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CHAPTER  12 CLAIMS A significant portion of your duties as an LN will entail  the  investigation  and  processing  of  claims. Claims  involving  the  United  States  Government  and  its military activities are governed by a complex system of statutes, regulations, and procedures. This chapter is not a  substitute  for  the  official  departmental  claims regulations published in the  JAG Manual  and  JAGINST 5890.1, Administrative  Processing  and  Consideration of Claims on Behalf of and Against the United States. It is, however, a useful starting point for research into claims. This chapter is organized to reflect the various claims statutes and their respective functions in the claims   system. Claims  involving  the  federal government are of two types: 1. Claims in which the federal government is a claimant  seeking  compensation. 2.  Claims  against  the  government  for  which  a claimant seeks compensation. These can be further divided  into  two  functional  categories: a. General claims statutes, such as the Federal Tort  Claims  Act  (FTCA)  and  Military  Claims  Act (MCA), that provide for payment of claims arising out of a broad range of incidents and situations. b.  Specialized  claims  statutes,  such  as  the Military  Personnel  and  Civilian  Employees’  Claims  Act and the Foreign Claims Act (FCA), that provide for payment  of  claims  arising  out  of  specific  types  of incidents or to only specific classes of claimants. Claims  are  adjudicated  by  a  complex  system  of interesting  statutes,  regulations,  and  procedures. Claims that are not covered by one of the general claims statutes  are  frequently  payable  under  one  of  the specialized statutes. Thus, specialized statutes can fill gaps in areas where the general statutes do not provide coverage.  Conversely,  some  claims  are  not  cognizable under one of the general statutes because one of the specialized statutes may apply to the claim. Likewise, classes of persons barred by statute or regulation from collecting  under  a  general  claims  statute  often  can  be compensated under one of the specialized statutes. Examples  in  this  chapter  will  demonstrate  the interaction of the various claims statutes, regulations, and  procedures.  The  key  to  understanding  claims  law is  to  realize  that  it  involves  a  logical  system  of interacting provisions and not just a perplexing labyrinth of  seemingly  unrelated  rules. FEDERAL TORT CLAIMS ACT The Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1346, 2671-2680  (1982)  (FTCA),  was  a  product  of  many  years of  congressional  deliberations  and  considerations. Before 1946, if a person was wrongfully injured by a federal  employee  who  had  acted  within  the  scope  of  his or  her  federal  employment,  the  doctrine  of  “sovereign immunity” barred that injured party from suing the government for compensation. This doctrine often had the effect of denying fair compensation to persons with meritorious claims. At that time, the only available form of  redress  was  the  “private  bill”—a  system  whereby  the injured party could be compensated for his or her injury by  a  special  act  of  Congress.  This  system  was cumbersome and resulted in thousands of private bills annually. This system was also unfair to those who lacked sufficient influence to have a representative introduce a private bill on their behalf. The FTCA was enacted with the intent of providing a more equitable, comprehensive system. The FTCA provides  for  compensation  for  personal  injury,  death, and property damage caused by the negligent conduct of federal employees acting within the scope of federal employment. It  also  covers  certain  intentional, wrongful acts. There are, however, three general types of  exceptions  from  government  liability  under  the FTCA. First, the government is protected from liability arising out of certain types of governmental actions. Second, the FTCA will not provide compensation when one of the specialized claims statutes (discussed later in this chapter) covers the claim. Third, certain classes of claimants, such as active duty military personnel, are prevented  from  recovering  under  the  FTCA,  although they may be compensated under other statutes. SCOPE OF LIABILITY The law defines negligence as the failure to exercise the degree of care, skill, or diligence that a reasonable person  would  exercise  under  the  same  circumstances. 12-1

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