When you are injured as an overseas civilian contractor your first thought might be on how to get better. Your second thought might be how you are going to work and continue to provide for your family and yourself. These are two overwhelming thoughts, so let's break them down and start off strong on a path to recovery and financial compensation for your injury.
The first step is finding out if you are covered by the Defense Base Act (DBA). The second step is filing your DBA claim and building up your DBA case. This is where we come in to help.
Here are our top 10 tips on building your DBA Case:
1. Report your injury immediately.
The best thing you can do to help your case is to report your injury to someone who ranks higher than you at your company as soon as possible. If this is a verbal interaction, email or letter, make sure to make copies or record the interaction so you can have proper documentation of the injury report.
2. Don’t give a recorded statement.
Spoken and written statements are only used to deny an injury claim. The same goes for medical or employment releases. If an insurance adjuster tells you he needs your statement or signed release before he can provide you with medical treatment or weekly compensation benefits, don’t do it. Call your DBA lawyer instead.
3. Choose your doctor wisely.
You get one free choice physician under the DBA, so use it to your advantage. Explain the specifics of your job to your doctor, making sure he understands the rigors of Defense Base Act employment. Never choose a doctor suggested by the DBA insurance adjuster.
4. Say “No” to the nurse case manager.
Don’t allow the insurance company’s nurse case manager to go into the examination room with your doctor. The nurse case manager’s job is to save the insurance company money, so politely ask him or her to wait in the waiting room.
When Your Claim Is Denied/In Dispute:
If your DBA claim is being denied or disputed by the insurance company then you need to tread carefully. Stay honest and be careful with what you say to anyone and everyone involved with your DBA injury. The DBA insurance companies are waiting for you to make a mistake, don’t fall into their traps.
5. Keep it short with the insurance adjuster.
Remember: the insurance adjuster is not your friend. They are trying to save the DBA insurance company money. Anything you say can and will be used against you, so keep your interactions polite but short.
6. Collect evidence.
Your compensation rate is based on your earnings, so make sure to document all of your wages, bonuses, and all of your pay stubs and W-2s. “Just enough” evidence isn’t enough to win your DBA case. Laziness won’t get you far here.
7. Document medical treatment.
Keep records of all medical treatment you received, both in the U.S. and overseas. Get copies of all your overseas medical records before you return to the United States.
8. Gather witnesses.
Before you leave for the U.S., make sure you have contact information of any witnesses who saw your accident happen. This mostly includes nurses, doctors, co-workers, your boss, your friends, anyone that was present at the time of your injury.
When You’re Taking Your Case to Court:
9. Hire the right attorney.
DO NOT hire a lawyer suggested to you by the DBA adjuster or nurse case manager. I mean we’ve already been over the fact that he/she is not your friend, so why take their legal advice.
DO NOT hire a local workers’ comp lawyer either. I see this all the time. You think it’s going to be easier because they are right by where you live. You know them, you can trust them and they’re so convenient.
But chances are that this local lawyer isn’t going to know much about the DBA law system or how it is drastically different from typical workers’ comp cases. You need an expert attorney who know the ins and outs of the DBA law system. Don’t fall for another DBA trap and hire a novice to fight for you and your rights.
10. Always tell the truth.
Look, I know what you’re thinking. You’re an honest guy/ gal. You know how to tell the truth and you wouldn’t dream of trying to win your DBA case dishonestly. But the thing is with DBA claims, things can get messy and convoluted it’s easy to get lost in the details of your own DBA case.
The insurance companies know that good credibility wins DBA cases. So, they will do whatever they can to make you look like a liar in front of the judge. Be one step ahead and stay completely honest, don’t fall for their tricks.
Don’t lose your case by fudging the facts. Tell the truth about any previous injuries or potential involvement you had in the accident.
Following these tips will put you one step closer to your entitled financial and medical benefits under the Defense Base Act. For more tips on how to beat the DBA insurance company and their lawyers and how to win your DBA case check out my book, Win Your Defense Base Act.