The Defense Base Act and Worker's Compensation
Worker's Compensation for government contractor employees at overseas
defense bases and related activities
For any number of reasons, no one is sure exactly how many Americans are
employed by government contractors who are providing direct and indirect
support to both American and "friendly" foreign nations'
national defense programs. Regardless of the actual numbers of such employees,
and the nature of their employment, each contractor is required by law
to provide Worker's Compensation benefits to its employees.
On this page, the special Worker's Compensation programs lawyer at the
Doan Law Firm will explain the benefits that are available to workers, through the Defense
Base Act (DBA) and the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA),
who are employed by government contractors at overseas locations. He will
then provide an explanation of when it may be advisable for an injured
worker to consult an attorney with experience in dealing with both employers
and their insurance carriers should a dispute involving compensation arise.
What is the Defense Base Act (DBA)?
The Defense Base Act (DBA) came into being in 1941, during the early days of the
Lend-Lease Program. Its original intent was to provide Worker's Compensation-style benefits
to employees of private contractors performing war services at overseas
U. S. bases by extending the already-existing Longshore and Harbor Workers
Compensation Act (LHWCA). It has since been expanded to include peacetime
The DBA/LHWCA programs are overseen, but not directly administered, by
the Department of Labor's
Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP).
What benefits are available to employees
Benefits provided through DBA/LHWCA insurance are considered to be superior
to those available from "regular" Worker's Compensation
programs. Theses benefits include, but are not limited to:
- 67% of your average weekly wages while you are unable to work
- Full medical coverage, so long as it is necessary to treat your injuries,
until you have recovered completely or have reached the point of maximum
- Continuation of all benefits if you are permanently disabled
- Provision of partial benefits for permanent partial disability
Since benefits may change, you should discuss this topic with an experienced
Responsibilities of injured employees
No one expects to be injured on the job, even if your job is providing
security services at a forward combat base on the other side of the world.
If you do suffer an injury, you have certain responsibilities:
You must notify your immediate supervisor, or his/ her designate,
immediately (or as soon as possible) after an injury.
- You must also follow-up that notification by completing form LS 201 as
soon as is physically possible.
- You are also required to file a form LS 203 with the Office of Workers'
Compensation Programs (OWCP), again as soon as possible after your injury.
You have 1 year to file this form, but you should file as soon you possibly can!
Your employer's insurance carrier will undoubtedly have its own paperwork
for you to complete as well. You should make every reasonable to comply
with such requests, but
only forms LS 201 and 203 are required for you to receive medical and other
Who pays my legal expenses if I can't reach a settlement with my employer?
Like other Worker's Compensation programs, you
cannot file a lawsuit against your employer regardless of how much your employer's
negligence contributed to your injury. You can, however, retain a lawyer
to help you negotiate a settlement with your employer and/or your employer's
insurance carrier. The only exception to the "no lawsuit" rule
is if your lawyer is able to identify a "third party" whose
negligence may have contributed to your injury. Third parties can be sued
even if you are barred from filing a lawsuit against your employer.
By law, your attorney
cannot agree to represent your DBA/LHWCA claim on a contingency fee basis (where
your lawyer represents you in return for a percentage of your final claim
settlement amount). Instead, your lawyer must agree to submit a bill for
his or her hourly charges and other expenses to an administrative law
judge for approval and payment. This aspect of a DBA/LHWCA claim is best
explained by a lawyer who is familiar with the facts surrounding your injuries.
How a Defense Base Act / Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act
lawyer can help injured government contractor employees
DBA/LHWCA claims can be quite complicated, particularly when disability
issues are raised. That being said, these claims are "winnable"
but you will need the assistance of a lawyer who:
- is familiar with the intricate body of law relating to DBA/LHWCA claims
and how they may apply to your unique injuries
- has access to medical specialists in all specialties, particularly in physical
- has enough previous experience to make an accurate assessment of an injured
worker's potential for a full recovery from an injury
- is ready to stand up to your employer, and its insurance carrier, to fight
for your legal right to receive fair compensation for your injury
One such lawyer is the Defense Base Act compensation lawyer at the
Doan Law Firm, a nationwide personal injury and compensation law practice with offices
located in major cities across the country.
When you work with the Defense Base Act compensation lawyer at the Doan
Law firm, your case will be managed by a team that knows how attention
to the smallest details is often the one critical factor that separates a
successful lawsuit from a mediocre
settlement! We invite you to contact our firm today to arrange a
free review of your DBA/LHWCA claim and a discussion of the legal options that may
be available to you.