If you’ve worked in a combat zone or other “hot spot” around the world, you may have been exposed to images that will stick with you for life. Without warning, you may suddenly feel your heart racing as you recall scenes from your time overseas. Maybe fireworks trigger the response. Maybe it’s a certain smell. This phenomenon is known as post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
PTSD can impact private military contractors just as severely as it does active duty military service members. Anyone working and living in war zones can suffer from PTSD. Commonly, military contractors experience PTSD after working on defense bases in those areas.
Our top-rated defense base act attorneys have prepared this guide to PTSD claims under the Defense Base Act to help private military contractors like you understand how to file a claim for compensation and what you can recover. Getting help for your PTSD is possible, and we’ll show you how.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
PTSD is a psychiatric condition brought on after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. Iraq war PTSD symptoms are different for each person. Some people suffering from PTSD experience repetitive, troubling thoughts and feelings about their experience overseas. These thoughts can be triggered by anything, and unfortunately, people may experience them for a long time after they return home.
Symptoms of Iraq War PTSD
Common Iraq war PTSD symptoms include:
- Nightmares about the event or in general,
- Depression and extreme sadness without an exact cause,
- Sensitivity to loud noises,
- Anxiety about performing basic tasks, and
- General feelings of fear and anger.
Some military contractors who developed PTSD in Afghanistan or during the Iraq war may also experience what’s called “dissociation.” This is a feeling of detachment from others and from their own lives.
Another symptom of PTSD that Iraq war contractors may experience is an inability to recall specific details about traumatic events. Sometimes this leads contractors to have distorted thoughts about the traumatic events and even wrongly blame themselves for others’ injuries. Military contractors should know that these are symptoms of PTSD and not anything that they did wrong.
What is the Defense Base Act?
The Defense Base Act protects those who work overseas and in combat zones under U.S. government contracts. It is a federal workers’ compensation program for the civilian, non-federal government workers employed at embassies, military bases, and in combat operations in foreign countries all around the world.
Working with an experienced lawyer as soon as you decide you want to pursue an Iraq war PTSD or Afghanistan PTSD claim can increase your likelihood of success. Our team at Grossman Attorneys at Law has extensive experience with Defense Base Act claims. Our client-focused work ethic in this complex area of the law helps us fight to get the compensation you deserve.
How Does the Defense Base Act Apply to My Iraq War PTSD Claim?
PTSD is an on-the-job injury. Suffering from PTSD may qualify you for benefits and compensation under the Defense Base Act. To receive benefits, however, you’ll need to show that your PTSD symptoms are severe enough to prevent you from working. You’ll also need to demonstrate that you’ve lost income because of your PTSD.
Will the Defense Base Act Apply to Afghanistan PTSD Claims?
Defense Base Act claims are not specific to the combat zone you were contracted into. If you suffer from any PTSD symptoms relating to work you did for the U.S. government in Afghanistan, then you may have a claim. Contact our team at Grossman Attorneys at Law to discuss your options.
How Do I File a PTSD Claim?
You would file a PTSD claim in the same way you’d file any other Defense Base Act claim. Every claim begins with filing a Form LS-201, Notice of Employee’s Death or Injury. Usually, you want to notify your employer or the government of your Iraq PTSD or Afghanistan PTSD claim as soon as possible.
However, PTSD claims can be difficult to prove because so many of the symptoms are emotional. This means that months or even years can elapse between when you were working overseas and when you begin to notice PTSD symptoms.
Sometimes, even after receiving a PTSD diagnosis, contractors may not understand that they qualify for Defense Base Act benefits. But you don’t even have to be a U.S. citizen to qualify for benefits. The Act’s requirement is that you were working on a government contract, on government property, or in certain specific locations around the world. Check with a Defense Base Act lawyer if you’re suffering from PTSD and think you may be eligible for benefits.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Hiring a lawyer who has experience negotiating with insurance companies will help you as you navigate your Defense Base Act claim process. As you begin to get treatment for your PTSD and cope with the debilitating symptoms, having a trusted lawyer by your side can make filing a claim much easier. A Defense Base Act lawyer can also help translate between the legal and the medical aspects of filing your claim.
What Kind of Compensation Can I Get?
Your award will usually be based on what your income was pre-injury and what your income is post-injury. For example, your salary was $100,000 per year before you went to Iraq and subsequently developed PTSD. Now you are able to earn only $50,000 because you need a less stressful job due to your PTSD. You’re probably entitled to compensation to make up part of that difference.
How Grossman Attorneys at Law Can Help
At Grossman Attorneys at Law, we’ve spent years gaining experience in the Defense Base Act. Our team of lawyers has negotiated hundreds, if not thousands, of cases against top insurance companies. We help people like you get compensated fairly for PTSD suffered from your work abroad. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you get back on your feet.