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Line Of Duty Investigations

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A Line of Duty Investigation is an investigation to determine if a service member (SM) is injured and/or killed while on active duty, reserve, or national guard training. The investigation is conducted to determine if the SM is at fault or not at fault for the injuries that occured.


  1. Formal Line of Duty Investigation
  2. Informal Line of Duty Investigation
Formal Line of Duty
A formal line of duty is conducted when you suspect that the soldier is at fault or when the accident involves drugs and alcohol. In every formal investigation, the purpose is to find out whether there is evidence of intentional misconduct or willful negligence which is substantial and of a greater weight than supports any different conclusion so as to rebut the presumption of "in line of duty". To arrive at such decisions, several basic rules can be applied to various situations. The specific rules or misconduct are:

AR 600-8-1, 18 September 1986
Appendix F: Rules Governing Line of Duty and Misconduct Determinations

Rule 1:

Injury or disease directly caused by the misconduct or willful negligence is not in the line of duty. It is due to misconduct. This is a general rule and must be considered in every case in which misconduct or willful negligence appears to be involved. Generally, two issues must be resolved when a member is injured (or contracts a disease), whether the injury or disease was incurred in the line of duty and whether it was due to misconduct. Normally, the two issues are resolved at the same time under the same facts and same rules.

Rule 2:

Mere violation of military regulation, orders, or instructions, or of civil or criminal laws, if there is no further sign of misconduct, is no more than simple negligence. Simple negligence is not misconduct. Therefore, a violation under this rule alone is not enough to determine that the injury or disease resulted from misconduct. However, the violation is one factor to be examined and weighed with the other circumstances.

Rule 3:

Injury or disease that results in incapaciatation because of the abuse of alcohol and other drugs is not in line of duty. It is due to misconduct. This rule is on the effect of the drug on the member's conduct, as well as the physical effect on his body. Any erratic or reckless conduct caused by the effect of the drug, which directly causes his injury or disease is misconduct. The fact that the member may have a pre-existing physical condition which caused him to be susceptible to the effects of the drug does not excuse such misconduct.

Rule 4:

Injury or disease that results in incapacitation because of the abuse of intoxicating liquor is not in line of duty. It is due to misconduct. The principles in Rule 3 apply here. While the mere drinking of alcoholic beverages is not mesconduct, one who voluntarily becomes intoxicated is held to as high as a standard of conduct as one who is sober. Intoxication does not excuse his conduct. While normally there are behavior patterns common to persons who are intoxicated, some, if not all, of these characteristics may be caused by other conditions. For example, an apparent drunken stupor might have been seen caused by a blow on the head. Consequently, when the fact of intoxication is not clearly fixed, care should be taken to determine the actual cause of any irrational behavior which is like or the same as that of intoxication.

Rule 5:

Injury incurred while knowingly resisting a lawful arrest, or while attempting to excape from a guard or other lawful custody, is incurred not in line of duty. It is due to misconduct. One who resists arrest, or who attempts to escape from custody, can reasonably except that necessary force, even that which may be excessive under the circumstances, will be used to restrain him and, is acting with willful negligence.

Rule 6:

Injury incurred while tampering with, attempting to ignite, or otherwise handling an explosive, firearm, or highly flamable liquid in disregard of its dangerous qualities is incurred not in line of duty. It is due to misconduct. Unexploded ammunition, highly flammable liquids, and firearms are inherently dangerous. Their handling and use require a high degree of care. A member who knows the nature of such an object or substance and who voluntarily or willfully handles, or tampers with these materials without authority or in disregard of their dangerous qualities, is willfully negligent. This rule does not apply when a member is required by assigned duties or authorized by appropriate authority to handle the explosive, firearm, or liquid, and reasonable precautions have been taken. The fact that the member has been trained or worked with the use of employment of such objects or substances will have an important bearing on whether reasonable precautions were observed.

Rule 7:

Injury caused by wrongful aggression, or voluntarily taking part in a fight or like encounter, in which one is equally at fault in starting or continuing, is not in line of duty. It is due to misconduct. An injury received by a member in an affray in which he is the aggressor is caused by his own misconduct. This rule does not apply when a person is the victim of an unprovoked assault and he sustains injuries in an attempt to defend himself. Provocative actions or language used by the member, in which a reasonable person would expect retaliation, is a willful disregard for personal safety, and injuries directly resulting therefrom are due to misconduct. When an adversary uses excessive force or means that could not have been reasonably foreseen in the incident, the resulting injury is self-defense, for a member to persist in a fight or other encounter after his adversary produces a dangerous weapon is to act in willful disregard for safety and is willful negligence.

Rule 8:

Injury caused by driving a vehicle when in an unfit condition, and the member knew or should have known about it, is not in line of duty. It is due to misconduct. A member involved in an automobile accident caused by his having fallen asleep while driving is not guilty of willful neglegince solely because he fell asleep. The test is whether a person, under the same circumstances, would undertake the trip without falling asleep while driving. Unfitness to drive may have been caused by voluntary intoxixation or use of drugs.

Rule 9:

Injury because of erratic or reckless conduct without regard for personal safety or the safey of others, is not in the line of duty. It is due to misconduct. This rule has its chief application in the operation of a vehicle, but may be applied with any deliberate conduct which risks the safety of self or others. "Thrill" or "dare-devil" type activities also are example in which this rule may be applied.

Rule 10:

A wound or other injury deliberately self-inflicted by a member who is mentally sound is not in line of duty. It is due to misconduct. Although a line of duty or misconduct determination in death cases is not required. The suicide or attempted suicide is so related to the self-infliction of wounds or other injuries that it should be discussed. Suicide is the deliberate and intentional destruction of the one's own life by a person of years or discretion and a sound mind. The law presumes that a sane man will not commit suicide (or make a bona fide attempt to commit suicide). This presumption prevails until overcome by substantial evidence and a greater weight of the evidence than supports any different conclusion. Evidence which merely establishes the possibility of suicide, or merely raises a suspicion that death is due to suicide, is not enough to overcome the general line of duty presumption. However, in some cases, a determination that death was caused by a deliberately self inflicted wound or injury may be based on circumstances surrounding the finding of a body. These circumstances should be clear and unmistakable and there should be no circumstances to the contrary.

Rule 11:

Misconduct or willful negligence or another person is charged to a member if the latter has control over and is thus responsible for the former's conduct, or if the misconduct or neglect shows enough planned action to establish a joint enterprise. The mere presence of the member is not a basis for charging him with the misconduct or willful negligence of another, even though by speaking up he may have had some influence over the circumstances. However, even though a member is not the principal actor in acts which constitute misconduct, if he has substantially participated with others in such venture, his conduct will be misconduct.

Rule 12:

The line of duty and misconduct status of a member injured or incurring disease while taking part in outside activities, such as business ventures, hobbies, contests, professional or amateur athletic activities, is determinable as any other case under the applicable rules and facts presented in the case. To determine whether an injury is due to willful negligence, the nature of the outside activity should be considered with the training and the experience of the member.

Informal Line of Duty
Informal Line of Duty is performed when a soldier is injured on active duty, reserve, or national guard training. This type of investigation is only performed when no sign of foul play is suspected, ie. drugs, alcohol, attempted suicide, or incidents surrounding the case that might explain negligence.

How to Inform Suspect/Accused Persons of Their Rights

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