If you are a contractor who has been injured on the job while working overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan or on any military base across the world, your case is covered by the Defense Base Act which is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. At the Law Offices of Gillis, Mermell & Pacheco, P.A., we have a combination of over 43 years of experience in representing injured workers covered by the Defense Base Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Let us put our years of experience and our reputation to work for you today! Contact us today at mail@gmpcomplaw.com, or go on our website at www.dbalawyers.com and fill out our form on the contact us page, or call us at 305 595 3350.

Here are some very interesting facts and case summaries regarding discusses importance of reporting and claim filing in time in a DBA or Longshore case coming directly from the Longshore Deskbook from the Benefits Review Board. The Longshore Desk Book is a searchable website which is a public record. According to the Longshore Deskbook:

Claimant’s attorney is entitled to a fee only upon successful prosecution of a claim. Clophus v. Amoco Production Co., 21 BRBS 261 (1988); Wilhelm v. Seattle Stevedore Co., 15 BRBS 432 (1983); Director, OWCP v. Hemingway Transport, Inc., 1 BRBS 73 (1974). Thus, claimant must establish entitlement to some form of relief in order for his attorney to receive any fee.

 The Act contains two timeliness provisions. Section 12 requires that claimant provide timely notice of injury or death, while Section 13 governs the timely filing of a claim for compensation. These time limitations are mandatory and jurisdictional in nature. See, e.g., Director, OWCP v. National Van Lines Inc., 613 F.2d 972, 11 BRBS 298 (D.C. Cir. 1979); Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co. v. Bowman, 507 F.2d 146 (3d Cir. 1975); Young v. Hoage, 90 F.2d 395 (D.C. Cir. 1937).

 Section 13(a) states that, except as otherwise provided in this section, the right to compensation for disability or death shall be barred unless the claim is filed within one year after the injury or death. This time does not “begin to run until the employee or beneficiary is aware, or by the exercise of reasonable diligence should have been aware, of the relationship between the injury or death and the employment.” 33 U.S.C. §913(a). If voluntary payments have been made, a claim may be filed within one year of the last payment. Section 13(a) also states that the claim must be filed with the deputy commissioner in the compensation district in which the injury or death occurred.

 The 1984 Amendments added Section 13(b)(2), which provides a separate statute of limitations for claims for death or disability due to an occupational disease which does not immediately result in death or disability. Such claims are “timely if filed within two years after the employee or claimant becomes aware, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence or by reason of medical advice should have been aware, of the relationship between the employment, the disease, and the death or disability, or within one year of the date of the last payment of compensation, whichever is later.” 33 U.S.C. §913(b)(2). Section 13(b)(2) was made applicable to claims pending on appeal on the date of enactment.

 Section 13(b)(2) explicitly requires “awareness” of the relationship between the disease, employment and death or disability. Thus, in an occupational disease claim, the filing period does not begin to run until the employee is deceased or disabled, or in the case of a retired employee, until a permanent impairment exists. 20 C.F.R. §702.222(c). In traumatic injury cases, where the statute requires “awareness” of the relationship between the injury or death and employment, the courts have held that an employee is not aware of an “injury” until he is aware of work-related impairment resulting in a likely impairment of earning capacity. See Paducah Marine Ways v. Thompson, 82 F.3d 130, 30 BRBS 33(CRT) (6th Cir. 1996); Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Ry. Co. v. Director, OWCP, 43 F.3d 1206 (8th Cir. 1994); Abel v. Director, OWCP, 932 F.2d 819, 24 BRBS 130(CRT) (9th Cir. 1991); Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co. v. Parker, 935 F.2d 20, 24 BRBS 98(CRT) (4th Cir. 1991); Brown v. I.T.T./Continental Baking Co., 921 F.2d 289, 24 BRBS 75(CRT) (D.C. Cir. 1990); Brown v. Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc., 893 F.2d 294, 23 BRBS 22(CRT) (11th Cir. 1990). The determination of the date of “awareness” is discussed in detail, infra.

If you have a question about the timeliness of your claim or any other question in your DBA or Longshore case, Contact Us today at mail@gmpcomplaw.com, or go on our website at www.dbalawyers.com and fill out our form on the contact us page, or call us at 305 595 3350.

Clifford R. Mermell, Esq.

Clifford R. Mermell, Esq., created the law firm of Gillis, Mermell & Pacheco, P.A. on March 1, 1996. Mr. Mermell has been the senior and managing partner of the firm since its creation. The firm was created to champion the rights of injured workers nationwide. It represents cases under the Worker’s Compensation, Wrongful Termination, Personal Injury, Admiralty and Maritime, Defense Base Act, and Longshore & Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act Laws.


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