Top 5 Most Common Defense Base Act Questions Answered:
1. What is the Defense Base Act?
2. What does “Injury” mean?
3. When can I get if I file my DBA claim, Disability?
4. When do I get if I file my DBA claim, Disability?
5. What is the biggest myth about the Defense Bast Act and how do I get help my process?
My name is Bill Turley and before I answer these Top 5 Common Questions, I want you to know some things. I can tell you that it's my understanding that I have the largest DBA law firm on the West Coast and one of the top three largest Defense Base Act law firms in the world. If you are injured in-theater / in-country as a private overseas military contractor the Defence Base Act applies to you.
What you are going to see is that you have just traded one war for a whole new different war. Make no mistake about it - once you are seriously injured while overseas - you are at war with the insurance company. What I don't want to see is you making a potentially case-ending mistake by falling for one of the insurance companies tricks or traps.
Avoiding the insurance company tricks and traps
I take pride in providing military contractors just like you the crucial information and resources you need to insure you are not taken advantage of or left up a creek without a paddle. My mission is to help keep you from falling for one of the insurance company's tricks or traps.
Beileve it or not, I don't believe in sugar coating things. Everything you hear from me is straight-up information you need to know so that you can protect the well being of both you and your family.
It's all in my well reviewed (and free to you) book - Win Your Defense Base Act Case
Below you will find the answers with direct page references to where you can find more in depth information about the topics within my book Win Your Defense Base Act Case, which you can get shipped to you abolutely free. Read the great 5 Star reviews at amazon.com.
I am tired of seeing people get taken advantage of by the insuranace companies when they are injured overseas simply because they are unaware of the process of the Defense Base Act or the tricks the insurance company attorneys use to trip you up!
It's my goal to help YOU know what is coming so you are NOT one of the folks that fall victom to their all to real games.
And now lets answer those questions:
Answers to the 5 Most Common Questions regarding the Defense Base Act
1. What is the Defense Base Act?
The Defense Base Act initially applied to persons working on American military bases abroad. The DBA was then broadened to cover most federal contractors working outside of the United States.
The Defense Base Act provides benefits to employees working for defense contractors outside the continental United States. In recent years, there have been thousands of Defense Base Act workers seriously injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
If you are an employee of a civilian contractor injured while working under a U.S. Government contract in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, or anywhere in the world, your claim possibly falls under the DBA. Civilian employees of contractors that support military and State Department operations worldwide usually fall under the Defense Base Act. The Defense Base Act is a federal workers compensation program for the employees of these civilian contractors.
The DBA requires that federal government contractors and subcontractors provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees who work outside of the United States. The DBA also covers both United States citizens and foreign nationals.
Basically all types of service contracts are covered under the DBA. Workers that work for contractors performing service contracts, even those, which do not directly provide for construction, alteration, removal or repair are included in the definition of public work.
And unlike other workers’ compensation programs, under the DBA, an injury is covered by the Defense Base Act even if your injury didn’t happen while you were actually working.
* For more in-depth information on what the Defense Base Act is Check out pages 12-16 of the "Win Your Defense Base Act Case” book.
2. What does “Injury” mean?
To be entitled to benefits under the Defense Base Act, you must have sustained an injury within the meaning of the Act. And your disability must have resulted from the injury.
The term “injury” means accidental injury or death arising out of, and in the course of, employment. Injuries covered under the Defense Base Act include:
- Tripping and falling on steps and hurting your back
- Automobile collisions causing injuries
- Getting hurt while ducking for cover while under enemy fire
- Injured by IED explosions
- Breaking your ankle playing basketball
- Getting injured playing soccer
- Falling our of your bunk and injuring yourself
If you get hurt in country / in theater then you are most likely covered under the Defense Base Act.
More specifically, if you feel pain or discomfort - - that is probably an injury under the DBA.
Let’s say you are overseas and while lifting a box you feel something strange in your back - - you just suffered a DBA injury. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that. If something goes wrong in your body - you have suffered a DBA injury. Whether you are entitled to weekly benefits or medical treatment are different issues under the law.
* For more specific information on what an “Injury” means check out pages 55-61 of “Win Your DBA Case” book.
3. When can I get if I file my DBA claim?
One thing you should know about the Defense Base Act is DBA claims are exceedingly slow. This is mainly because Defense Base Act claims fall under the Longshore Act. In many ways the system is broken. The system simply wasn’t ready for thousands of seriously injured Defense Base Act workers coming home from Iraq, Afghanistan and other places around the world. In the simplest terms - there are way too many claims and not enough Judges.
Because of this, you need to make sure your DBA claim stays on track. In order to do this, you - or more importantly your Defense Base Act Lawyer - need to understand where your claim is and what steps are necessary in order to first get your case to trial and then win your DBA trial.
Under the DBA, there are four different and distinct categories of disabilities:
1. Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
2. Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
3. Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
4. Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)
Temporary Total Disability (TTD) You are entitled to Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits if you are unable to perform your usual and customary DBA employment and your doctor has not declared you have reached maximum medical improvement. Stated in its simplest terms, if you can’t work and your doctor hasn’t released you yet you should be getting a workers’ compensation check (a TTD check) during that time period.
How Much Weekly TTD should I be getting?
You are entitled to 2/3’s of your average weekly wage (AWW) up to the maximum weekly compensation rate. For example the maximum compensation rate for injuries occurring between 10/01/2013 and 09/30/2014 is $1,346.68. If you were injured between 10/1/2014 and 9/20/2015 the maximum compensation is **. If you were injured from 10/1/2015 and 09/20/2016 the maximum compensation rate is ***.
What if I am not getting paid Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits by the DBA insurance company?
First off, you need to understand that the DBA insurance companies deny claims left and right when the Claimant has all the necessary documentation. But oftentimes, the reason why the DBA insurance company is denying benefits is because there is not proper documentation.
You are going to need your doctor to write a report (it can be in handwriting) that says you were injured due to your DBA employment (meaning while you were overseas) and you are currently unable to work (or do your customary DBA employment) due to your injuries.
Here it is important for your doctor to understand your work. Being able to work a desk job or even at Wal-Mart is far different from wearing body armor and having to run for a shelter in the middle of the night.
It is time to do something
If the DBA insurance company is not providing you with weekly compensation benefits (i.e. a workers’ compensation check), then the insurance company will usually file an LS- 207 - Notice of Controversion with the US Department of Labor and you will be sent a copy. If the DBA insurance company has sent you an LS-207 - Notice of Controversion, you need to make sure you read it and get the documentation necessary to overcome the reasons why the DBA insurance company is denying your claim.
This is no time to dilly-dally. You need to get the evidence needed to win your case. Meaning, a doctor’s report (see Part X Medical Benefits). Second, you need to immediately request an Emergency Informal Conference. Then you must have Recommendations issued by the OWCP claims examiner. Then you must file a LS-18 in order to get a trial scheduled.
This is a “get in line and wait” system. The quicker you get your case to the Judge’s office and start waiting in line for your trial and then your Decision and Order, the quicker you will get your TTD benefits. Sometimes once you get the necessary documentation (i.e., a medical report), the DBA insurance carrier will start providing you with weekly compensation benefits. Oftentimes, the threat of a trial will get the DBA insurance company to provide benefits or settle cases.
If this has happened to you, right about now would be a good time for you hire the best DBA lawyer you can find. Hey, know this - hiring a DBA lawyer doesn’t have to be painful or stressful - and it shouldn’t be.
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
Under the DBA, if you are temporarily unable to perform your usual and customary work, the DBA insurance carrier is supposed to pay you 2/3’s of your average weekly wage up to the maximum compensation rate.
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) comes into play mainly under a rare circumstance. If your employer has work for you that pays less than your regular pay - than you may be entitled to the difference between the less pay you get for the “light duty” work and your compensation rate. The reason why this is rare under the DBA is that you will usually have to come home (for example, the United States) to get medical treatment. Your DBA employer will usually not have work for you do to in your home State. This is why TPD under these circumstances is relatively rare.
* For more detailed information on disability under the DBA check out pages 123-157 in the “Win Your DBA Case” book.
4. What if I don’t have an incident report?
When speaking to a Defense Base Act client, one of the first things I ask to see is any incident reports/ injury reports. And, one of the first things the DBA insurance company asks to see is any incident reports/ injury reports. Obviously an incident report goes a long way to documenting your injury.
That is why we both ask to see it. At some point, your DBA Lawyer will either be settling your case or presenting it to the Judge. The more documentation you have which corroborates your injury incident, the better.
But what if you don’t have an incident/ injury report? What if your supervisor refused to fill one out? Or maybe you didn’t realize you were as badly hurt as you turned out to be and you just didn’t get an accident report filled out? What then?
Report your injury
Whatever the circumstances, 99% of the time you should report your injury as early as possible. If you haven’t reported your injury yet, today would most likely be a good day to do so.
Seriously, every day you wait to report your Defense Base Act injury increases the odds of your claim being denied by the DBA insurance company (they deny timely reported claims left and right also), and most importantly, having your claim denied by the DBA Judge.
If nothing else, send an email. Tell a supervisor or someone in the company that is higher in rank than you. “Hey, I got hurt on such and such day when I did such and such.... My back hurts....” You don’t need to provide a huge amount of information: basic details are fine and probably preferable. Send a copy of the email to yourself so you can document that it was actually sent.
All Defense Base Act employers are required to secure the payment of compensation. If the employer fails to obtain DBA insurance, you can sue the employer for civil damages. In uninsured DBA employer cases, the employer cannot defend the claim based upon your injuries being caused by a co-worker, assumption of the risk, or due to your negligence.
* Want more in-depth information on how to report your injury; check out pages 18-19 of the “Win Your Defense Base Act Case” book.
5. What is the biggest myth about the Defense Bast Act and how do I get help my process?
There’s a huge misconception about the Defense Base Act that needs to be dispelled in order for you to understand why you’ll need a seasoned Defense Base Act Lawyer to fight for your DBA benefits:
Just because you have a legitimate injury and cannot work, it does not mean that you will receive Defense Base Act benefits. That’s because benefits are paid by your employer’s insurance company, which has an arsenal of lawyers who are paid to deny your claim.
The fact that you have a legitimate injury means next to nothing when you are going into court asking for money. The only thing that matters is, “What can you prove?” Not, whether you have a legitimate injury.
The well paid lawyers hired by the DBA insurance companies have the ways and means to twist things around. By the time you get to court they may have you second-guessing yourself. That is what they do.
These lawyers get paid a lot of money to get you all mixed up. Don’t think for a minute that it can’t happen to you. This happens every day to hard working folks with legitimate injuries, just like you.
This is why it is so important for you to hire a seasoned Defense Base Act Lawyer. Not some local attorney that comes well recommended by your accountant or friend.
The local lawyer may do fine with other types of injury or workers’ compensation cases - - but the last thing you want is your local lawyer to get steam-rolled by one of the big city DBA insurance company hired guns. In other words, you don’t want a lawyer that is learning on the job, so to speak.
The Defense Base Act (DBA) is very, very different than State workers’ compensation programs. Many DBA employees make the mistake of hiring a local workers’ compensation attorney to represent them for their Defense Base Act case. This is usually a big mistake.
The most important single thing you can do if you are a seriously injured Defense Base Act employee is to hire a seasoned Defense Base Act attorney. Don’t get lulled into thinking that just because your claim is “legitimate” that you won’t need an experienced Defense Base Act lawyer. The DBA insurance companies depend on workers like you making this mistake, again and again. You don’t want to go there.
Many seriously injured workers figure they can represent themselves in their Defense Base Act case. They figure they can save money on attorney fees by not hiring a Defense Base Act Lawyer. It is entirely understandable why these folks think they will be saving money. After all it’s only a DBA claim, what can be so difficult? Why would I need a Defense Base Act Lawyer?
When the other side has a lawyer, you need one, too. Too often, injured workers are out-lawyered by the insurance company. You need a lawyer that can go toe to toe with the big DBA insurance company lawyers.
You need a lawyer that knows the ins and outs of gathering medical evidence, filing well-documented DBA claims, and appearing at hearings. You need a lawyer that knows how to protect you from insurance company attempts to poke holes in your case.
While you aren’t required to have a Defense Base Act attorney to file for DBA benefits, it is always in your best interest to do so. If you are about to file for DBA benefits, if your claim has been denied, or your benefits have been reduced or terminated don’t wait - consult with a Defense Base Act lawyer today.
Oftentimes, the DBA insurance company adjusters will either not authorize your free choice physician or they will only authorize treatment with a doctor of their choosing. Either way, you need to make a record. Meaning, document what is happening to you.
A letter with a proof of service or an email will do. With email, be sure to send a copy to yourself also, so you can prove you emailed your request to the DBA adjuster.
Your letter/ email needs to say something like this:
Re: 11-7-2013 Afghanistan DBA Injury - XYZ Security Co.
Please be respectfully advised that I hereby choose the
Following physician to be my free choice physician:
Dr. Cindy Hugeheart
101 Hospital Lane City of Anywhere, My State
Please authorize evaluation/ treatment. Please advise.
Dave B. Hurting
* For more detailed information about what to do if the DBA insurance company won’t authorize your medical treatment, check out pages 75-77 in “Win Your Defense Base Act Case” book.