Defense Base Act Lawyers discuss statute of limitations in a Defense Base Act case

At the Law Offices of Gillis, Mermell & Pacheco, P.A., our qualified defense base act lawyers 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, or go on our website at and fill out our form on the contact us page, or call us at 305 595 3350.
Our experenced Defense Base Act Lawyers are here to help you with any questions you have regarding your DBA case. Here are some very interesting facts and case summaries regarding the statute of limitations in a DBA or Longshore case coming directly from the Judge’s Benchbook from the Office of Administrative Law Judges. Let our experienced Defense Base Act Attorneys answer your questions. The Judge’s Benchbook is a searchable website which is a public record. According to the Judge’s Benchbook:

Section 13(a) states that, except as otherwise provided in the section, the right to compensation for disability or death shall be barred unless the claim is filed within one year from the time the claimant or the beneficiary becomes aware, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have been aware, of the relationship between the injury or death and the employment.
If voluntary payments have been made, a claim may be filed within one year of the last payment. The time for filing a claim does not begin to run until the employer/claimant is aware, or by the exercise of reasonable diligence should have been aware, of the relationship between the injury/death and the employment. See Spear v. General Dynamics Corp., 25 BRBS 254 (1991) (claimant’s date of awareness in 1980 cannot be utilized as his date of awareness of his increased hearing loss as evidenced by the 1986 audiogram); Spear v. General Dynamics Corp., 25 BRBS 132 (1991) (claim not barred under Section 13 where employer which had actual knowledge of injury did not file a first report of injury until five months after claimant filed for benefits under the LHWCA); Madrid v. Coast Marine Constr. Co., 22 BRBS 148 (1989) (claimant’s failure to take any further action during the three years following his timely modification request did not constitute an abandonment of the modification claim; since claimant filed no written request with the deputy commissioner to withdraw his claim and the claim was never adjudicated, it remained open and pending).
In Ceres Gulf, Inc. v. Director, OWCP, 111 F.3d 17, 31 BRBS 21 (CRT) (5th Cir. 1997), the Fifth Circuit reversed both the ALJ and the Board’s determination that the claimant had filed a timely claim pursuant to Section 13(a). The evidence was undisputed that the claimant suffered a work-related injury on June 10, 1988. The claimant filed his claim for benefits under the LHWCA Act on June 27, 1991, alleging that certain neurological problems had resulted from his 1988 work injury. The claimant argued that he had originally filed a claim for his injury on March 21, 1989, but no record of that filing existed. The ALJ found that the claimant failed to carry his burden proving that he filed a claim with OWCP by June 1989. Alternatively, the claimant argued that he did not become aware of his injury until he received a doctor’s report on July 20, 1990. Therefore, the claimant argued, and the ALJ agreed, that the claimant had until July 1991 to file his claim. The Fifth Circuit, in reversing the ALJ and the Board, noted that the claimant had made it clear in his LS-203 that the work-injury in June 1988 caused him a “head injury” and a “cerebellar infarction.” The ALJ had focused on the fact that the claimant had a limited education, was illiterate, and had suffered severe head trauma. The Fifth Circuit reasoned that it did not need to make a determination regarding whether a reasonable man of the claimant’s abilities would have known of a causal link between the work accident and the injury because the claimant presented evidence that he actually had knowledge of such a relationship. See id. at 20.

If you are a contractor who has been injured on the job while working overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Syria 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.  If you have a question about the statute of limitations or any other question in your DBA or Longshore case, contact our qualified defense base act attorneys today at, or go on our website at 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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