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common questions about dba insurance claims

The Defense Base Act is an important federal law protecting government contractors working overseas. But what is the Defense Base Act, and who does it cover? Understanding your rights under this act is extremely important if you work for a covered employer.

The following are some frequently asked questions regarding the Defense Base Act.

What is the Defense Base Act?

The Defense Base Act (DBA) is a federal law in the United States that provides workers’ compensation to civilian employees working on U.S. military bases outside the United States. It also covers civilian workers under a contract with the U.S. government for “public works or national defense.”

Public work includes any fixed improvement or any project involving construction, alteration, removal, or repair for public use of the U.S. or its allies. Public work also includes contract projects and operations in connection with national defense. Click here to learn more about the Defense Base Act.

Who Does the Defense Base Act Cover?

You qualify for Defense Base Act coverage if you’re a U.S. citizen, foreign national, or legal resident who is employed working:

  • For private employers on a U.S. military base or land outside the United States, including in U.S. territories;
  • On public work contracts for a U.S. government agency;
  • On contracts approved and funded under the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act; and
  • For American employers providing welfare outside the U.S. for the benefit of the Armed Services.

If the employer also provides transportation to or from the job, the DBA covers injuries or deaths that occur during that transportation.

Does the DBA Cover Non-U.S. Citizens or Foreign Nationals?

Yes. The DBA covers foreign nationals and all employees who meet the necessary criteria, whether U.S. citizens or nationals local to overseas employment.

What Types of Injuries Are Covered Under the DBA?

The types of injuries covered under the DBA include any work-related injuries or illnesses that occur while an employee is working overseas under a U.S. government contract.

What is a DBA Scheduled Injury?

A DBA scheduled injury is a specific injury listed in the Defense Base Act schedule that occurs while an employee is working for a U.S. government contractor overseas. Compensation is determined based on the severity of the injury and the employee’s average weekly wage.

What is a DBA Non-Scheduled Injury?

A DBA non-scheduled injury is an injury that is not listed in the DBA schedule, and compensation is determined based on the severity of the injury, the employee’s average weekly wage, and their loss of earning capacity.

Are Illnesses or Diseases Contracted While Working Overseas Covered Under the DBA?

Illnesses or diseases contracted while working overseas are covered under the DBA as long as there is a causal connection between the employment and the condition.

What Kinds of Benefits Does the DBA Offer?

For covered employees injured on the job, the Defense Base Act provides disability and medical benefits. These can include partial lost earnings, rehabilitation services, and medical treatment. Click here to learn more about defense base act benefits.

For survivors of covered employees killed in the course of employment or as a result of their employment, the DBA provides death benefits. Death benefits under the DBA are typically equal to two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly earnings. Click here to learn more about death benefits under the defense base act.

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim Under the DBA?

To file a claim under the DBA, you generally have one year from the date of injury or the last payment of compensation to submit your claim, but exceptions may apply in certain circumstances.

How Do I File a DBA Claim?

Filing a claim under the Defense Base Act involves notifying your employer, seeking medical treatment, and completing the necessary paperwork, including Form LS-203, to submit to the Department of Labor.

The Department of Labor’s Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation (DLHWC) handles DBA claim submissions. Employees can submit written claims within one year after the date of injury or last payment. Depending on the situation, employees can file a dba claim online, by mail, or by fax.

What Should I Do if My DBA Claim is Denied?

If your DBA claim is denied, it is advisable to consult with an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the appeals process and fight for your benefits.

Can I Appeal a Denied DBA Claim? If So, How?

You have the right to appeal a denied DBA claim. To do so, you can request a formal hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) and potentially pursue further appeals if necessary. It is recommended to seek the advice of an experienced attorney who specializes in DBA claims to assist with the appeals process and provide guidance on how to strengthen your case.

How Are DBA Benefits Calculated?

DBA benefits are calculated based on the employee’s average weekly wage and the severity of the disability or injury. The specific calculation method may vary depending on the circumstances of each case.

Are Family Members Eligible for Benefits if a Worker is Killed While Working Overseas?

Yes. These benefits may include compensation for the deceased worker’s lost wages, funeral expenses, and survivor benefits for the worker’s spouse, children, or other eligible dependents. The specific amount and eligibility requirements for DBA survivor benefits depend on the circumstances of each case.

Can I Receive Both DBA Benefits and Disability Benefits from Another Source?

Yes, it is possible to receive both DBA benefits and disability benefits from another source. However, the amount of DBA benefits may be reduced or offset by the amount of the other disability benefits you receive to prevent double recovery for the same injury or illness. 

How Long Do DBA Benefits Last?

The duration of DBA benefits varies depending on the injury or illness. Temporary benefits may last until the employee reaches maximum medical improvement, while permanent benefits may continue for life. 

Does the Defense Base Act Cover Trauma and PTSD Claims?

Yes, the Defense Base Act will cover disability due to PTSD if linked to the worker’s overseas employment. Click here to learn more about PTSD claims under the defense base act.

Does the Defense Base Act Cover Psychological Injuries?

Yes, the Defense Base Act covers mental health and psychological injuries. The DBA provides benefits for medical treatment, counseling, and disability compensation for such injuries that are caused by or arising out of employment. This includes PTSD and the delayed onset of PTSD related to employment.

Can I Choose My Own Doctor for Treatment of a DBA-Covered Injury?

Yes. Under the DBA, you have the right to choose your own treating physician. However, it’s important to note that the chosen doctor or medical provider must be authorized by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP). The OWCP maintains a list of authorized medical providers, and the injured worker can choose a doctor or medical provider from this list.

What Should I Do if My Employer or Insurer Refuses to Authorize Medical Treatment?

If your employer or insurer refuses to authorize medical treatment for a work-related injury covered by the Defense Base Act, we encourage you to obtain legal representation. A DBA attorney can help you file a claim with the Department of Labor and protect your rights. 

Can I Be Fired for Filing a DBA Claim?

No. Under the DBA, it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee for filing a claim for work-related injuries or illnesses. If you have been terminated for filing a DBA claim, you should contact an attorney who specializes in DBA claims to protect your rights.

What Are the Potential Legal Remedies if My Employer Retaliates Against Me for Filing a DBA Claim?

If your employer retaliates against you for filing a DBA claim, potential legal remedies include job reinstatement, back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and costs. To pursue these remedies, you may need to file a retaliation claim with the U.S. Department of Labor or file a lawsuit with the help of an attorney.

How Do I Prove That My Injury is Related to My Employment Overseas?

To prove that your injury is related to your employment overseas under the Defense Base Act (DBA), you will need to provide medical evidence that the injury was caused by or arose out of your employment. This can include medical records, witness statements, and other evidence demonstrating the causal relationship between your injury and your employment. An experienced DBA attorney can help you with this process. 

What If My Injury Occurred While I Was Off-Duty or on Leave?

Injuries that occur off-duty or on leave may still be covered under the DBA if a connection can be established between the injury and overseas employment.

Can I Sue My Employer or a Third Party for Negligence in Addition to Receiving DBA Benefits?

Yes, you may be able to sue your employer or a third party for negligence in addition to receiving Defense Base Act (DBA) benefits. If your injury was caused by the negligence of your employer or a third party, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover additional damages not covered by the DBA. 

What Is the Role of the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) in DBA Claims?

The role of the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) in DBA claims is to administer and oversee the claims process. OWCP is a part of the U.S. Department of Labor and is responsible for ensuring that injured workers receive the benefits they are entitled to under the DBA.

How Can a DBA Attorney Help Me with My Claim?

A DBA attorney can help you with your claim by providing expert guidance on the complex DBA process, assisting with the preparation and filing of your claim, representing you in hearings and appeals, and advocating for your rights to ensure you receive the compensation and benefits you deserve.

What Should I Look for When Choosing a DBA Attorney?

When choosing a DBA attorney, you should look for experience in handling DBA cases, a strong track record of successful outcomes, knowledge of the nuances of DBA law, and a commitment to providing personalized attention and support throughout the process. Don’t settle for an attorney that “just settles.” At Grossman Attorneys at Law, our litigators aren’t afraid to go to trial for justice.

How Are DBA Attorney Fees Determined?

DBA attorney fees are determined by a combination of factors, such as the complexity of the case, the attorney’s experience, and the level of representation required. In many cases, DBA attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if they successfully recover benefits for their clients.

Are There Any Time Limits for Filing an Appeal in a DBA Case?

Time limits for filing an appeal in a DBA case depend on the stage of the process. For example, you generally have one year from the date of the injury to file a claim, 60 days from the date of denial to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, and 30 days from the date of the ALJ’s decision to appeal to the Benefits Review Board.

What Happens If My Employer Did Not Obtain DBA Insurance?

Employers who fail to secure DBA insurance may face criminal penalties, including fines or imprisonment, and executives of corporate employers may be held personally liable. Employees in this situation have the additional option to sue for damages instead of filing a DBA claim.

What Is the War Hazards Compensation Act, and How Does It Relate to the DBA?

The War Hazards Compensation Act (WHCA) is a U.S. federal law that provides additional benefits to workers injured or killed due to war-related hazards while working under a U.S. government contract. The WHCA can provide compensation in certain situations where the DBA does not cover an injury or death. The WHCA and DBA can work together to provide comprehensive coverage for employees while working overseas.

Can I Receive Compensation for Permanent Disabilities Under the DBA?

Yes. Under the DBA, you can receive compensation for permanent disabilities, which are determined by the severity and impact of the disability on your ability to work. Benefits for permanent disabilities may include compensation for loss of earning capacity and, in some cases, vocational rehabilitation services.

What is the Purpose of Defense Base Act Mediation?

The purpose of Defense Base Act mediation is to provide an informal and confidential process for resolving disputes related to DBA claims without the need for a formal hearing or trial.

When Do I Need a DBA Workers Compensation Attorney?

You need a DBA workers’ compensation attorney if you’re a civilian contractor working overseas and injured on the job. An attorney can assist you in filing a DBA claim, navigating the claims process, and obtaining the benefits you’re entitled to under the law.

How Long is a Typical Longshore or Defense Base Act Trial?

The length of a typical Longshore or Defense Base Act trial varies, depending on the complexity of the case, the number of witnesses, and other factors. However, these trials typically last several days to several weeks.

Do I Have to Pay Taxes on My Defense Base Act Benefits or Settlement?

No, you generally do not have to pay taxes on Defense Base Act (DBA) benefits, as they are considered tax-free income under federal law. However, DBA settlements may be subject to federal and state income taxes, depending on the specific terms of the settlement and the circumstances of your case.

What is a Defense Base Act Waiver?

A Defense Base Act (DBA) waiver is an agreement between an employer and an employee that waives the employer’s obligation to provide DBA insurance coverage for the employee. The waiver may be used in situations where the employee is covered by other insurance, such as a health insurance plan, or is otherwise not eligible for DBA coverage. The U.S. Department of Labor must approve waivers to ensure they are valid and legally binding.

How Much Disability Can You Get Under the DBA?

The amount of disability benefits you can receive under the Defense Base Act (DBA) depends on your level of disability. DBA benefits can provide up to two-thirds of your average weekly wage, subject to minimum and maximum compensation limits, as well as additional compensation for permanent disabilities or the loss of use of specific body parts.

Are Aggravation Injuries Covered Under the DBA?

Yes. Aggravation injuries are generally covered under the Defense Base Act (DBA) if they were caused by your work activities or conditions while working overseas as a civilian contractor. Aggravation injuries occur when a work-related incident or activity worsens a pre-existing condition or injury.

Who is Responsible for my DBA Attorney Fees?

The party responsible for Defense Base Act (DBA) attorney fees is typically the employer or the insurance company. 

What is Defense Base Act Insurance?

Defense Base Act insurance covers the payment of workers’ compensation benefits under the DBA. The Act requires all employers, contractors, and subcontractors to obtain insurance securing payment of any workers’ compensation claims.

Defense Base Act coverage includes benefits for disability and medical expenses for those injured in the course of their employment. Keep in mind that DBA insurance is not 24-hour coverage; that is, the DBA does not cover non-work related activity, including travel during breaks or rest and relaxation. Click here to learn more about Defense Base Act Insurance.

Are There Exceptions to DBA Coverage?

Yes. The DBA does not apply to employees covered by the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act, employees engaged in casual employment not in the usual course of trade, and masters or crewmembers of any vessel.

What is The Average Defense Base Act Claim Worth?

The dollar value of your defense base act claim depends on many factors, and a thorough review of your case file by a seasoned DBA attorney would be needed to get an estimate. That said, Grossman Attorneys at Law have won settlements for our clients ranging from $150,000 to $1,400,000 for DBA claims. Click here to learn more about how defense base act settlement amounts are calculated.

Who Needs DBA Insurance?

Any employer, contractor, or subcontractor with civilian employees overseas is required to obtain DBA insurance.

Do Subcontractors Have to Have Their Own DBA Insurance, or Are They Covered by Their Prime Contractor’s Insurance?

Defense Base Act coverage does not pass to contractors or subcontractors. Each employer must have its own DBA insurance. Accordingly, it is important to verify that contractors and subcontractors are covered by an active DBA insurance plan.

Does the DBA Apply to U.S. Territories?

Yes. The DBA covers employees on any foreign U.S. military base or other U.S.-owned land.

Does the DBA Cover Work Performed Under a Grant?

No. Federal law distinguishes between contracts and grants, and the DBA only covers work performed under contract. However, a separate section of the DBA covers work financed by the U.S. through the Foreign Assistance Act.

What Should I Do If I’m Injured at Work?

If you are injured at work, you should immediately report the injury to your supervisor and obtain medical treatment. Be sure to document the details of the injury, including the date, time, and circumstances surrounding the incident. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may also need to file a workers’ compensation claim or a Defense Base Act claim. It’s important to consult with an attorney who specializes in these types of claims to help ensure your legal rights are protected and that you receive the benefits you are entitled to under the law.

What Should I Do If I Have a Defense Base Act Claim?

If you’ve been injured or someone has been killed while under DBA coverage, hiring a lawyer who specializes in Defense Base Act claims is the best thing you can do. They will help you navigate the claims process and ensure you don’t miss any important deadlines or fail to submit the required information.

How Long Does It Take to Resolve a DBA Insurance Claim?

Like other types of insurance claims, it is impossible to estimate how long it will take. Every case is different, and factors like the nature of the accident, the evidence available, and how it happened can have a significant effect on the complexity of each case.

What Does It Mean If a Waiver Covers My Work Contract?

Employers may apply with the Secretary of Labor to waive Defense Base Act requirements for any contract, work location, or class of employees. However, a waiver does not mean you will lose coverage under the DBA.

First, employers may still voluntarily offer DBA coverage even to waived employees or contracts. Second, employers must provide alternative workers’ compensation benefits under local law. If no such local benefits exist, the waiver is invalid.

Need Help with Your Defense Base Act Claim?

Grossman Attorneys at Law represents employees and civilian contractors covered by the Defense Base Act. If you’ve been injured working abroad on a U.S. government contract, we can help. Don’t settle for an attorney that “just settles.” Our litigators aren’t afraid to go to trial for justice. Contact us today through our website or by phone to schedule a free consultation.

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