The Military Claims Act

When a person has died, has sustained injuries, or has sustained property damage as a result of the activities of military personnel or civilians who are employed by the military, the person or his or her representative may be entitled to recover damages from the federal government under the Military Claims Act (MCA). The MCA covers claims for damages that are caused by military personnel or civilians who are acting within the scope of their employment or that are caused by military activities.

The MCA covers claims for damages that are not covered by the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). Unlike the FTCA, the MCA pays for damages that occur worldwide. Also, unlike the FTCA, the MCA only pays damages for circumstances that are specifically included in a military department’s regulations.

The MCA is limited to claims that arise from military personnel or civilians who are acting within the scope of their employment or that are incident to military activities that are noncombatant. Examples of claims regarding noncombatant military activities include claims that result from maneuvers, from bombing exercises, or from aircraft operations. For such type of claims, a person does not need to show that the activities were conducted in a belligerent manner. The person also does not need to show that his or her losses were the result of the conduct of a specific employee.

Certain types of activities are specifically excluded from coverage under the MCA. Those activities include combat activities, enemy actions, certain postal activities, or property damage claims that are based on contract violations. If a claim can be pursued under another federal claims statute, the claim will be exempt under the MCA. Such claims include claims under the FTCA, the Military Personnel and Civilian Employees’ Claims Act, the Foreign Claims Act, and certain admiralty claims.

Certain types of claimants are specifically excluded from coverage under the MCA. Military personnel and civilian employees are not entitled to file an action under the MCA for personal injury or death if the personal injury or death occurred as a result of that person’s military service or employment. Military personnel and civilian employees may be entitled to file claims under the MCA for property damage as long as their claims are not covered by another statute, such as the Military Personnel and Civilian Employees’ Claims Act.

Military personnel and civilian employees are prohibited from filing a claim under the MCA if their claim arose as a result of that person’s own negligence or wrongful acts. If the claim arose in a contributory negligence state, the claim is barred under the MCA. If the claim arose in a comparative negligence state, the claim may not be totally barred. However, the person’s damages will be reduced in accordance with his or her proportionate share of negligence.

Damages for personal injury or death under the MCA include damages for pain and suffering, permanent disability, medical expenses, lost wages, and a loss of earning capacity. Property damages are based on the cost of repairing the property. If the property cannot be repaired, damages are based on the replacement cost of the property less the salvage value of the property.

Under the MCA, a claimant is not entitled to recover attorney’s fees, interest, the cost of preparing his or her claim, or damages for the claimant’s inconvenience.

A claim under the MCA must be filed within two years after a cause of action accrues. However, the two-year statute of limitations may be tolled or suspended during periods of armed conflict.