The Defense Base Act (DBA) is a United States law providing workers’ compensation benefits and other protections to injured employees working outside the continental United States. There are many jobs both a United States citizen and a foreign citizen may perform in support of the armed forces while covered under the DBA.

Civilian contractors may work on United States military bases for military purposes or as military contractor employees. Additionally, they may work under contracts approved by the United States government under the Foreign Assistance Act, providing for cash sale of military equipment, materials, and services to its allies.

Contact an experienced DBA lawyer if you are a foreign citizen who was injured while working for a U.S. government agency. With 30 years of experience, Grossman Attorneys at Law can help you get the compensation you deserve!

Does The Defense Base Act Cover Foreign Citizens?

Yes. The Defense Base Act covers foreign nationals employed by American companies overseas, providing medical and financial assistance to those working for government contractors in foreign countries. This includes local and third-country foreign nationals and their families. However, to be eligible for Defense Base Act coverage, the Department of Labor (DOL) requires foreign citizens to meet specific regulations. Generally, the DBA can cover any foreign national employees working outside their home country on behalf of a U.S. government contractor or subcontractor.

Are Defense Base Act Benefits Available To All Foreign Nationals?

DBA benefits are available to foreign citizens, or local hires, who meet specific eligibility criteria. The primary requirement for eligibility is being employed by a company that holds a valid contract with the U.S. government. However, Defense Base Act coverage is often not available to employees who have coverage under the Federal Employees Compensation Act. Additionally, certain types of employees may require a waiver from the U.S. government in order to be covered by the DBA, such as employees of an international organization.

Once eligibility has been established, foreign citizens can receive benefits under the DBA, some of which might include:

  • Medical care and disability payments: Foreign nationals working for American employers who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses are entitled to medical care and disability payments. The DBA ensures that these individuals receive appropriate medical treatment and compensation for any disability resulting from their work.
  • Death benefits for surviving dependents: Benefits are also provided for employees killed on the job. The DBA provides death benefits to the surviving spouse of the third-country nationals. These benefits offer financial support to the deceased’s family members, helping them cope with the loss of their loved one.
  • Legal representation for DBA claims: Host country nationals employed by U.S. government contractors may sometimes face challenges when pursuing their claims against employers who fail to provide proper coverage or benefits. The DBA ensures they have access to legal assistance to help them navigate the complex process of filing a claim and obtaining the benefits they are entitled to.
  • Additional compensation: Depending on the specific situation and circumstances of the foreign employee, they may also be entitled to additional compensation. This could include wage replacement, vocational rehabilitation services, and other financial support, ensuring they receive fair compensation for work-related injuries or illnesses.

By understanding their rights and the available benefits under the DBA and workers’ compensation programs, foreign citizens can ensure they receive proper care, compensation, and support when faced with certain circumstances and work-related injuries.

What Foreign Countries Are Subject To A DBA Waiver?

Certain foreign countries are subject to DBA waivers, exempting employers operating in these countries from providing DBA insurance to their employees. If the country has alternate workers’ compensation coverage under applicable local law and its government contract agrees to reciprocal arrangements with the United States, they do not have to provide DBA coverage. 

Countries with Defense Base Act waivers include: 

  • Israel
  • Germany
  • South Korea
  • Japan
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Kuwait

Employers in these countries must still comply with local labor laws, regulations, and applicable visa requirements for non-U.S. citizen employees.

Are There Any Differences In How DBA Claims Are Handled For Foreign Citizens Compared To U.S. Citizens?

The Defense Base Act claims process for foreign citizens does indeed have some differences compared to the process for U.S. citizens. Understanding these differences is crucial for foreign nationals to ensure they effectively pursue their claims and receive the benefits they deserve. 

Key distinctions in the handling of DBA claims for foreign citizens compared to U.S. citizens include:

  • Different provisions: Foreign citizens filing DBA claims are subject to varying provisions than U.S. citizens. While foreign employees who are injured or killed abroad may receive death, medical, and other benefits under the DBA, they will not be subject to the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) provisions. As a result, they will not receive workers’ compensation benefits as provided under this act.
  • Eligibility criteria: Foreign citizens must meet specific criteria to qualify for DBA benefits, such as being employed by contractors engaged in activities related to U.S. national defense or security overseas. 
  • Documentation requirements: Foreign citizens may need to provide additional documentation when filing a Defense Base Act claim, such as proof of their legal status in the country where they were injured or killed. Ensuring all necessary documents are submitted with the claim can help avoid delays or denials.

Foreign citizens should be aware of the differences in the handling of DBA claims compared to U.S. citizens. Foreign nationals can more effectively navigate the claims process by understanding their rights and responsibilities and the unique challenges they may face.

Common Issues That Foreign Citizens Face When Filing A DBA Claim

Due to the program’s complexities, foreign citizens employed under the DBA may face difficulties filing a claim. 

Two critical issues for foreign citizens when filing a DBA claim are:

  • Language barriers: Foreign citizens may face language barriers when navigating the DBA claims process, which can be complex and challenging even for native English speakers. Accessing resources and assistance in their native language can be crucial for foreign nationals to understand their rights and effectively pursue their claims.
  • Cultural considerations: Cultural differences may affect how foreign citizens approach and navigate the DBA claims process. For instance, some foreign nationals may be hesitant to assert their rights or may not fully understand the concept of workers’ compensation. 

An insurance carrier will often deny claims from local nationals because they lack a complete understanding of their Defense Base Act insurance coverage and the medical benefits it provides. If a foreign citizen is injured while working under the Longshore Act or DBA, it is advisable to seek the assistance of a Defense Base Act lawyer. This legal professional can help protect their rights and secure the compensation they deserve.

How Our DBA Attorneys Can Help Foreign Citizens With Their Claims

At Grossman Attorneys at Law, our experienced Defense Base Act attorneys help foreign citizens navigate the complex process of making a successful claim. We understand the unique challenges non-United States citizens face and are committed to providing them with the best possible representation. Call today!

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