Did you or a loved one get hurt while working overseas for military purposes or on a government contract? If so, you may be eligible to receive an alternative form of workers’ compensation for your medical care, disability, income losses, and more with a Defense Base Act claim.
The Grossman Attorneys at Law, led by founder Howard Grossman, has earned a reputation as Florida’s top personal injury firm and is also among the nation’s leading law firms representing workers filing claims under the Defense Base Act.
Grossman Attorneys at Law has decades of experience helping government contractors seek the compensation they need to recover. Contact the firm today for a free case evaluation to assess eligibility.
What Is the Defense Base Act?
The Defense Base Act is an extension of the U.S. Worker’s Compensation Program enacted in 1941 to cover employees working overseas in certain capacities for American employers. The policy offers compensation to employees injured while working on a U.S. military base, for national defense or diplomacy or as a civilian on a U.S. federal military contract. The DBA insurance program covers all service contracts and full-time employment positions at U.S. defense bases globally.
The DBA Statute of Limitations – How Much Time Do You have to File?
One of the most common questions our legal team answers is how much time a claimant has to file a Defense Base Act claim. In generally, you have up to one year after the injury occurred to file a DBA claim. Under certain circumstances, the deadline may be extended.
After a qualifying injury overseas, how much time does an employee have to make a Defense Base Act claim? The statute of limitations for DBA claims is typically one year. Most injured workers must file their claim within this period to receive medical benefits, disability payments, and other forms of workers’ compensation.
Employees who contracted an occupational disease during their employment have a two-year period to submit claims. The two-year clock begins after receiving a diagnosis that ties the disease to the workplace. Examples of occupational diseases include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), lung cancer, or other conditions with delayed onset of longer development periods.
When Should the DBA Claim Process Begin?
DBA claims are complicated, lengthy processes involving various steps. Adhering to all deadlines and requirements with the help of an experienced attorney is the best way to receive prompt payment of compensation.
After an eligible employer that carried DBA insurance receives a notification of an employee’s workplace accident, the company has 10 days to file the Employer’s First Report of Injury form (LS-202) with the U.S. Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs. This is the first step of the process. Prompt adherence to this deadline is critical to the claim’s success.
Essentially, the DBA claim process should begin immediately after the accident. Workers with life-threatening injuries should prioritize treatment first, then ensure that they notify their employers, who should complete the appropriate paperwork.
The Defense Base Act Claims Process
The Defense Base Act claims process includes four major steps:
1. Submit an official injury report: Employees must immediately report their injuries or illnesses to their supervisors or employers as soon as they know of their condition. In emergency scenarios, victims should seek medical attention before returning to this step. Employees can submit a Notice of Employee’s Injury or Death form (LS-201) to their employer, who will need to submit the LS-202 form within 10 days.
2. Acquire medical attention: After notifying the employer, the employee should receive a medical evaluation for a confirmed diagnosis and treatment plan. Employees may request a particular provider with a medical treatment authorization form (LS-1).
3. Gather supporting records: Employees should keep track of all relevant documentation surrounding the incident, including medical records, incident reports, insurance coverage, and ongoing clinical records. These documents support the total compensation the employee will need to financially recover.
4. File within the deadline: Injured employees have one year to find legal support and file the DBA claim. Because the claims process involves many complicated legalities, victims need to hire an experienced attorney to ensure that all documents follow the correct rules and timelines.
How To File a Defense Base Act Claim
Employees or their legal representatives may submit a Defense Base Act claim by filing a claim for compensation LS-203 form with the U.S. Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs. This form delivers the injury details to a local district office near the employee’s primary residence. An assigned claim examiner will analyze any potential disputes and claim viability.
What To Do Before Filing a Claim
Before filing, injured employees or their loved ones can take a few steps to support a more successful and efficient claim. Victims should:
- Include specific details on the initial report: The initial injury report should include the exact date, time, and location of the accident. The injury section should state all affected body parts with detailed descriptions and photographs (if possible). Employees should add any supporting details, like available witnesses.
- Gather information before returning home: Receiving medical attention outside of the U.S. healthcare system is complicated. Employees who receive overseas treatments should document the facility’s name, doctor’s name, required treatments and procedures, and copies of all medical records before returning to the United States. Receiving this information after returning is far more difficult.
- Avoid disclosing information to insurance adjusters: Insurance adjusters may call the injured party to ask about various accident details. Disclosing any information with an insurance company without the help of an experienced attorney can result in claim denials. Injured employees can simply respond that they’re unsure of details until they’ve spoken with their lawyer.
- Seek an attorney: Navigating the DBA claims process independently may result in denials, delays, and reduced compensation offers. Injured victims should immediately speak with an attorney about their case before proceeding with any claim steps.
Mistakes To Avoid When Filing a Defense Base Act Claim
Mistakes happen far too often with DBA claims. A minor error can dramatically impact the claim’s success or the amount offered in your settlement. The top mistakes that employees should avoid when building their DBA claims include the following:
Mis-reported incomes: Employees will have to report their total income with their claims. Larger incomes can result in larger compensation amounts, especially in a loss of income or disability scenario. Unfortunately, many employees fail to consider all aspects of their income, like their salary, bonuses, per diems, incentives, reimbursements, stipends, paid housing, and more.
Full medical record releases: While the DBA claims adjuster may need to access some of the employee’s medical records relating to the accident, they don’t need the person’s entire history. Releasing full medical records can harm the claim. For example, if the employee had a past condition that predisposed them to re-injury, the insurer may reduce the claim’s payout.
Information disclosures: When the insurance adjuster makes an initial phone call, many injured employees don’t realize that the organization will record the conversation as an official statement. At this time, people often accidentally underplay injury severity. Instead, employees should avoid answering questions until securing legal representation.
Filing a claim without an attorney is one of the biggest mistakes an injured employee can make. Experienced DBA claim attorneys, such as the team at Grossman Attorneys at Law, know exactly how to prevent costly errors.
Defense Base Act Case Funding
Successful DBA cases result in funding to cover related losses. Injured employees may seek compensation for the following:
- Current and future medical treatments, procedures, and equipment
- Disability benefits
- Vocational rehabilitation
Surviving loved ones of employees who died in a fatal accident may also receive death benefits. Death benefits cover funeral costs of up to $3,000 and a portion of the employee’s weekly wages. Single beneficiaries may receive up to one-half of the employee’s wages, while multiple survivors may receive up to two-thirds of the funds.
How Long Do Defense Base Act Benefits Last?
Defense Act Base benefit payout terms vary, depending on the injury or disability severity. The compensation for medical-related expenses will continue throughout the entire injury duration. For example, if the doctor recommends one year’s worth of procedures, prescriptions, and physical therapy treatments, the employee may continue receiving funds to cover these costs.
Disability benefit terms depend on whether or not the disability is temporary or permanent. Temporarily disabled workers may receive benefits until they can return to work. Permanently disabled employees may continue receiving funds indefinitely.
Death benefits may remain payable for the duration of the spouse or loved one’s life, although a few events may disqualify the beneficiary from receiving the death benefits.
Seek Help From the Experienced DBA Attorneys at Grossman Attorneys at Law
Anyone wondering how much time they have to make a defense base act claim will likely need an attorney to help begin the process. Call Grossman Attorneys at Law, one of the nation’s best Defense Base Act law firms.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury while working overseas on a government contract, be sure to call our team to determine your eligibility for compensation. We will fight for your rights and your financial recovery.
Contact us at Grossman Attorneys at Law in Boca Raton, Florida, to schedule a free consultation with our experienced team. You will incur no costs when you hire our DBA attorneys.