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Defense Base Act Death Claims: A Case Study of a DBA Driver In Afghanistan That Suffered a Fatal Heart Attack

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Defense Base Act Death Benefits I DBA Death Benefits I DBA Death Claims    

My Best Advice

Before I get into a very serious subject, there are a few things I would like you to know: Nothing is more important when handling your case, then speaking the truth. People who believe if they sugarcoat their case, it will help them win their case. Wrong.

You have to be up-front, honest, and truthful to your attorney and the judge. If a judge suspects you’re not telling the truth, you can say goodbye to your case. Count on it. I have seen it time and time again.

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Defense Base Act Death Claims: A Case Study of a Driver That Suffered a Fatal Heart Attack in Afghanistan

The Defense Base Act provides for death benefits to certain survivors if the injury causes death. In determining whether an injury and/or death is work-related, a claimant is aided by the DBA Presumption of Compensability.

The DBA Presumption may be invoked only after the claimant establishes a prima facie case, i.e., the claimant demonstrates that the decedent suffered a harm and that an accident occurred, or conditions existed, at work which could have caused that harm.

In order for the claimant to establish a prima facie case, and thus entitlement to invocation of the Defense Base Act Presumption, the claimant is not required to introduce affirmative medical evidence that the working conditions in fact caused, contributed to or accelerated the decedent’s disability and death; rather, the claimant must show only the existence of working conditions which could have caused or contributed to decedent’s disability and death.

In order to invoke the presumption, “a claimant must offer ‘some evidence’ of [an injury and working conditions].”

In a recent case, the Claimant’s doctor  stated: “[F]rom available information, I consider that this patient’s cardiomyopathy was more than likely than not the result of a viral myocarditis which the patient contracted in December 2006 when he was working as a driver for [employer] in Afghanistan…”

Once a claimant establishes a prima facie case, The DBA Presumption applies to relate the disability and death to the employment, and employer can rebut this presumption by producing substantial evidence that the decedent’s disability and death were not related to the employment. In this case, the Claimant’s heart condition was found to be related to the DBA employment and was therefor compensable under the Defense Base Act.

Defense Base Act Death Benefits Explained

Under the Defense Base Act, Death Benefits are paid to a widow or widower or other eligible survivors if the DBA injury causes the employee's death. In addition, the DBA provides funeral expenses, up to a maximum of $3,000.

Widow Benefits

The widow or widower receives 50% of the average weekly wage of the deceased DBA employee for life or until remarriage.

What happens if I remarry?

Upon remarriage, a widow or widower receives a lump sum payment of compensation covering two years.

Children’s Benefits

Additional compensation is payable - 16 2/3% of the employee's average weekly wage - for one or more children.

If children are the sole survivors, 50% of the employee's average weekly wage is paid on behalf of the first child. Where more than one child is entitled to benefits, a maximum of 66 2/3% applies, shared equally.

Benefit payments to children, brothers, sisters, and grandchildren terminate when they reach 18, but may be extended to age 23 if the child or beneficiary is a student.


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Disclaimer: Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, endorsement and/or discussion does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation and/or this particular case/ situation. Thanks, Bill Turley

William Turley
“When I seek out professional advice, I don’t want B.S., I want it straight up. I figure you do also.”

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