38 U.S. Code § 7317 - Hazardous research projects: indemnification of contractors
(1) With the approval of the Secretary, any contract or research authorized by section 7303 of this title, the performance of which involves a risk of an unusually hazardous nature, may provide that the United States will indemnify the contractor as provided in paragraph (2), but only to the extent that the liability, loss, or damage concerned arises out of the direct performance of the contract and to the extent not covered by the financial protection required under subsection (e).
(2) Indemnity under paragraph (1) is indemnity against either or both of the following:
(A) Liability (including reasonable expenses of litigation or settlement) to third persons, except liability under State or Federal workers’ injury compensation laws to employees of the contractor employed at the site of and in connection with the contract for which indemnification is granted, for death, bodily injury, or loss of or damage to property, from a risk that the contract defines as unusually hazardous.
(b) A contract that provides for indemnification in accordance with subsection (a) must also provide for—
(1) notice to the United States of any claim or suit against the contractor for death, bodily injury, or loss of or damage to property; and
(c) A payment may not be made under subsection (a) unless the Secretary certifies that the amount is just and reasonable.
(d) Upon approval by the Secretary, payments under subsection (a) may be made from—
(e) Each contractor which is a party to an indemnification agreement under subsection (a) shall have and maintain financial protection of such type and in such amounts as the Secretary shall require to cover liability to third persons and loss of or damage to the contractor’s property. The amount of financial protection required shall be the maximum amount of insurance available from private sources, except that the Secretary may establish a lesser amount, taking into consideration the cost and terms of private insurance. Such financial protection may include private insurance, private contractual indemnities, self-insurance, other proof of financial responsibility, or a combination of such measures.
(f) In administering the provisions of this section, the Secretary may use the facilities and services of private insurance organizations and may contract to pay a reasonable compensation therefor. Any contract made under the provisions of this section may be made without regard to the provisions of section 6101 (b) to (d) of title 41, upon a showing by the Secretary that advertising is not reasonably practicable, and advance payments may be made under any such contract.
(g) The authority to indemnify contractors under this section does not create any rights in third persons which would not otherwise exist by law.