Claims for Motor Vehicle Damages

B-202044: Aug 6, 1981

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A GAO decision was requested as to the payment of claims for automobile damages incurred by three government employees during the New York City transit strike. The Military Personnel and Civilian Employees' Claims Act authorizes agencies to pay claims up to $15,000 for damages to, or loss of, personal property incident to an employee's service. A claim is allowable if the damage was not caused in whole or in part by the negligent or wrongful act of the claimant. Commuting to and from work is not an activity covered under the meaning of employee's service in the Act, except in special circumstances not applicable here. Since the claims of two of the employees involved property damage to their cars incurred while commuting, their claims were not compensable under the Act. The third claimant was using his vehicle for official business and was within the scope of his employment when the damage occurred. Therefore, his loss could properly be considered a loss incident to service under the coverage of the Act. The agency, not GAO, has the authority to consider the claim. The agency also questioned the applicability of the Act if the individual involved was reimbursed a mileage rate for the use of his automobile, as was the case with the third claimant. Under the Act, a settlement of the claim can be made in those circumstances.

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