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Are Injured Relief Workers in Japan Covered by the Defense Base Act?

Tsunami Relief under the Defense Base Act

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You probably didn’t think much about your workers’ compensation coverage before you joined the relief effort to Japan. So many people were missing and displaced by the earthquake and tsunami that you were thinking about their needs, rather than your own. But now you’re suffering symptoms of radiation exposure—something that could only have during your employment abroad. Is there similar government relief for workers who were injured trying to help others?

Which Workers Are Covered By the Defense Base Act?

Whether you suffered an injury as part of the 2011 relief effort or during other U.S. government business in Japan, the Defense Base Act (DBA) should provide for the costs of your medical care. Here is a short overview of who may be entitled to the worker’s compensation benefits of the DBA:

  • All workers under contract with a U.S. government agency. This may include construction projects, service contracts, and any contracts approved and funded by the U.S. under the Foreign Assistance Act.
  • Foreign employees. Americans are not the only workers who qualify to receive DBA benefits. Any host country nationals and even third-country nationals who are engaged in employment with a U.S. government agency are covered under the DBA, regardless of nationality.
  • Workers at any employment level. Workers who are employed by a sub-contractor or subordinate contractor will also be covered by the DBA. Any contractor who does not ensure that the workforce of a sub-contractor has proper worker’s compensation insurance can be held liable for the costs of his sub-contractor’s staff injuries.

What Kinds of Illnesses Are Covered Under DBA?

In addition to bodily injury caused by accidents, the Defense Base Act covers any occupational diseases, illnesses, or infections suffered as a result of on-the-job exposure. In cases where workers have suffered an injury or illness that has been linked to radiation exposure, the illness should be covered under the DBA even if the diagnosis was not made until years after the exposure took place.

If you suffered an exposure injury while working in Japan, you should apply for Defense Act Benefits as soon as you have a confirmed medical diagnosis. You will have to provide proof of employment under a U.S. government contract, as well as documentation showing that your injury likely occurred on the job. To get help with your DBA claim, read through a copy of our free guide: Win Your Defense Base Act Case: The Ultimate Straight Talk Roadmap to The Medical Treatment and Money You and Your Family Deserve.

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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