If you or a loved one was injured while working overseas for a military contractor, you might be entitled to compensation through the Defense Base Act. Grossman Attorneys at Law is a law firm focused entirely on injury law, and we have the experience to help you pursue compensation. 

Whether you suffered a debilitating injury on a military base or have been diagnosed with an illness connected to your overseas employment, you can rely on our attorneys to handle your claim, allowing you to focus on treatment and rehabilitation. Contact us today for a free case review.

What Is the Defense Base Act?

The U.S. Workers’ Compensation Program helps American employees claim compensation after an injury in the workplace. This federal program includes the Defense Base Act, which is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Division. 

The Defense Base Act (DBA) provides compensation protection for civilians working overseas for the U.S. government for non-military or military purposes. If an employee of a government contractor or subcontractor sustains an injury in the course of their overseas work or arising from it, they may be entitled to compensation through the DBA.

The Defense Base Act compensates injured employees with medical and disability benefits if the sustained injury causes an inability to return to work. It also compensates surviving dependents with death benefits if employees die in a situation related to their employment.

How Was the Defense Base Act Created?

Before the U.S. Congress enacted the Defense Base Act in 1941, military contractor employees working overseas lacked compensation protection. This disability coverage gap became clear to the federal government as American civilian contractors injured in the war effort struggled to obtain medical benefits. Neither coverage for active military members nor stateside workers’ compensation provided compensation for civilian government workers.

The Defense Base Act solved this coverage issue and supported the immense increase in military contractors that followed World War II. 

What Do Defense Base Act Claims Cover?

Defense Base Act claims provide the following coverage benefits to eligible workers:

Medical Benefits

Defense Base Act compensation covers medical care expenses, including the costs of hospital stays, surgeries, medical transportation, and other medical services. DBA medical benefits can cover medical treatment for as long as necessary. 

Disability Benefits

The DBA provides disability coverage if the injured employee cannot return to work. The employee may receive temporary or permanent benefits in total or partial amounts. The amount paid for permanent disability coverage depends on the employee’s wage loss and the extent of their injuries. 

Employees who qualify for permanent total disability coverage receive a maximum of around $1,200 per month, with annual rate adjustments to account for the cost of living. 

Death Benefits

In the event of an employee’s death, DBA insurance coverage compensates surviving family members. Death benefits cover burial costs and household income loss. Like permanent total disability, death benefits are subject to annual adjustments. 

Additional Coverages

In addition to medical, disability, and death benefits, the DBA provides compensation in the event of:

  • Kidnapping
  • Ransom
  • Extortion
  • Accidental dismemberment
  • General liability lawsuit
  • Business transportation accident
  • Traumatic stress disorder

Injured employees may also be eligible for vocational rehabilitation coverage if they have a permanent disability and live in the United States 

What Occupations Are Covered Under the Defense Base Act?

The Defense Base Act provides benefits for employees of government contractors and subcontractors working on military bases or for other government entities, including:

  • Employees of private employers on U.S. bases or lands used for U.S. military purposes
  • Government agency employees working overseas on public works and service contracts connected to war activities or national defense
  • Employees of overseas Foreign Assistance Act contracts, often related to the cash sale of military supplies and services to U.S. allies
  • Employees of American employers working overseas to provide U.S. military members with welfare and related services

Examples of the last category include employees of the American Red Cross and United Services Organizations (USO).

Defense Base Act Requirements 

Employers under the Defense Base Act must secure DBA insurance for their employees. The insurance may come from an insurance carrier or self-insurance authorized by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP).

The Defense Base Act requires an employer to report an employee’s injury to their DBA insurance carrier immediately after learning of it. They must file several forms to initiate a benefits claim for the employee. 

An employer that fails to secure compensation payment according to the Defense Base Act may be sued by the injured employee or their surviving loved ones

Defense Base Act Rules

In the event of a lawsuit following an employer’s failure to meet DBA requirements, the employer cannot use the following arguments in their defense:

  • A fellow servant’s negligence caused the injury
  • The employee understood the risks of their employment
  • The employee’s negligence contributed to the injury

Failure to secure payment of compensation under the Defense Base Act is a misdemeanor charge punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and incarceration for up to one year. 

Defense Base Act Forms

Employers must submit specific forms within predetermined time frames to comply with the Defense Base Act. If the injury causes the employee to miss work for one or more shifts, employers must file Form LS-202, the First Report of Injury, within 10 days of an injury. Employers may file this form electronically, by fax, or by mail. 

After the employer files Form LS-202, the injured employee receives compensation for medical treatment. To secure disability benefits, the injured employee must file Form LS-203, the Employee’s Claim for Compensation, within one year of the injury date or last compensation payment date (whichever is later). 

Let Us Help You Claim Your Defense Base Act Compensation

If you or a loved one was injured while working a government contract overseas, our team at Grossman Attorneys at Law wants to help. When you call us for Defense Base Act compensation, you’ll receive personalized service from a highly experienced team of lawyers and paralegals. Our law firm will represent you at no cost to you, so don’t hesitate to schedule your free case review today. 

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