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									        Incident Claims
Incident Business Management Meeting
             April 3-4, 2007
               Objective
-What is Claims Management
-Roles & Responsibilities
-Pursuing Fire Trespass Claims (Claims For)
-Claims Authorities
-Inviting a Claim (Claims Against)
-Contacts
-Handling of claims occurring on incidents
          Claims Management
• The process for managing Claims Against the
  Government begins once the Forest Service is aware of
  an incident that may give rise to a claim, and ends when
  the claim is adjudicated .

• The process for Claims For the Government begins
  when violations/damages have been identified and
  investigative proceedings begin, and ends when the debt
  has been liquidated
                References
6509.11h Service-Wide Claims Management
             Handbook (Draft)

• Chapter 10 – Incident Investigations
• Chapter 20 – Administrative Claims for Govt
• Chapter 30 – Administrative Claims Against the
               Govt
• Chapter 40 – Employee Claims
     Claims Responsibilities
                      Employees
  It is the responsibility of each employee who
  witnesses or learns of an incident that may lead to
  a claim of or against the Government to:

- Document what occurred and why/how, even if it
  appears the FS has no responsibility for the
  incident; document witnesses

- Never admit fault

- Notify supervisor and/or line officer
         Claims Responsibilities
                    Line Officers
It is responsibility of Line Officers to ensure that:

1)   Incidents that could result in claims of or against
     the Government are reported to Law Enforcement
     and Investigations (LE&I) personnel within 1
     business day so they can be appropriately
     investigated, and

2)   ASC is notified within 5 days of notification of
     incident, and

3)   Claims package is transmitted to ASC within 1 day
     after receipt of investigation report
        Claims Responsibilities
                 Law Enforcement
LEI Staff has overall program & oversight responsibility for
  investigations that could result in claims and will:

  1) conduct an investigation or provide direct investigative
  oversight of a properly trained investigator, and

  2) ensure a timely report of their findings is prepared &
  submitted to the Line Officer where incident occurred, and
  3) ensure needed follow-up action is completed.
         Claims Responsibilities
                  Unit Claims Liason
–   Serve as Claims contact/coordinator

–   Provide names and contact information of
    FS employees to ASC Claims Specialists
    when needed

–   Help identify appropriate FS employees for
    claim cases and cases in litigation

–   Receive and distribute claims-related
    documents sent to the unit [e.g., litigation
    documents; claim information; FOIA
    requests/responses; Congressional
    requests/responses)
         Claims Responsibilities
            Unit Claims Liason (cont’d)

–   Upon request, provide information to the public and
    Forest Service employees (e.g., who to contact regarding
    claims questions and/or where to mail claims; where to
    send notifications of accidents; where to send copies of
    motor vehicle accident reports involving third parties)

–   Provide job code to pay claims against the Government,
    as requested

–   Provide job codes for billings for claims for the
    Government, as requested

–   Receive written claim, date-stamp claim, send claim to
    the ASC
      Claims of the Government


• Take aggressive action to collect all
  claims of the U.S. arising out of
  Forest Service activities


• Damage to Personal Property (Vehicles) – 3 Yrs
       • Fire Suppression Costs – 3 Yrs
  • Resource Damage from fires on NFS – 6 Yrs
         FIRE TRESPASS CLAIMS FOR THE
                 GOVERNMENT


A fire trespass claim for the Government results when a person or
legal entity, acting negligently or otherwise wrongfully, causes a
wildfire and burns Forest Service resources or property.

A fire trespass may be committed without criminal intent.
                 Fire Investigations

The investigation report on fires must include the items described in
sections 12.26a through 12.26n, 6509.11h, Chapter 10




Identify the cause of the fire and the factual or circumstantial evidence
supporting the determination of the fire cause. Describe the
qualifications of the investigator, or other individual, who determined the
fire cause.
Fire Investigations (continued)

12.26b - Personnel


Include the following information concerning personnel:

       1. Copy of the line officer briefing.

        2. Escaped Fire Situation Analysis (EFSA) (FSM 5132.1).

        3. Information on weather conditions and fire danger
        prevailing the 5 days immediately prior to the start of the fire
        and for the duration of the fire. Include weather reports and
        lightning detection reports.

        4. Copies of letters delegating authority to the fire's Incident
        Commander(s).

        5. Home unit contact information for all Incident
        Command personnel
12.26f - Fire Records
Retain all fire records, including shift plans, time reports, equipment
records, dispatch logs, radio logs, and State and local agreements at
the incident unit. Make the records available to Claims Specialists to
support the Government's position in defending against claims or to
substantiate the amount claimed in claims of the Government. If a
claim evolves into a lawsuit, the records are subject to discovery by
the other party and submission to the court.
 12.26n - Intentionally Set Wildfires



1. Information on insurance coverage of the person(s) who set the fire.

2. Copy of State codes relative to parental liability and monetary
limits of parental liability if the fire was started by juveniles.
INTERAGENCY INCIDENT BUSINESS MANAGEMENT HANDBOOK
CHAPTER 60 – ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION AND REPORTING


An independent investigation team must prepare a supplemental
narrative report for the following:


     1. Any fatality(s).

     2. Hospitalization of three or more individuals.

     3. Loss of body function.

     4. Incapacitation expected to last over 30 days.

     5. Damage to government property exceeding $5,000,
     excluding resource damage.

     6. Actual or potential serious injury to private person and
     substantial damage ordestruction of private property.
 Chapter 70




71 – CLAIMS INVESTIGATIONS. All accidents or incidents, which may result
in a claim for or against the government, must be promptly investigated and
clearly reported by a trained investigator or other qualified personnel.
Ideally, the investigation is completed by law enforcement personnel in
coordination with the Safety Officer. Serious accidents (e.g., fatality or
hospitalization of three or more personnel), substantial property damage, or
serious personal injury will normally be investigated by an independent
investigation team. Investigations should be made while witnesses are
available, before damages have been repaired, and prior to presentation of
claims. The incident agency should not commission special Claims Damage
Assessment Teams, except in unusual circumstances. Chapter 60, Sections
62-64, provides investigation guidelines and reporting requirements.
          Claims of the Govt
      Billable vs. Non-Billable Costs
Reference Chapter 20, FSH 6509.11h

  21.11c - Fire Suppression Costs. When a bill will be issued for
  fire suppression, calculate all direct costs of fire suppression.
  Generally, these costs represent the gross charges to the fire.
  The accounting system was designed to capture costs incurred
  on specific fires through the use of a prestructured management
  code assigned to the fire. Use these costs to the fullest extent
  possible to support billings issued as a result of the fire. Review
  charges to determine if they accurately reflect the Forest Service
  cost of suppression.
1. Billable Costs. The following list of suppression costs is
not intended to be all inclusive, but should reflect the
majority of costs the Forest Service does incur.

a. Salaries and wages of Forest Service employees,
including Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center staff.
Salary costs include base time, overtime, hazard pay, and
employer's contributions to retirement, social security, life
insurance, and health benefits.

 b. Travel and transportation costs.

 c. Wages of temporary laborers and related costs

 d. Cost of tools and supplies.
      Billable costs (continued)


e. Surface and air equipment operating costs
and rentals, including the fixed ownership rate
for working capital fund equipment


f. Other items, such as telephone, telegraph, and land rental costs.



g. Costs of trespass investigation, preparation of
reports, and damage assessments, unless not
allowed by State statute.
2. Non-billable Costs. Do not include the cost for the
following items:


a. Tools and supplies purchased, but not used, provided
they are available to be used for other fire purposes (such
as those able to be stored in the fire cache).


 b. Personnel (labor and overhead) ordered
 for duty, but not actually used on the fire (for
 example, held in reserve).

 c. Equipment, tools, and supplies burned, lost, or otherwise destroyed
 during suppression through inadequate supervision or other
 administrative error.

 d. Crews used for training purposes.
     Non-billable costs (continued)



e. Management supervision, such as that performed by
the District Ranger or Forest Supervisor, unless such
officer actually occupies a position in the fire
suppression organization.


f. Labor and equipment contributed at no cost to the Forest Service
by cooperating agencies, such as the Navy and Army, provided the
Forest Service is not responsible for billing the other agencies costs
under an interagency agreement.

g. Costs of chemicals or equipment used
on an experimental basis only in connection
with equipment development projects.
The project manager's statement and transaction registers should be
used to accumulate trespass costs in lieu of individual payroll
registers Form AD-355, travel vouchers, and equipment use
tearsheets. Maintain copies of all supporting documentation in the
case file.
       Claims of the Govt
    Billable vs. Non-Billable Costs
Reference Chapter 20, FSH 6509.11h

 In addition to the cost of suppression,
 damages to resources, real, or personal
 property may be billed. See sections 21.11a,
 21.11b, and 21.12c for additional information
 in arriving at amounts to bill for these
 damages.
Damages to Forest Service Sawtimber and Other Marketable Products.

Base the methods used to determine the volume and value of damage to
trees on Regional methods and procedures in volume measurement as
well as those described in the Regional timber appraisal handbook (FSM
2420). Rely on timber appraisal personnel to gather data.
Damages to Improvements on Forest Service Land.

In general, the claim amount would include the cost to repair
the improvement. When the improvement is not repairable,
the claim would include the cost to replace the improvement
less depreciation.
                     Claims of the Govt
                       Initiating Collections

Claims officers must initiate collection actions on all trespass claims
due the Forest Service, regardless of the amount (FSM 6570.4).

  Tort and trespass claims become due the Forest Service when a
  Claims Officer determines from all the evidence that there is a
  substantial likelihood that an identified person or legal entity,
  acting negligently or otherwise unlawfully, caused damages to
  Forest Service resources or property. This determination
  administratively establishes the identified person or legal entity
  as a debtor of the Forest Service, liable to the Government for the
  amount of the damage sustained.
                     Claims of the Govt
                       Authorities for Billing

State Tort Law/Fire Suppression Costs. Reasonable fire suppression costs
are recoverable when incurred by the Forest Service to protect Forest
Service land and property from human-caused wildfires started unlawfully.

This right under federal law was upheld in the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad
vs. U.S. case, based on the well-established doctrine in tort law that a
property owner may recover reasonable expenses incurred to protect the
owner's property from damages caused by the wrongful conduct of
another.

Generally, State statutes also specify that fire suppression costs are
recoverable from persons or legal entities that start wildfires negligently or
in violation of State fire safety laws.
                    Claims of the Govt
                       Authorities for Billing


State fire safety laws are usually varied and numerous. A working
knowledge of these laws facilitates billing where the fire-starter's
conduct was not clearly negligent. Under some State's statutes,
such as Nevada's, a person who starts a wildfire is (absolutely)
liable for its suppression costs whether or not the person started
the fire negligently or in violation of law.
             Fire Trespass Claim Process


- Wildfire occurs

- Line Officer notifies LE&I within 1 business
  day; investigation begins

- Line Officer notifies ASC within 5 business
  days via 6500-210 (preferred method) &
  sends copy to Unit Claims Liason

- IC/FMO prepares fire report listing resources
  used to control the wildfire – must be
  accurate & timely, usually within 2 weeks of
  containment
          Fire Trespass Claims Process
                     (cont’d)

- Once investigation complete and negligence/intent is
  determined, Unit Line Officer, the IC (or FMO), and LE jointly
  review the fire report, investigative report and all
  associated costs for accuracy.

- Line Officer mails claims package to ASC-Claims
  w/transmittal letter; copy sent to Unit Claims Liason &
  others per local policy

- Claim is processed by ASC-Claims Unit

- ASC sends Claims Liason notifications on progress &
  closure of claim

- Claims Liason forwards notices to Line and PC
       Claims Process
LINE OFFICER LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL



               -Any additional information
               pertinent to the claim
               - Explanation of costs that should
               be deducted or added to claim
               amount not reflected on
               transaction register.
CLAIMS AGAINST THE GOVT
 INVITING A CLAIM VS. DOING AN
      ADMINISTRATIVE JOB


  GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES MAY NOT
    GIVE AID OR ASSISTANCE TO A
    CLAIMANT IN PROSECUTING A
  CLAIM AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT
               Claims Against the Govt
            DOING AN ADMINISTRATIVE JOB




   Refer Potential Claimants to ASC         Accept SF-95
    (Preferred)                              (ALWAYS DATE STAMP!)



                                            Send SF-95 to ASC-Claims asap
   Give Prospective Claimants Form SF
    95 (Form preferred but not
    mandatory)
         Claims Against the Govt
                  PROHIBITIONS



 ENCOURAGE SUBMISSION         PAY FOR OR ATTEMPT TO
  OF A CLAIM UNDER FTCA         REPAIR DAMAGE OUTSIDE OF
                                CLAIMS PROCESS
 GIVE AID OR ASSISTANCE IN
  PROSECUTING A CLAIM          GIVE OPINION ON MERITS OF
  AGAINST THE GOV’T             CLAIM

 ASSUME LIABILITY FOR
  DAMAGES ON BEHALF OF
  THE GOVERNMENT
        Claims Against the Govt
              INVITING A CLAIM



 PROHIBITED BY LAW -
  18 USC 205

 FINE: $10,000 OR
  IMPRISONMENT 2
  YEARS OR BOTH
                  CLAIMS CONTACTS
ASC Claims website:
  http://fsweb.r3.fs.fed.us/asc/bfm/programs/financial-operations/claims/

ASC Claims Email: ascclaims@fs.fed.us
ASC Toll Free Main Phone Number: 1-877-372-7248
ASC Toll Free Fax: 1-866-341-1541

ASC Claims Mailing Address:
  USDA Forest Service
  Albuquerque Service Center
  ATTN: Claims
  101B Sun Ave NE

Claims Specialist for R8/R9:
    Lynn Mighton
   626 E. Wisconsin Avenue
   Milwaukee, WI 53202
   Office: (414) 297-3733

								
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