Title 32

SECTION 757.18

757.18 Asserting the claim.

§ 757.18 Asserting the claim.

(a) Initial action by the JAG designee. When advised of a potential claim, the JAG designee will determine the Federal agency or department responsible for investigating and asserting the claim.

(1) When DoN has reimbursed a non-Federal provider for health care, or when TRICARE has made payment for a Navy health care beneficiary, the JAG designee will assert any resulting claim.

(2) When care is provided in a Federal treatment facility, the status of the injured person will determine the agency that will assert a resulting claim. Cost of treatment provided or paid for by an MTF is deposited in that MTF's account, regardless of which service is making the collection.

(i) Where DoN members, retirees, or their dependents receive medical treatment from another Federal agency or department, the DoN will assert any claim on behalf of the United States based on information provided by the treating agency or department.

(ii) Similarly, where a DoN MTF provides care to personnel of another Federal agency or department, that other agency or department will assert any claim on behalf of the United States.

(3) If the claim is one which the DoN should assert, the JAG designee will forward all available information to the appropriate department or agency.

(4) If the claim is one which the DoN should assert, the JAG designee will ensure an appropriate investigation into the circumstances underlying the claim is initiated and will provide notice to the injured party and all third parties who may be liable to the injured person and the United States under the MCRA or 10 U.S.C. 1095.

(b) Investigating the claim. While there is no prescribed form or content for investigating these claims, the claims file will contain sufficient information on which to base valuation, assertion, settlement, waiver, and/or compromise decisions.

(c) Notice of claim. (1) The JAG designee will assert claims by mailing a notice of claim to identified third-party tortfeasors and their insurers or insurers for third-party beneficiary coverage. Many insured tortfeasors fail to notify their insurance companies of incidents. This failure may be a breach of the cooperation clause in the policy and may be grounds for the insurer to refuse to defend the insured or be responsible for any liability. The United States, as a claimant, may preclude such an invocation by giving the requisite notification itself. The purpose of the insurance clause is satisfied if the insurer receives actual notice of the incident, regardless of the informant. This notice should be mailed as soon as it appears an identified third party may be liable for the injuries. The prompt assertion of the claim will ensure that the government is named on the settlement draft. If the United States is not so named, and the claim has been asserted, the insurer settles at its own risk.

(2) The JAG designee will also notify the injured person or his legal representative of the Government's interest in the value of the medical care provided by the United States. This notice will advise that:

(i) The United States may be entitled to recover the reasonable value of medical care furnished or paid by the Federal government;

(ii) The injured person is required to cooperate in the efforts of the United States to recover the reasonable value of medical care furnished or paid for by the Federal government;

(d) Administering the claim. (1) After investigating and asserting the claim, the JAG designee will maintain contact with all parties, their legal representatives, and insurers.

(2) An effort should be made to coordinate collection of the Federal government's interest with the injured person's action to collect on a claim for damages.

(i) Attorneys representing an injured person may be authorized to include the Federal government's claim as an item of special damages with the injured person's claim or suit.

(ii) An agreement that the Government's claim will be made a party of the injured person's action should be in writing and state the counsel fees will not be paid by the Government or computed on the basis of the Government's portion of recovery.

(3) If the injured person is not bringing an action for damages or is refusing to include the Federal Government's interest, the JAG designee will pursue independent collection. The United States is specifically allowed to intervene or join in any action at law brought by or through the injured person against the liable third person or brings an original suit in its own name or in the name of the injured person. The JAG designee will ensure all parties are aware that the United States must be a party to all subsequent collection negotiation.

(4) When the Government's interests are not being represented by the injured person or his/her attorney, and independent collection efforts have failed, the JAG designee will refer the claims to the DoJ for possible suit.

(e) Access to DoN records and information. (1) Copies of medical records in cases that have potential claims will be sent by the MTFs to the cognizant JAG designee. It is considered a routine use of the records for the JAG designee to release them to an insurance company, if requested, in order to substantiate the claim. However, only the MTF as “keepers of the records” has the authority to make official releases of medical records to anyone else. Records will be protected in accordance with the provisions of the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. 552a, and confidentiality of quality assurance medical records, 10 U.S.C. 1102. Non-routine release requires the authorization from the injured individual or legal representative or an order from a court of competent jurisdiction. A clerk or attorney signed subpoena is not “an order from a court of competent jurisdiction.” Subpoenas are processed in accordance with 32 CFR part 725.

(2) Requests for testimony of any Navy employees will be processed in accordance with DoD Directive 5405.2, 32 CFR part 725, and SECNAVINST 5820.8A. If the injured person, or his or her attorney has signed an agreement to protect the Government's interest and is requesting the testimony of a locally available physician who treated the injured person, however, this request falls within an exception to the regulations. See 32 CFR 725.5(g)(3). In this situation, the injured person or the attorney need only ask the JAG designee for assistance in scheduling the testimony of the treating physician and the JAG designee will coordinate with the physician's command to determine availability. Such testimony is limited to factual issues. The definition of factual issues is slightly different under the regulations than it is in civil litigation. Opinions that are formed prior to, or contemporaneously with, the treatment at issue and are routinely required in the course of the proper performance of professional duties constitute essentially factual matters. For example, the physician will have opined at the time of treatment if further treatment will be necessary. The physician may testify to that as factual, not opinion, testimony. Opinions that are formed after treatment and are not required for continuing treatment, especially those that respond to hypothetical questions, are not factual and are considered to be expert testimony. This expert testimony, regardless of who requests it, will be processed in accordance with 32 CFR part 725, and must be forwarded to OJAG Code 14, General Litigation Division. Requests for expert testimony are rarely granted.

[72 FR 53429, Sept. 19, 2007]