Were you hurt on a military base overseas? Civilian contractors employed as electricians, engineers, interpreters, and other skilled trades are exposed to similar dangers as military personnel. In some cases, they may be hurt while performing the duties of their job, and find themselves dealing with a severe injury far from home.
Were you injured while employed overseas on a civilian contract that provided support to our military? If you were stationed in Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia, or elsewhere, you may be entitled to benefits under the Defense Base Act as a result of your injuries.
CHASENBOSCOLO offers dedicated legal services to hard-working civilian contractors who help our military improve their jobs. If you’ve been hurt on a military base, turn to a legal team that understands how to get you the fair compensation you need to pay your medical bills and support yourself and your family. Our Maryland Defense Base Act lawyers are here to sit down with you to discuss your rights and legal options, so call us at (301) 220-0050 or contact us online right away to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
What is the Defense Base Act?
An offshoot of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, the Defense Base Act, P.L.77-208,was signed into law in 1941 to insure and compensate injured workers who are involved with overseas defense contracts. Under the Defense Base Act, injured workers can receive the equivalent of workers’ compensation. This benefit is offered strictly to civilian contractors employed in contingency projects in countries with an active military installment.
The goal of the DBA is to extend benefits to workers who were injured outside of America’s workers’ compensation system. Although injured workers are afforded the right to receive monetary assistance after an injury, benefits are not guaranteed; there’s a system in place which requires reporting the incident and filing paperwork with the Office of Workers’ Compensation Program (OWCP).
What Work Activities are Covered under the Defense Base Act?
To be eligible for benefits, one of the following work activities must apply, according to the Department of Labor:
- The injured person must be employed by private contractors on U.S. military bases or on any lands used by the U.S. for military defense or similar reasons in locations outside U.S. territory but with U.S. interests
- The injured person must be involved in public work contracts, such as construction and general services, in conjunction with U.S. war activities or military exercises on foreign soil;
- The injury occurred while the contractor was working with American companies to prove humanitarian efforts or similar aid to other countries for the benefit of the U.S. Armed Forces
- The worker was injured during the commission of an approved sale of merchandise and other goods to the military and its allies outside the United States and in accordance with the Foreign Assistance Act.
If those conditions apply, benefits regardless of nationality, sex, creed, color, or religion.
Companies Who Typically Hire Civilian Contractors
The United States extends contracts to many American companies who specialize in equipment, munitions, and general forward support to military operations across the world. The more common contractors include Lockheed Martin, Blackwater, CSA, CACI, Halliburton, Brown & Root, CSA, Ltd., KBR, L-3 Communications, Prime Projects International, Triple Canopy, Service Employees International, Dyncorp, EG&G, Kellogg, and Bechtel.
If your company isn’t on that list, but you were injured while providing services according to the Department of Labor requirements, contact CHASENBOSCOLO immediately to make sure they’re DBA compliant and approved by the government to operate on overseas military bases.
Contractors are required to have a workers’ compensation insurance policy approved by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Program prior to hiring employees and starting new contracts, which is covered in Sections 1(a)(4) and (5) of the Defense Base Act.
Reporting Injuries and Filing Claims under the DBA
When an accident occurs while performing approved work activities, the injured person and employer must follow protocol to begin the claim process. The requirements are as follows:
- The employee must provide notice of injury to their supervisor, both orally and written (using Form LS 201).
- The injured employee should seek and receive medical care for their injuries, keeping track of any bills that are not covered by their personal insurer or the employer.
- The employer will then submit a completed LS 202, Employer’s First Report of Injury, to the OWCP. The office must receive this report within ten days of the accident; electronic filing is available to the employer.
- Next, the employee will file LS 203, Employee’s Claim for Compensation, and submit the completed form to the OWCP within one year of the injury. For occupational-related injuries, the deadline is two years from when the employee connected the injury to their employment.
- From there, the OWCP will offer technical assistance to insurers, employers, and injured workers to streamline the benefits disbursement process.
If any disputes arise, a request for a formal hearing by the Office of Administrative Law Judges will be required. Disputes escalate to the U.S. District Court, followed by the U.S. Court of Appeals. Appellate court decisions are final and cannot be appealed.
An experienced Defense Base Act lawyer can help with the claims process after you’ve reported your injury, taking unneeded stress off your shoulders while you recover.
What Benefits are Available to Injured Workers?
If your claim is approved, you’ll begin receiving the same benefits that people who file workers’ compensation receive, including a weekly payment and medical benefits. Other benefits that apply to Defense Base Act claims include:
- Survivor benefits if the employee died while working overseas
- Disability payments if the injury is expected to prevent future work
- Payments for lost earnings capacity
- Payment of medical bills accrued prior to claim approval
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Pain and suffering compensation (if the injury is the result of another’s negligence)
- Reimbursement for any other expenses in connection with your injury
A mandatory three-day waiting period applies, as dictated by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. If the injury is expected to last longer than three days, benefits will be made available.
Compensation is normally calculated by dividing an employee’s annual wages by 52 and multiplying by two-thirds. Once benefits begin, they continue until the employer finds a suitable job for the employee given their incapacities or the employee returns to work at regular capacity.
Frequently Asked Questions about DBA Claims
With good reason, the Secretary of Labor can waive the application of the Defense Base Act to any and all contracts, classes of employees, or employers. Such a request must be made in writing to the OWCP and is contingent on the employer being able to provide an alternative workers’ compensation plan to its employees.
Aliens and nonresident workers may receive benefits under certain conditions. The amounts may be limited, so you’re encouraged to contact CHASENBOSCOLO to find out what options you may have.
The Defense Base Act can provide up to $3,000 for funeral expenses to offset costs to arrange your loved one’s burial.
Documents can be filed using Longshore’s Secure Electronic Access Portal (SEAPortal), which is networked with OWCP’s system. If you cannot access this portal, contact your lawyer to file the required paperwork on your behalf.
An employer that knowingly or intentionally fails to secure payment from an insurer could be subject to criminal prosecution and could face potential fines and/or jail time.
Since the LHWCA was the basis for the Defense Base Act and the act uses many of its provisions, longshoremen qualify for benefits provided their employment type meets OWCP and DOL requirements.
The companies and agencies we’ll need to work with are headquartered in America, which means our legal services can prove useful, regardless of what country you are stationed in. Our teams have represented injured workers in many foreign lands, and we will help you, too.
We Help Clients with Defense Base Act Claims
Many hard-working civilians have been seriously injured or killed working overseas for U.S. government contractors. Jobs in foreign countries do have inherent risks, but the contractor is responsible for mitigating risk before bringing employees onto the job site.
With over 30 years of exceptional legal work provided to thousands of injured persons across Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., CHASENBOSCOLO knows your family is waiting in America for your safe return, but an injury may hamper your ability to provide for them upon returning home. Our Maryland injury attorneys work diligently to help get benefit claims processed properly and within OWCP guidelines.
If you or someone you love needs help filing injury claims under the Defense Base Act or if your claim was recently denied, contact us immediately at (301) 220-0050. Consultations cost nothing, and you will not be charged legal fees until after your DBA claim is approved.