This memorandum is intended to familiarize you generally with the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) and the protections it provides Members, Officers and employees of the House. This memorandum is not intended, however, to answer all questions or issues that may arise. Therefore, we encourage you to call the House Office of General Counsel (“OGC”) immediately if you or a member of your staff has additional questions on this topic. (Only House Members, Officers, or staff should call OGC. OGC cannot provide assistance to other federal government employees or members of the public.)
Under the FTCA, the federal government acts as a self-insurer, and recognizes liability for the negligent or wrongful acts or omissions of its employees acting within the scope of their official duties. The United States is liable to the same extent an individual would be in like circumstances. The statute substitutes the United States as the defendant in such a suit and the United States—not the individual employee—bears any resulting liability.
A. Making a Claim Under the FTCA
Individuals who are injured or whose property is damaged by the wrongful or negligent act of a federal employee acting in the scope of his or her official duties may file a claim with the government for reimbursement for that injury or damage. In order to state a valid claim, the claimant must demonstrate that (1) he was injured or his property was damaged by a federal government employee; (2) the employee was acting within the scope of his official duties; (3) the employee was acting negligently or wrongfully; and (4) the negligent or wrongful act proximately caused the injury or damage of which he complains. The claimant must also provide documentation establishing that his claim satisfies all the elements of the FTCA.
A person wishing to make a claim for reimbursement under the FTCA for damage or injury caused by a House employee must first file an administrative claim with the House. The OGC will provide a potential claimant with a claim form and inform him as to the required documentation. Please have your staff notify the OGC immediately if an event occurs which you believe may give rise to an FTCA claim.
B. The FTCA in Lieu of a Certificate of Insurance
You may be asked to provide a certificate of insurance for the purpose of entering into a district office lease or for securing space in which to conduct a town hall meeting or other official event. The House does not carry a private insurance policy and generally does not permit Members to use the MRA to pay for a private insurance policy for these types of meetings or events. The OGC can provide a letter explaining the protections of the FTCA, and asking that the letter be accepted in lieu of a certificate of insurance.