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 activities.
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 attainable recovery
- 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 DBA/LHWCA lawyer.
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 DBA/LHWCA benefits.
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 medicine/rehabilitation
- 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.
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