Defense Base Act Lawyers
What Is The Defense Base Act?
The Defense Base Act is an extension of the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act that was enacted by Congress in 1941. It provides workers’ compensation protection to civilian employees working outside the United States on U.S. military bases or under a contract with the U.S. government for public works or for national defense. This includes both residents and non-residents of the U.S.
The Defense Base Act requires all U.S. government contractors and subcontractors to secure workers’ compensation insurance for their employees working overseas. This insurance is the same as the insurance maritime employers are required to have under the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
The number of civilian workers employed by U.S. government contractors covered by the Defense Base Act has increased dramatically since U.S. Military action began in Afghanistan and Iraq. Every day, thousands of civilian workers help to support our troops by acquiring and delivering products and services, providing security and acting as translators for military personnel in combat and non-combat situations.
These civilian workers are employed by companies like L-3 Communications, Global Linguist Solutions (GLS), Service Employees International (SEII), Halliburton, Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR), DynCorp, Fluor, Calnet, SOS Int’l, Mission Essential Personnel (MES), Global Integrated Security, Worldwide Languages, AECOM, McNeil Technologies, Torres AES, Science Applications Int’l Corp. (SAIC), Exelis Mission Systems and Blackwater Security Consulting.
The U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP), Division of Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation, administers the Defense Base Act. The OWCP’s job is to ensure that workers’ compensation benefits are provided for covered employees. The Defense Base Act, like other workers compensation laws, was enacted so injured workers could receive prompt medical treatment and a portion of their lost wages while recuperating from an injury. That way, injured workers were more likely to get the proper medical treatment immediately following an injury, which in turn, made it more likely that they would recover and return to work sooner.
Unfortunately, however, some Defense Base Act insurance carriers, like CNA, ACE, AIG Companies such as Chartis, Worldsource and the Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania and Zurich Insurance Company often fail to deliver the benefits that the Defense Base Act provides. Instead, they unfairly and unjustly delay or deny payment of benefits.
Contact an experienced Defense Base Act attorney at The Moschetta Law Firm, P.C. to learn your rights.
What You Need To Know About Defense Base Act Coverage
When the Defense Base Act was enacted in 1941, it only applied to those working for the U.S. government and the employers on U.S. military bases. However, as U.S. foreign interests and military actions have increased over the past half-century, so has the need to have contractors working overseas that do not directly work for the military. Today, Defense Base Act coverage extends to both citizens and non-citizens working under public works contracts, including most government jobs overseas.
Types of Covered Employees & Eligibility:
- You’re an employee or contractor working on U.S. military bases outside the US.
- You’re working on a public work contract with U.S. government agencies. These contracts are often service-related, such as construction. They are also oftentimes in war zones or previous war zones, being associated with war or national defense activities. Again, the work must be done on foreign soil.
- You work for an American company that provides welfare services to the United States Armed Forces operating on foreign soil, such as the United Services Organization.
- If you work for welfare and humanitarian projects outside the United States, such as working for the American Red Cross or The Salvation Army, you are also covered. Many of these projects are funded by the Foreign Assistance Act.
What Types of Benefits are Available under the Defense Base Act?
The Defense Base Act provides disability and medical benefits to covered employees injured in the course of employment and death benefits to eligible survivors of employees killed in the course of employment. Compensation for total disability is two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly earnings, up to a current maximum rate per week, which is presently $1,256.84. Compensation is also payable for partial loss of earnings.
Death benefits are paid at the rate of one-half of the employee’s average weekly earnings to a surviving spouse or one child, or two-thirds of average weekly earnings for two or more eligible survivors up to the current maximum rate of per week. The Defense Base Act also incorporates the Longshore Act’s provision for payment of reasonable funeral expenses up to $3,000.00.
Permanent total disability and death benefits may be payable for life and are subject to the annual cost of living adjustments.
An injured employee is also entitled to medical treatment by a physician of his or her choice, as the injury may require.
Your Guide To Filing A DBA Claim
It’s important to follow the DBA claim process step-by-step to avoid mistakes that could delay your benefits or lead to a complete denial of your benefits.
- Get medical attention. This is the most important step and although this seems obvious, many people forgo getting medical attention because of cost or because they don’t think their injury is serious enough. If you have an injury, the sooner you get it looked at, your claim and case will be stronger. Moreover, your medical expenses are all reimbursable.
- Report your injury immediately. The sooner you can report your injury, the more likely it is that your claim will be paid out. Furthermore, reporting your injury as soon as possible means your employer will have documentation and be able to file an incident report, the LS-201. The sooner your employer files an incident, the sooner you will receive your benefits.
- Keep all documentation as it pertains to your case: injury and incident reports, medical records, the original claim, any communication, ongoing medical records, and wage records. The more documentation you can provide, the easier it will be to prove your case.
- Adhere to deadlines. The U.S. Department of Labor, who processes DBA claims, enforce strict deadlines. If you miss a deadline, you put yourself at risk of not being able to pursue compensation.
Your Guide To Winning A Defense Base Act Insurance Settlement
It might seem that you have a clear-cut case for receiving compensation for your injury. However, DBA claims are expensive for insurance companies to pay out. This means they will try to lower your compensation or deny your claim outright. Whether your case heads to litigation or you work out a settlement, here are some steps to follow to ensure you win the settlement you deserve.
- File your claim on time and correctly.
- Keep all your records and any information related to the incident.
- Keep diligent medical records.
- Always tell the truth.
- Bring a DBA attorney with you to any meetings.
- Know ahead of time what you think a fair settlement is and how you want to structure your payments.
Reasons Why Your Defense Base Act Claim Was Denied
Even if you think you have a straightforward case, your claim may still be denied. There are many reasons as to why an insurance company might deny or contest your claim, and it’s not just about money.
- It’s unclear whether your injury is a workplace injury. Employment contracts can be littered with legal jargon that many people don’t understand. If you think your injury was due to your employment, it’s important to look carefully over your contract with a DBA lawyer to determine whether your injury is eligible for compensation.
- Your injury wasn’t serious enough or didn’t require medical attention. An insurance company might think your injury didn’t require medical attention most likely if you didn’t document your injury well enough.
- You can still work. In this case, your disability compensation is being disputed because the insurance company believes you can still work in some capacity either through your current employer or at another similar job. You need to get it in writing from your doctor the extent of your disability. Furthermore, if you’re unable to find work despite a diligent job search, you are still entitled to make the claim for payment of compensation.
If your claim is being contested or denied, and yet you still believe you’re entitled to your DBA benefits, it’s important to contact a Defense Base Act attorney immediately. They will be able to review your case in its entirety and let you know whether you have a winning case.
PTSD And Defense Base Act Workers Compensation
PTSD is not a rare occurrence for those contractors working overseas, especially those that work directly with the military in war zones. In fact, RAND, a research organization, found that 25% of contractors that worked in dangerous zones qualified for PTSD. Still, many insurance carriers may try to deny a PTSD claim because of the controversial nature of the condition.
However, PTSD is a covered condition under the Defense Base Act and you’re entitled to the same benefits as any eligible contractor.
PTSD can be classified as a traumatic injury, subject to a one-year Statue of Limitations. However, it can also be classified as an occupational disease because symptoms may not appear for many months or even years. In this case, you have to two years after you become aware of your symptoms to file your DBA claim.
If you think you may be suffering from PTSD, you should first seek medical attention and professional help. Then, file your Defense Base Act claim. The claim process is the same as any DBA claim.
When To Consult A Defense Base Act Attorney
File a Defense Base Act claim can be a long process. From gathering the right documents to filing the right paperwork to adhering to deadlines, it can be overwhelming and feel like it’s dragging on. All the while, you’re trying to recover from your injury. However, your first priority is your health. While trying to get better, you shouldn’t also have to worry about whether your claim was filed on time and correctly. This is why having a DBA attorney help you through the process is so important.
Moreover, a DBA attorney is going to review your case thoroughly and make sure that you have a strong case for your claim. After knowing that you need to file a claim, you should reach out to a lawyer that specializes in DBA cases as soon as possible.
A Defense Base Act attorney is going to make sure:
- You file your claim on time and correctly.
- You’re not pressured to take a lower settlement than what you’re entitled to receive.
- You receive the maximum compensation available.
- You don’t have to pay anything back if an employer or insurance company argues the case.
- Your benefits and rights are protected.
The sooner you’re able to consult an attorney on your DBA case, the higher the chance you have in winning the maximum settlement you deserve. At Moschetta Law, we specialize in Defense Base Act cases, which means we know how DBA insurance carriers operate and the best way to win a settlement. If you need to file a DBA claim or have a current claim pending, give us a call today to give yourself the best chance for receiving what you deserve.