Preparing for Civilian Contractor Jobs Overseas
Civilian contractor jobs overseas bring a lot of excitement and experience to one’s career. You are working in a foreign country, with the military, on projects that could make a difference in the world. For many, becoming an overseas civilian contractor is the next logical step as retired military. For others, it is the lure of adventure, high pay that overseas jobs provide and a desire to help our country that convince them to go. And still, for many others, it is the desire to help make a difference in the world through contracting for public works or foreign assistance.
There are many opportunities available for those who want to work overseas as a civilian employee or contractor. However, with those opportunities come unique risks that need to be adequately prepared for and understood before signing the dotted line on your employment contract. Still, even if you’ve already signed and are aware of the risks, you should make the necessary preparations in case anything should happen to you while working overseas.
Review Your Contract Carefully
Whether you’ve already signed on the dotted line or not, you need to review your employment contract carefully. The contract contains the terms of your employment, and it may include a section on liability for both the contract company and yourself. You need to know where your liability begins and where the liability of your contract employer ends. Knowing this information before you suffer an accident/injury could help in your case should your employer be liable for medical costs and compensation.
Along with your contract, you should also review any safety guidelines and job responsibilities. Both of these guides are intended to help keep you safe and make sure that you do not work outside your contract. Again, knowing this information will help prevent any injury. However, there is no amount of precaution you can take while working in a war zone that will protect you from war hazards like IED explosions, rocket attacks, etc. Aside from those specific war hazards, other more common accidents do happen, regardless of how careful you are and well you follow the guidelines. This might include a trip and fall accident, etc. Should you get injured while fulfilling your contract duties, you should be eligible for compensation benefits. If, however, you become injured because you were not following safety guidelines or you were performing work outside your contract scope, your workers’ compensation insurance carrier could dispute your claim for compensation on those grounds. Knowing this information protects you and your rights should the worse happen. However, under the Defense Base Act (DBA), you should be covered so long as you are in the “zone of special danger” even if you are not working when injured.
Understand the Risks of Civilian Contractor Jobs Overseas
Civilian contractor jobs overseas are not the same as civilian jobs in the United States. Even if you are a civilian working on military bases, your job presents risks that are unique and need to be understood fully. Risks to personal safety are especially high in hot spots such as a war zone or ground zero for a natural disaster. If you’re a security contractor, you’ll be at the same risk as a soldier stationed in such areas as Afghanistan or Iraq. Although performing different duties, both military and civilian contractors often have the same types of risks if they work in the same area.
Before you sign your contract or before you leave for your post, you need to review these risks and dangers carefully and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself. This is especially important if you have loved ones that you are leaving: review life insurance policies, wills, death benefits, and injury benefits. Make sure that both you and your spouse or children, and qualified dependents, know what to do should the worst happen to you.
You should also ask yourself if you’re prepared to manage those risks of danger, and also how to prepare. Does your contract employer have guidelines? Can you speak with other contractors and find out how they prepared? If something should happen to you, have you prepared your loved ones?
Know Your Rights and Benefits of the Defense Base Act
Because overseas civilian contractor jobs are unique, specific laws and acts have been passed that apply only to eligible contractors. One act in particular, the Defense Base Act (DBA), was passed to protect overseas contractors that work for companies under contract with the Department of Defense, the United States military, or under a public works or Foreign Assistance Act contract. The DBA protects the workers’ compensation rights of yourself should you become injured while working overseas.
The Defense Base Act contains a lot of information that might be confusing or you might not understand. Moreover, even if you do understand the details of this Act and your benefits, you might still run the risk of either losing your benefits or accepting a low settlement as insurance companies attempt to save money. This is why, should you become injured while working overseas, you’ll want to understand how to protect yourself and your benefits. You’ll want to know your rights and how to file a DBA claim before you even get injured.
1. Keep all your pay stubs, employment paperwork, contract, and any communication between you and your supervisor, manager, or employer.
2. File an injury report as soon as humanely possible; and keep a copy for yourself. Email is often best when you are overseas.
3. Know who you’re working with at all times as they could provide a key witness testimony if necessary.
4. Keep all medical documentation even if you think it’s unnecessary. It’s better to keep it and not need it than the reverse.
5. Contact a DBA attorney as soon as possible so that you have an expert on your side of the table.
Overseas Preparation and DBA Claims
The hopes are for anyone that they will never need to file a DBA claim. However, accidents can befall even the most experienced and cautious contractor or operator. In the event that you do get injured, or worse, you or your loved ones should know who to reach out to for support in the DBA claim process. You need to know who can help protect and fight for your rights and the compensation you deserve.
The attorneys at Moschetta Law focus on Defense Base Act cases. We know the ins and outs of the process and what needs to be done to win. If you need to file a claim, understand your benefits better, or need representation, contact our offices today.