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Defense Base Act FAQ

60+ Years of Experience Achieving Exceptional Results for Workers Injured under the Defense Base Act
What is the Defense Base Act?

The Defense Base Act is a law that was enacted by Congress on August 16, 1941, to extend the coverage of the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, to civilian employees under contract with the United States performing “public works” outside the continental United States.

The law provides reasonable and necessary medical care and compensation to injured workers, and death benefits to dependent survivors of injured workers, of U.S. government contractors who perform work overseas.

We invite you to contact us today if you have a question about your case. Our Experienced Defense Base Act attorneys will inform you of your rights, and fight to make sure you receive the full benefits you deserve.

Am I covered under the Defense Base Act?

You are covered under the Defense Base Act if you fit into one of the following five categories:

1. Employees of private employers on any military, air, or naval base;

2. Employees of any employer upon any lands occupied or used by the United States for military or naval purposes in any Territory or possession outside the continental Untied States;

3. Employees who work on public works contracts overseas, if such employee is engaged in employment at such place under the contract of a contractor or subcontractor with the United States;

4. Employees who work on contracts approved and funded by the U.S. under the Foreign Assistance Act where such contract is to be performed outside of the U.S., which may include cash sale of military equipment, materials, and services to allies of the U.S.;

5. Employees working for an American employer outside the U.S. providing welfare or similar services for the benefit of the Armed Forces, irrespective of the place where the injury or death occurs, and shall include any injury or death occurring to any such employee during transportation to or from his place of employment, where the employer or the U.S. provides the transportation or the cost thereof.

We invite you to contact us today if you have a question about your case. Our Experienced Defense Base Act attorneys will inform you of your rights, and fight to make sure you receive the full benefits you deserve.

What type of work activities are covered under the Defense Base Act?

If you are injured in the course and scope of your employment you are covered. However, even if your injury has nothing to do with your employment, you may still be covered under the Defense Base Act if you are considered to be in a “zone of danger.”

In our opinion, anyone working under a contract with the U.S. anywhere in Iraq or Afghanistan would be covered 24 hours per day due to the “zone of danger” rule.

Case law is very liberal in this regard and has afforded coverage to injured workers for a variety of injuries which had nothing to do with their employment.

If you are uncertain if you are covered, we invite you to contact us to discuss your particular situation.  Our Experienced Defense Base Act attorneys will inform you of your rights, and fight to make sure you receive the full benefits you deserve.

What should I do if I am injured?

The first thing you should do is notify your employer. The law requires you to notify your employer within 30 days of your injury. You should notify your employer and seek medical attention for your injuries.

We invite you to contact us to discuss your particular situation.  Our Experienced Defense Base Act attorneys will inform you of your rights, and fight to make sure you receive the full benefits you deserve.

Am I entitled to treat with a doctor of my own choosing?

Yes. The law provides you with your “first free choice of physician.” This is a very critical part of your case. You should make sure that you choose a qualified doctor who is capable of treating your particular condition and who is a patient advocate.

We can help you choose your first physician as this may become the single most important aspect of your case. We would encourage you not to make that decision without carefully considering how it will impact the rest of your case. Many insurance companies try to make that decision for you, which can be a huge mistake, and may result in you not receiving adequate medical care or full compensation.

We recommend that you not sign any form giving away your right to your choice physician.

We invite you to contact us to discuss your particular situation.  Our Experienced Defense Base Act attorneys will inform you of your rights, and fight to make sure you receive the full benefits you deserve.

What benefits am I entitled to under the Defense Base Act?

You are entitled to compensation for temporary total disability at the rate of two thirds of your average weekly wage, up to the maximum compensation rate (for 2007 that is $1,114.44 per week) for so long as a doctor says you are unable to return to work on a temporary basis. If you are able to return to work with restrictions on a temporary basis, you are entitled to temporary partial disability compensation at two thirds of the difference between your previous average weekly wage and what you are now able to earn.

Once you reach the point of maximum medical improvement, your benefits change from temporary to permanent benefits. At that point, if you have an injury to the head, neck, shoulders, back or spine, you have what is called a “body as a whole” case, and you are eligible for either permanent total or permanent partial disability which may be payable for the remainder of your life. If you do not have an injury that qualifies for “body as a whole” benefits, you are eligible for a “scheduled award” benefit in accordance with a table that allows a certain number of weeks to be paid per the injured body part. For example, the law states that if you were to lose a leg, you would be entitled to 284 weeks of compensation for that injury upon reaching maximum medical improvement. While this does not seem fair, there are arguments which we have successfully made to cause a scheduled award case to become a “body as a whole” case, opening eligibility for permanent partial and/or permanent total disability in some scheduled award situations.

According to the law, you are also entitled to reasonable and necessary medical care for your injuries. You are entitled to treat your injuries with a doctor of your own choosing.

We invite you to contact us to discuss your particular situation.  Our Experienced Defense Base Act attorneys will inform you of your rights, and fight to make sure you receive the full benefits you deserve.

What benefits am I entitled to under the Defense Base Act in case of death of my loved one?

If your loved one dies as a result of an injury on the job, you are entitled to death benefits.

Death benefits are payable at the rate of one half of the employee’s average weekly wage to a surviving spouse or child, or two thirds of the average weekly wage for two or more eligible survivors up the the current maximum rate of $1,114.44 per week.

In order to receive death benefits, you may be required to prove dependency at the time of death. These death benefits may be payable to a spouse for the remainder of the life of the spouse, so long as the spouse does not re-marry. The death benefits to a child may last through college. You are also entitled to funeral expenses up to $3,000.00.

We invite you to contact us to discuss your particular situation.  Our Experienced Defense Base Act attorneys will inform you of your rights, and fight to make sure you receive the full benefits you deserve.

What should I do if am not receiving these benefits and believe that I should be?

If you are not receiving your benefits, you MUST file a claim with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP), Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation, within one year of your injury, or within one year of your last receipt of compensation benefits.

There are eleven district offices throughout the U.S., and you should file your claim in the office responsible for the geographic area where the injury or death occurred.

If you fail to timely file your claim, you may be forever barred from receiving these valuable benefits.

We invite you to contact us to discuss your particular situation.  Our Experienced Defense Base Act attorneys will inform you of your rights, and fight to make sure you receive the full benefits you deserve.

Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to receive these benefits under the Defense Base Act?

No. Aliens and non-U.S. residents are entitled to receive benefits under the Defense Base Act. However, there are some limitations regarding the amount of benefits payable and death benefits.

We invite you to contact us to discuss your particular situation.  Our Experienced Defense Base Act attorneys will inform you of your rights, and fight to make sure you receive the full benefits you deserve.

What should I do if I am injured on the job overseas and I am covered by the Defense Base Act?
  1. You should immediately report your accident to your employer. The law requires you to report your accident within 30 days. There are some exceptions to this, however, the general rule is that you have an obligation to report your accident within 30 days.
  2. You should request medical care from your employer with a doctor of your own choosing. The law requires your employer to furnish medical care for injuries on the job. The law requires your employer to allow you to choose your own doctor.
  3. Keep in mind that if you are working in what is considered to be a zone of special danger, you will be covered 24 hours per day even if you were not performing work related activities. In our opinion, anyone injured in Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria will be covered 24 hours per day for any injuries as a result of the zone of special danger rule.
  4. Contact a qualified Defense Base Act lawyer who understands the complexities of handling this type of case. At Gillis, Mermell & Pacheco, P. A., our lawyers have over 60 years of combined experience handling Defense Base Act cases. We have seen every type of injury; we have handled these cases at every stage of trial; and we have seen every kind of issue imaginable. We know the tricks that the insurance companies play, and we can beat them at their own game.
Does the Defense Base Act cover injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Yes. The defense base at covers civilian employees and/or contractors who are injured while assisting the US military under a contract with the US government in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Kuwait. The Defense Base Act also covers civilian employees injured on any military base outside of the United States. 

What benefits can I get according to the Defense Base Act?

The Defense Base Act extends Longshore benefits to civilian employees injured while working overseas. The types of benefits provided under the Longshore Act, as extended by the Defense Base Act, include compensation for lost wages and reasonable and necessary medical care. Compensation is paid at 2/3 of your average weekly wage for so long as your doctor says that you are unable to work. 

How is my compensation rate determined?

Your compensation rate is calculated at 2/3 of your Average Weekly Wage. Your Average Weekly Wage is a determination of your earning capacity during the 52 weeks prior to your date of accident. We can use your W-2s, paycheck stubs, tax returns and/or your contract of hire to make a calculation of your Average Weekly Wage. If you did not work substantially the whole of the 52 weeks prior to your date of accident, we can calculate your Average Weekly Wage based upon a similar employee or your contract of hire or another alternative method. 

 

Is Your Question Not Listed Here?

If the answer to your question is not included, please call us now at 305-595-3350, or email us at mail@gmpcomplaw.com.  We would be glad to provide you with timely answers!

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Our Law Firm at a Glance

The Law Offices of Gillis, Mermell & Pacheco, P.A., fighting for injured workers under since 1996

success

Over $150,000,000 obtained in benefits and/or settlements for our clients during the past 20 years

DBA mediations

Over 2,000 mediations on behalf of injured workers

3000 DBA claims

Over 3,000 claims of injured workers under the Defense Base Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

60+ years combined DBA law experience

Over 60 years of combined attorney experience in assisting injured workers

3000+ injured workers

Over 2,000 injured workers’ cases

6000+ claims

Over 6,000 claims filed on behalf of injured workers

200+ injured worker trials

Over 200 injured workers’ cases taken to trial

DBA law experience

You can rely upon our experience, knowledge, expertise and commitment to get the job done on your DBA case. We are ready to go to work for you today!

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We devote ourselves to each client with energy and passion. Let us put our years of experience, training, education and knowledge to work for you today.

 

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The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.  You may reproduce materials available at this site for your own personal use and for non-commercial distribution. All copies must include this copyright statement.

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