5 Things to Watch Out for as an Injured Civilian Contractor


Working overseas as a government contractor can bring with it adventure, high pay, and great opportunities. However, it can also bring with it a high risk of personal danger as many contractors end up working in hot spots such as a war zone or post-natural disasters. In fact, many private contractors will work closely with their military counterparts, which means they will be in the same level of danger as a soldier. Sustaining a workplace injury is one thing, but being an injured civilian contractor overseas present a whole new set of challenges.

Because of the unique situation of overseas civilian contractors, the United States government passed the Defense Base Act (DBA),. which is administered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. This Act protects you and your benefits if your injured on the job. Under the Defense Base Act, you are given the same benefits as many other workers’ compensation programs such as medical reimbursement, loss wage compensation, disability, and even death benefits.

However, although the DBA protects your benefits, filing a Defense Base Act claim is not easy or simple. In fact, chances are that your DBA case will end in a dispute between you and the DBA insurance company as they try to save money and deny or limit your benefits of offer a low-ball settlement. You might have a clear-cut case that you feel is an obvious win, but the insurance company may dispute your case and fight you at every turn.  They may hire investigators and doctors in an effort to limit or  deny you benefits.

As an injured civilian contractor, there are five things to watch out for that could make your case harder to win.

1.   There is a Statute of Limitations for an Injured Civilian Contractor

Like most workplace injuries, there is a statute of limitations for filing a claim for your contractor injury. The DBA stipulates that you must file a claim within a year after your injury, or if you’re being paid worker’s compensation benefits, within one year of your last payment.  There are other exceptions to the 1-year rule but involve fact-intensive analysis.  So even though we generally have this 1-year deadline, it might not be so clear for those who have aggravated injuries or for those diagnosed with PTSD and other psychological and emotional injuries but continue to work, etc.  Or if you stopped working but did not realize the full extent and character of your injuries, the deadline may be extended.

In most cases, you should not wait to file your claim. The longer you wait, the more difficult it  may be to win or achieve a good settlement. Moreover, if your injury is not so clear-cut, it would be best to consult a DBA attorney as soon as possible after getting medical attention to understand your rights and options and review your case.

2.   You Don’t Keep all Your Records

This can be a difficult thing to do when you’re overseas and you’re dealing with an injury. However, it is imperative to the outcome of your Defense Base Act case that you keep all your records. This is another reason why seeking the counsel of a DBA lawyer is so important as they can tell you those records you need to keep and also keep and maintain those records for you so you can focus on your medical treatment. Such records include:

  • Compensation and wage information;
  • Medical records, including doctor’s orders, doctor visit summaries, treatment programs, prescriptions, etc.;
  • Your original work contract along with any guides or employment manuals;
  • Injury and incident reports;
  • Original claim;
  • Any communication about your injury.

3.   There are Conflicting Reports

Even if you tell the truth throughout the whole process, if the insurance company hears a different side of the story from a witness, they might deny your claim entirely. You always want to tell the whole truth and be honest during the entire process; this is especially important to do with your lawyer should have one. Furthermore, when it comes to reporting your injury, simply give the facts of what happened and be sure to complete any incident reports required by your employer.

4.   You were not Working within Your Contractual Duties

Many of us hard workers like to go above and beyond to get the job done. Sometimes, we may even overstep our job duties and responsibilities to be helpful. As an overseas contractor, this may be a mistake. If you are injured while performing duties outside your contract, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier could dispute and deny your claim. Making sure you are well aware of your duties and your employer’s expectations and that fall in line with a reasonable contract will help you.

This also goes for the location and time of the injury. However, a case may be made if an injury was sustained while keeping up with the expectations of the contract regardless of location and time. For example, if you slip in the shower and injure yourself, this might seem like it would  not be covered by the Defense Base Act.  However, under the “Zone of Special Danger” doctrine,  this injury should be covered under the DBA.  In order to prove this, however, you’ll need an experience lawyer who understand the Defense Base Act and has had previous cases dealing with the “Zone of Special Danger”.

Dealing with an Injury and a Complicated DBA Case

As an injured civilian contractor overseas, you already have enough to worry about with getting better and dealing with a financial situation. Having also to deal with a complicated claim and possible disputed case just adds more stress to an already stressful situation. This is why it’s important to talk to a DBA attorney as soon as possible before filing your claim. You want to have the best chance possible to receive the compensation you deserve.

The lawyers at Moschetta Law are experienced attorneys that who focus on Defense Base Act cases. They will fight for you and your benefits, supporting you every step of the way. If you’re injured overseas as a contractor and your covered under the Defense Base Act, contact our office today.