A Step-By-Step Guide To The DBA Claim Process
The U.S. government passed the Defense Base Act to protect you and your income while working overseas for the U.S. military or State Department. As a contractor working overseas, you’re often put into dangerous situations or work in hazardous conditions that put you at high risk for injury. The Defense Base Act (DBA) protects your working income. It also provides you with compensation for medical treatment under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. However, to receive compensation, you must file a timely DBA claim, which requires a lot of paperwork, time, and documents.
Even though you’re protected under the DBA, there’s no guarantee that you’ll receive just compensation. Oftentimes, you have to fight for what you deserve as insurance companies and employers try to limit or deny you compensation or a fair settlement. Following the claim process step-by-step, along with enlisting the help of an experienced DBA lawyer, will help you receive your full DBA benefits.
Step 1: Get Medical Attention
This step seems obvious, yet many people do not get medical attention right away for injuries unless it’s a medical emergency. Many times, contractors are worried about the financial impact of seeking medical attention if it’s not an emergency. Or, they think it’s not serious enough to see a doctor. However, under the DBA, you’ll be compensated for any medical treatment for your injury provided a doctor says the treatment is needed for a work injury. Furthermore, the soonest you can get medical treatment after the incident, the better chance you have of receiving compensation and medical benefits. The longer you wait to get medical attention, the more difficult it can be to get your benefits.
You should also get treatment with the doctor of your choice. The DBA says that you do not have to be treated by a doctor recommended by the DBA insurance company or your employer. Under the DBA, you’re entitled to get treatment from a doctor of your choosing. You also do not need to have any insurance case manager with you while you’re receiving treatment. In fact, they should never be present with you in an examining room.
During every visit, you need to keep good documentation of any injuries and what the physician says, does, and orders. This is why it’s so important to seek medical attention right away. Getting medical documentation as close to the time of the accident as possible records your condition in case there are questions later on about the legitimacy of your claims.
Step 2: Report Your Injury Immediately
You should report every injury, even if they seem minor at first. That way your supervisor and employer have it documented in case the injury turns out to be worse than originally thought. When reporting your accident, include any eyewitness accounts if possible. Make sure you and your supervisor correctly complete an incident report, especially the LS-201 form (Notice of Employee’s Injury or Death). This form officially lets the employer know that an incident has occurred resulting in your injury.
It also sets in motion the following steps for your claim. Under the DBA, when an employer receives the LS-201 or any written report of injury, they must notify the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Workers Compensation Programs, Longshore Division by submitting form LS-202 (Employer’s First Report of Injury or Occupational Illness).
If you give written notice of your injury and your employer or its insurance carrier fail to file the correct form, then the 1-year time limit does not begin to run. You would then be responsible for filing form LS-203 (Employee’s Claim for Compensation) or and LS-262 (Claim for Death Benefits), if necessary. Send those documents to the U.S. Department of Labor, OWCP-Longshore at 201 Varick Street, Room 740, P.O. Box 249, New York, NY 10014-0249.
As for the incident report, you need to keep a copy for yourself. Keeping any and all documents associated with your injury is essential to successfully getting compensation. Email and written communication is sometimes the best path to take if you get injured in a remote area or away from your employer’s facility.
**Sometimes Step 1 and Step 2 can be reversed depending on the seriousness of the injury. However, you should always be putting your safety and health above paperwork and see to it later that you fill out and file any paperwork.
Step 3: Collect All Documentation
Throughout the entire process, you’ll want to keep any documentation pertaining to your injury and claim.
- Injury and Incident Reports. These reports give the timeline of events when it comes to your injury. Having a detailed and accurate timeline reported as close in time to when the incident occurred will support your claim.
- Medical Records. Your medical records will indicate the type of injury and what kind of treatment. They will help determine your compensation.
- Original Claim. You should keep a copy of the DBA claim for your own records just in case you or your attorney need to reference it in the future.
- All Communication. You should keep any communication – written, email, and phone – in case there’s a dispute over your claim. The more documents you can provide, the stronger your case is for winning.
- Ongoing Medical Records. If your injury requires ongoing treatment, always keep every record even if it seems unnecessary. Such records include the summary of visit, prescription, at-home treatments, signed paperwork, and questionnaires.
- Wage Records. Many people do not keep records of their wages anymore because of direct deposits. However, as soon as you begin the process of filing your claim, you should collect all of your wage records, including bonuses, that you obtained while working for your current employer. If you don’t have these records already, you can obtain them from your employer usually through the Human Resources department.
Having excellent documentation that is accurate and detailed will give you a strong foundation for a winning case should your claim be disputed.
Step 4: Adhere To Deadlines
The U.S. Department of Labor processes DBA claims. During the entire process, they enforce strict deadlines. Not adhering to these deadlines puts you at risk of not being able to pursue compensation. The process is long and full of paperwork that you need to file on time and correctly. An experienced DBA attorney can help you through the entire process, including reaching deadlines.
Filing and prosecuting a DBA claim is a long and arduous process sometimes ending in dispute and litigation. Having an attorney that focuses on the Defense Base Act will be your support through the entire process. At Moschetta Law, our DBA lawyers can be your guide through the DBA claim process. We’ll protect your rights and help you obtain the benefits you deserve. Contact us today to get guidance on filing your DBA claim.