Aggravation injuries can be a complex aspect of workers’ compensation programs, particularly in Defense Base Act (DBA) claims. By understanding these concepts, you can be better prepared to receive the compensation you deserve.

What Is An Aggravation Injury?

An aggravation injury is when an employee suffers a new injury or experiences a worsening of a pre-existing medical condition as a result of work-related activities.

Common examples of aggravation injuries include:

  • Knee injuries
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Injuries that worsen over time due to the nature of the job

In the context of a Defense Base Act claim, an aggravation injury must be sustained by employees working for a U.S. employer overseas or in other locations covered by the DBA.

Does The Defense Base Act Cover Aggravation Injuries?

The Defense Base Act is a federal law designed to provide workers’ compensation benefits to civilian employees working on military bases or on projects funded by the U.S. government. The DBA is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (Longshore Act), providing similar protections to injured workers. 

The Defense Base Act covers an aggravation injury if it is sustained in the course of employment and can be directly linked to the employee’s job duties. For example: If a civilian contractor is in a car accident while on the job and injures his shoulder, he is entitled to DBA benefits, even if there was an initial injury to the shoulder in a non-work-related incident. The insurance company must cover the entire disability due to the causation of the worsened injury being work-related. Unless a Defense Base Act waiver is in place, the insurance carrier is responsible for damages.

How Can Pre-Existing Conditions Affect Your Workers’ Compensation Claim?

When an employee with a pre-existing medical condition suffers an aggravation injury, it can complicate their Defense Base Act claims. Insurance carriers may argue that the claimant’s disability, whether a permanent disability or a temporary total disability, is not related to the injuries sustained on the job but rather a result of the pre-existing condition. In such cases, gathering medical records and other evidence demonstrating the connection between work-related activities and the aggravation injury is crucial.

To successfully pursue a DBA claim, government contractors should seek immediate medical treatment for their injuries and ensure that their medical care providers are aware of the work-related nature of the injury. This information will be vital in establishing a causal relationship between the job duties and the aggravated condition. Additionally, working with a knowledgeable Defense Base Act lawyer who can help navigate the complex process and advocate on your behalf is essential.

Receive The Compensation You Deserve

If you are successful in proving the causal relationship between your employment and your aggravation injury, you may be entitled to DBA medical benefits and compensation, which can include compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses related to your injury. In some cases, an administrative law judge may be required to determine the extent of the claimant’s disability and the appropriate compensation.

Insurance carriers may attempt to minimize their liability by disputing the employee’s claim or offering a low settlement. Having an experienced attorney on your side can make a significant difference in these situations. In many cases, attorney fees are paid by the insurance carrier, making legal representation accessible to an injured worker.

An aggravation injury can be challenging, particularly when pre-existing medical conditions are involved. Understanding your rights, seeking the appropriate medical attention, and working with a skilled attorney can increase your chances of receiving the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. Call Grossman Attorneys at Law today to get your free consultation!

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