Go to navigation Go to content
Toll-Free: 866-705-4617
Phone: 619-304-1000
The Turley Law Firm P.C.

Overseas Civilian Contractors - Defense Base Act - PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Claims

Comments (10)

This post on PTSD and the Defense Base Act was updated on March 5, 2019 

"Straight-up, with no sugar added. Just old fashioned, unsweetened truth."

Bill Turley

 

Here is the deal. Most of what you find on the Internet about the Defense Base Act (DBA) is going to be generalized talk about the DBA. Some of it may help you understand the DBA a little better.  Mostly it will be lawyers telling you to hire them.  Seriously.

What you're going to see is that this website if VERY different. Here, you are going to find specific helpful information that is going to lay out for you what you need to do in order for you to first, not wreck your DBA PTSD case and second,  specific things you should do in order for you to win your Defense Base Act PTSD case.

Believe it or not, I'm known for being blunt,tell it like is, no B.S. I'm going to tell you right now that this is a long article on what you should do in order to win your Defense Base Act PTSD case. I walk you through the five building blocks of a successful PTSD case under DBA. And I tell you why you need to do, and not do, things. The more you understand the rational behind concepts, the more likely you are to grasp them and then actually use them to in order to help you win your DBA case. 

I guarantee the information on this webpage is going to be unlike anything you see anywhere else. Nothing else is even close. This webpage on PTSD is filled with eye-opening insider information on the Defense Base Act. I suggest that you don't be tempted to skip over sections, because all of the information in this article is important. 

So, pull up a chair, and hang on. 

 

Bill Turley - author of the 5 Star Book - Win Your Defense Base Act Case. If you do nothing else, I suggest that you read the dozens of 5 Star reviews of the book at amazon.com. 

 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and working in a war zone - PTSD and Overseas Civilian Contractors/ Private Contractors

If you've worked overseas as a civilian contractor you may have been exposed to some stressful events or even downright horrible events. Private contractors may be exposed to war theater stressors such as gunfire, improvised explosive devices, mortars, rockets, suicide bombers, IED’s,  serious injury, kidnappings, the deaths of fellow personnel, and more. All of these traumatic events can cause or contribute to PTSD. 

All of this,  is the reality of working in a war zone. Truth be told, there are thousands of folks just like you that have suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to being in-theater.

In many PTSD cases, the overseas civilian contractor is either not experiencing PTSD symptoms or is not medically diagnosed with PTSD until some time later, after they have stopped working overseas. Sometimes it is even years later. We will also discuss what you need to show in order to be successful in these “years later” PTSD claims under the DBA.

You're not alone

 

Most people have some stress-related reactions after experiencing traumatic events.  Anger, fear, sadness, guilt, shame and sleep problems are all common. You may have bad memories and/or nightmares of the event(s). If your reactions don't go away over time and they begin to disrupting your life, you may have PTSD. 

 

Getting to a better place - PTSD treatment 

There are two benefits in a Defense Base Act case: weekly money compensation benefits and medical treatment.  Putting aside the money benefits that you deserve if you have PTSD due to being overseas as a private contractor, the medical treatment that you are entitled to under the DBA, can help you get to a better place. I've see folks get much better with the right treatment. I also discuss how you (or a loved one) can get you treatment so your life and your relationships can improve.  

 

An overview of the building blocks of winning your Defense Base Act PTSD case

In order for you to win your Defense Base Act PTSD case, you should know the elements of building your case. I use the word “case,” because that is what you have - a “court case.”
 
There are five main building blocks you should understand in order for you to prove your PTSD court case:
 
1.  Always tell the truth,
2.  Medical diagnosis of PTSD,
3.  Overseas stressor,
4.  Medical “nexus” between your PTSD and the overseas stressor. That is, a link between your PTSD and the overseas stressor.
5.  Corroboration from outside sources for the DSM-5 PTSD criteria (overseas stressor and PTSD symptoms). 

In this article, our Defense Base Act lawyers discuss, in detail, these PTSD case building blocks and answer questions on how to bring and win your PTSD case under the Defense Base Act. 

Here are some of the questions that we answer: 

What is PTSD?

The building blocks of winning your Defense Base Act PTSD case

Why is it so important for me to always tell the truth? 

What medical evidence will I need in order to win my PTSD Defense Base Act Case?

What is an overseas stressor?

What nexus or link will I need between my PTSD and the overseas stressor?  

Why do I need corroborating evidence?  Won't my testimony and my doctor be enough? 

How can I help a loved one that is (or was) an overseas civilian contractor and has PTSD? 

Filing a Claim

Does it matter whether I have a specific event that caused my PTSD rather than my PTSD being caused over a longer time while being overseas (cumulative trauma PTSD claims)?

Can I bring a PTSD claim under the DBA if I previously worked in a war theater while in the military? 

Can I bring a Defense Base Act claim if I was sexually assaulted and/or raped? 

What if the doctors say that due to PTSD I should not go back to work in a war zone? 

How can I get medical treatment for PTSD under the DBA?

What kinds of medical treatment for PTSD can I get through my Defense Base Act case? 

How long do I have to file my Defense Base Act Claim?....... What  is the statute of limitations for a Defense Base Act PTSD case?  
 
Is there a general rule for the time you have to file your PTSD claim?

Do I have a PTSD case under the Defense Base Act if I haven’t worked as an overseas civilian contractor for years? 

Do I have to be medically diagnosed with PTSD before the statute of limitations period begins?

Do I have to be aware that I have a "loss of wage earning capacity" before the statute of limitations period begins for a Defense Base Act PTSD claim? 

What is the test to see if I can bring a DBA claim for PTSD -  if I haven’t filed a PTSD claim yet and I haven’t worked overseas in over two years?

Does the law presume my PTSD claim is filed timely?

What is the bottom line on when I have to file my DBA claim for PTSD?
 
What money benefits can I get for a PTSD claim under the Defense Base Act?

Can the Judge award me a lump-sum amount of money for my DBA case?

Can I get a lump-sum settlement for my PTSD case from the DBA insurance company? 

Have questions?

What symptoms do you need to have in order to be diagnosed with PTSD for a  Defense Base Act case? 

What is the DSM-5 Criteria for PTSD? 

Detailed explanation for the DSM-5 Criteria for PTSD

Does it matter whether I have a specific event that caused my PTSD rather than my PTSD being caused over a longer time while being overseas (cumulative trauma PTSD claims)? 

What is a qualifying PTSD Diagnosis? 

Why shouldn’t I think.... “I have a doctor that diagnosed me with PTSD, so I’m good” therefore I don’t need any corroborating evidence? 

What is meant by “conditions existed that could have caused the harm?”

What are some sources of corroboration for the overseas stressor? 

Can I use newspaper and online articles to corroborate my overseas stressors? 

I worked at Bagram, can I bring a PTSD claim?

Can the threat of “insider attacks” be a PTSD/ DSM-5 stressor under the Defense Base Act?

A case study - - a security consultant at Camp Dahlke West - proving the PTSD claim with a Stars and Strips article 

How can I prove my PTSD symptoms / DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria with corroborating evidence? 

Who are the best corroborating witnesses for proving my DBA case? 
 
What if I worked for more than one private contracting company when I worked overseas and I now have PTSD? The “last responsible employer” rule and the Defense Base Act....

Do I have to pay an attorney to represent me for my Defense Base Act PTSD claim? 

Medical Treatment Revisited - "Can you help me find a psychologist or counselor to help with my PTSD? 
 
Am I entitled to money benefits for my PTSD claim?

What if I previously worked in the military and worked in a war zone - can I still file a PTSD claim as an overseas civilian contractor?

 

What is PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - also called PTSD - is a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying event or events. Symptoms may include flashback, nightmares, severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event or events. 

I, along with most medical professionals that have experience with PTSD and war theaters - know that "disorder" is simply the wrong term.  This is an "Injury."  Just as real as a leg injury or a back injury.  More so, for many.  Although it's called PTSD - it should be called Post Traumatic Stress Injury. 


The building blocks of winning your Defense Base Act PTSD case

1.    Why is it so important for me to always tell the truth? 


A DBA case is a court case. Your case will be decided by a Judge.  One of the most important roles of the Judge in your DBA case is for the Judge to make credibility determinations. The Judge must weigh your credibility. That is, whether your testimony is believable or not. 

Similarly, the Judge will make credibility determinations concerning the DBA insurance company witnesses. 
 

The Judge is entitled to determine the weight to be accorded to conflicting evidence and the courts of appeal may not reweigh it.  See, e.g., Jones Stevedoring Co. v. Director, OWCP [Taylor], 133 F.3d 683, 31 BRBS 178(CRT) (9th Cir. 1997); Cordero v. Triple A Machine Shop, 580 F.2d 1331, 8 BRBS 744 (9th Cir. 1978), cert. denied, 440 U.S. 911 (1979).  What this means is that if the Judge finds you to not be credible and finds that your testimony doesn't support your claim, then you can't appeal that part of the decision.  It's a "read 'em and weep," you lose. 

That is what happened in this recent Defense Base Act PTSD case. This wasn't one of our cases, but it painfully demonstrates that you will usually lose your DBA case, if the Judge doesn't believe you. 

Never lose sight of you having to prove your DBA case in court in order for you to recover money benefits and receive medical treatment. 

My job is to tell you the way it is, not the way you might want it to be. I am going to be straight with you on what you are going to need to do in order to win your DBA case. So here goes. 

The first main factor that will determine whether you win your case is whether the judge believes you or not. Nothing is more important than your credibility. Nothing else is even close.  You have to tell the truth about everything. Don't fudge, don't exaggerate. If the Judge doesn't believe you - then you will lose. It is just that simple.

The problem here is that the insurance company will try to lay tricks and traps in order for the Judge to question your credibility. They are easy to avoid if, and only if, you spot them first. Which, most folks, even honest, well meaning folks, miss. My book - Win Your Defense Base Act Case lays out how to avoid the DBA insurance company's tricks and traps. You can get a free copy of my book here or you can buy it from amazon.com. Be sure to check out the 5 Star reviews on amazon.com

In every case the DBA insurance company is going to try and make you look like a liar. No matter how credible you think you are, no matter how legitimate of a case you have. The DBA insurance company is going to lay tricks and traps for you, so they can use them to attack your credibility and character. They do it to everyone, they’re not singling you out. Frankly, they do all of this because it works.

You need to understand that the DBA insurance company is hoping that you will not tell the truth about your DBA case. The thing is, you don't have to try and lie for you to fall for their traps.

Oftentimes, you will fall for their traps even when you are trying to tell the truth. The insurance company is hoping that you don't understand the nuances of how you should answer questions and/or provide information.  They want you to make common  mistakes that will wreck your DBA case. 

You are up against an insurance company. Their sole goal is to come up with reasons, not to pay you the money benefits you are entitled to under the Defense Base Act. It's all about money to them. Don't lose sight of that. 

Don't make the mistake that a lot of folks make is by thinking that because you're honest, you're telling the truth and that you have a legitimate PTSD case that you're good. That because of all this, you have nothing to worry about. 

My office gets contacted every month by folks just like you that either didn't get the "memo," so to speak or unfortunately, ignored it, because they thought they would be good. Sometimes, in spite of all this we can "fix" their case. Sometimes we can't. Either way, all of the negative issues with your DBA case will lessen the settlement value of your case and/or increase the odds that you will not win your case at trial. 

The good news is that most of these mistakes are avoidable, if you spot them and know how to deal with them. I explain all about this in my book - Win Your Defense Base Act Case. 

Thus, the first step you need to take is to get, then read my book, Win Your Defense Base Act Case. In the book, I explain the steps you need to take to not fall for their tricks and traps.

 

I lay all of this out in my 5 Star book - Win Your Defense Base Act Case.  

Win Your Defense Base Act Case - PTSD Claims and the Defense Base Act

 


You don't need to believe me, you can check out all of the  5 Star reviews on Amazon.com.

You can either go to amazon.com and put in the search bar "Defense Base Act" and find my book and buy it on amazon.com or you can get your free copy of Win Your Defense Base Act here

Either way, I suggest that after you read this article that you go to amazon.com and read the dozens of 5 Star reviews of the book. 

I'd like to ask a little favor for me. If you like my book, please leave a review on it's amazon.com page. I would greatly appreciate it if you could share your experience of reading the book by leaving your review on amazon. It doesn't have to be long. A sentence of two would do nicely.  By leaving a review, you can "pass it on" to other seriously injured overseas civilian contractors. 

 

2.   What medical evidence will I need in order to win my PTSD Defense Base Act Case?

To win your DBA claim, you need a formal diagnosis of PTSD from a qualified medical professional. You need persuasive and credible medical evidence.

The standard used in DBA cases for diagnosing PTSD is the  Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). It is a manual that is published by the American Psychiatric Association. There have been many editions.  The most current version is DSM-V (fifth version). Or also called, DSM-5.

Your doctor will need to use the diagnostic criteria in DSM-5.  If your doctor is using a previous version, then the Judge may not accept his opinions. However, most doctors are using DSM-5 now.
 
You doctor will be evaluating the same DSM-5 diagnostic criteria as the Judge. 
 
PTSD claims are measured or judged based  upon DSM-5 (also called DSM-V) diagnostic criteria. Think of this diagnostic criteria as a check list, so to speak.

The doctors and the Judge in your case are going to literally, check off the diagnostic criteria in order to determine whether you win or lose your PTSD claim.  You doctor will need to write a report that documents all of your symptoms that qualify you as having PTSD. 

Later in this article, I discuss the DSM-5 PTSD diagnostic criteria in depth. 

3.    What is an overseas stressor? 

For any type of Defense Base Act claim, you must have an overseas event, injury or disease. You will need to show that conditions existed overseas that may have caused or contributed to your medical condition and/or disability. A PTSD case is no different. 
 
You must provide the Judge with some evidence that something happened while you were overseas that was stressful.  This is sometimes referred to as a stressor in the DSM-5. 

Examples of common stressors that overseas civilian contractors have experienced are gunfire, improvised explosive devices, mortars, rockets, suicide bombers, IED’s,  serious injury, kidnappings, the deaths of fellow personnel, and more. All of these traumatic events can cause or contribute to PTSD. 


4.   What nexus or link will I need between my PTSD and the overseas stressor?  

Once you establish that you have a medical diagnosis for PTSD under the DSM-5 and that conditions existed overseas that you were exposed to stressor events, you will need to link the two together in order to establish that your current PTSD symptoms were caused and/or contributed to by your being overseas. 

You will need to link the two together with a medical opinion. The Defense Base Act insurance company will probably be defending your claim by obtaining a psychiatrist and/or psychologist. Thus, you will usually want a doctor whose opinion will carry the same weight as the DBA insurance company doctor. 

Although, you may be able to prevail in your case with the opinion of a licensed therapist or counselor.

 

     5.   Why do I need corroborating evidence?  Won't my testimony and my doctor be enough? 

Let's start at the top, what's meant by "corroborating evidence?"
 
Corroborating evidence is evidence from a source other than you, that confirms events and/or your factual contentions in your case. 
 
It is anything that corroborates, confirms and/or supports your claim, or parts of your claim, for benefits under the Defense Base Act. 
 
I recommend that you try and get corroboration of the PTSD DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria. This is an important part of you putting together the best case as possible. Let me explain why. 
 
Because the DBA insurance company is going to attack your credibility, it is always best to prove as much of your Defense Base Act claim, as possible, with evidence other than by your testimony. This is true of all DBA cases, including PTSD cases. 
 
For example, in a PTSD case - the stressors (read: overseas traumatic events) and/or the DSM-5 Diagnostic criteria (read: PTSD symptoms) are events and/or factual contentions in your case that you will need to prove in order to win your case.
 
 
As I say repeatedly and as loudly as possible, if the Judge doesn’t believe you, then you are going to lose your DBA case. 
 
Thus, because the DBA insurance company is going to attack your credibility, you need to try to do is to prove as much as you can concerning your DBA claim, if possible, with evidence other than your own testimony. This is for two reasons.
 
First, because when your credibility is at issue, the less you have to prove with your testimony, the better chance you have of success. 
 
Second, the more corroboration you have of your testimony and/or evidence in your case the more that bolster’s your credibility. That is, it makes you more believable.

Corroborating evidence can be incident reports, emails, newspaper articles, online articles, statements from co-workers, statements from family members, statements from your friends, and even W-2's and paycheck stubs. It is basically anything that helps you prove part of your DBA case other than with you own testimony. 

Later in this article, I discuss in more detail, corroborating evidence for stressors and the other PTSD DSM-5 diagnostic criteria. 

 

How can I help a loved one that is (or was) an overseas civilian contractor and has PTSD? 

When someone you love has PTSD, it can affect not only them, but also your relationship with them. They may be less happy and outgoing, have trouble sleeping, or seem "on edge." They may have a hard time at work or school. And they may pull away from friends, family, and loved ones. Fortunately, there are options for making things better.


You may be wondering how you can help a loved one that was an overseas civilian contractor and has PTSD symptoms. A large number of potential clients that contact our office in order to explore filing a Defense Base Act claim for PTSD, do so because they are persuaded or encouraged to do so by a loved one.


Two of the common symptoms of PTSD are denial and despair. Thus, one of the ways that you can really help your family member, relative or friend is encouraging them to get help. Meaning, medical help, counseling, and legal help.


You can help them get information on effective treatments for PTSD. And, if they are a current or former overseas civilian contractor they may be entitled to significant compensation due to their PTSD.


If they are (or you are) reluctant to take the first steps, then contact our office. We can help with getting the medical treatment that will be the first step toward getting your life back.


 

Filing a Claim

You need to file a claim under the Defense Base Act (DBA). This  is a workers’ compensation program for overseas civilian contractors.   A claim is started by filing a form LS-203 with the United States Department of Labor and providing a copy to the employer you worked for overseas.

I suggest that you have your lawyer file you claim for you. I also suggest you read my book - Win Your Defense Base Act Case before you talk to the insurance adjuster, give a statement, sign any forms or even hire the wrong lawyer.

 

Does it matter whether I have a specific event that caused my PTSD rather than my PTSD being caused over a longer time while being overseas (cumulative trauma PTSD claims)?

Some folks have their PTSD caused by a specific event. For example, they were shot, or they were in an explosion, they were sexually assaulted. In these instances, their PTSD is due to a “specific injury.”  In this case, you will generally have one year to file your claim.  If you are within the one year, you should file your DBA claim within the one year. Sooner is always better than later.
 
If you are outside the one year, there are ways around the one year rule, and I suggest you contact the best, honest DBA lawyer that you can find.  Do this asap. Like today, would not be too soon. 
 
Other folks PTSD is caused by many event that occur over time. Such as multiple rocket and mortar attacks, driving on roads that have IED’s, suicide attacks that occur at the FOB or Camp, constantly working outside the wire. These are just examples. 
 
Under the DBA, these multiple event PTSD cases are called “cumulative trauma” cases. Meaning they are cumulative in nature, it wasn’t just one single event that caused or contributed to your PTSD. 
 

Can I bring a PTSD claim under the DBA if I previously worked in a war theater while in the military? 

Under the DBA, it’s ok if you previously served in the military and you also had traumatic events when you were in the military. This is common.  This is the case, even if some of your PTSD is attributed to your military service. 

Your doctor is going to need to provide the opinion that you being overseas as a civilian contractor caused and/or contributed to your having PTSD. 

If you can show that your being overseas as a civilian contractor caused or contributed to your PTSD, then you can prevail in your PTSD case, even if you were exposed to traumatic events while in the military.


Can I bring a Defense Base Act claim if I was sexually assaulted and/or raped? 

The short answer is yes. You can bring a claim for any physical injuries that you sustained in the sexual assault and/or rape. In addition, you can bring a PTSD claim if you suffer PTSD due to rape and/or sexual assault.
 
 
 

What if the doctors say that due to PTSD I should not go back to work in a war zone? 

If your overseas employment was in a war zone, and now the doctors say that you should not go back to work in a war zone, because of your PTSD - - then you have made a prima facia claim for total disability under the Defense Base Act. Meaning, that you are entitled to permanent and total disability unless the DBA insurance company is able to show suitable alternate employment with a Labor Market Survey

 

How can I get medical treatment for PTSD under the DBA?

You need medical treatment in order to get better. Under the DBA you are entitled to medical treatment. However, as a practical matter the DBA insurance company is may initially deny your claim and refuse to provide medical treatment. This does happen in some PTSD cases. 

This is why it is always better to lawyer up, before a claim is filed. However, once you get the proper medical evidence supporting your PTSD, then you are more likely to have your medical treatment approved by the DBA insurance company.

In some instances, you will need medical evidence that you have PTSD, meeting the DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria, before the DBA insurance company will approve your PTSD treatment. Which can be difficult, because some folks can't afford to get a medical evaluation/ report. I understand.  It is problematic. Which is another good reason to lawyer-up early, because a good DBA lawyer can help you get the initial PTSD evaluation. 

The critical thing you need to understand about PTSD and the Defense Base Act is that you can get proper medical treatment / counseling and get to a much better place.  I've personally seen it work wonders. 

It can help you with your relationships with your spouse, your children, your family and friends. And help you get back to work. 

At the end of the day, nothing is more important than your health. This includes your mental health. 
 

What kinds of medical treatment for PTSD can I get through my Defense Base Act case? 

Post-traumatic stress disorder can be effectively treated. PTSD treatment can help you regain a sense of control over your life.  With treatment trauma survivors can live happy and productive lives. You don't have to try to handle the burden of PTSD on your own.
 
The primary treatment for PTSD is psychotherapy, also called “talk therapy.” The most highly recommended type is trauma-focused psychotherapies.  "Trauma-focused" means that the treatment focuses on the memory of the traumatic event or its meaning. 
 
Different techniques are used to help you process your traumatic experience. Some involve visualizing, talking, or thinking about the traumatic memory. Others focus on helping you with anger issues, nightmares, and/or depression. They can help change  unhelpful beliefs about the trauma.  
 

Combining these treatments can help improve your symptoms by:  

a.  Teaching you skills to address your symptoms.
 
b.  Helping you think better about yourself, family, friends, co-workers and the world in general.  
 
c.   Learning ways to cope if your symptoms arise again.
 
d.    Treating other problems often related to traumatic experiences, such as depression, anxiety, alcohol or drugs.


Psychotherapy

There are several types of psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, that may be used to treat PTSD. Some types of psychotherapy used to treat PTSD are as follows:

Cognitive therapy

This type of talk therapy helps you develop alternative, more logical or helpful thoughts. It helps you recognize the ways of thinking (cognitive patterns) that are keeping you stuck. 
 
For example, negative thought, negative beliefs about your self and traumatic events. 
 

Exposure therapy

This behavioral therapy is often used along with cognitive therapy. It is a safe way to face both situations and memories that are feared and avoided so that you can learn to cope with them effectively. This is helpful  for flashbacks and nightmares.


Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that helps people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of traumatic events. EMDR combines exposure therapy with a series of guided eye movements that help you process traumatic memories and change how you react to them.

Stress management skills 

Your therapist can help you develop stress management skills to help you better handle stressful situations and help you cope with stress in your life.


Group therapy 

Group therapy provides you a way to connect with others going through similar experiences. It helps give you a chance to share your stories with others and make you feel more comfortable talking about your own trauma. It allows folks to connect with others in similar circumstances. 
 

Family and couple therapy

This can help you maintain good relationships and dope with difficult emotions. PTSD can sometimes have significant impact on family relationships and this type of therapy can be very helpful. 
 

What's best for you

You and your mental health professional can discuss what type of therapy or combination of therapies may best meet your needs.
 

Medications

Several types of medications can help improve symptoms of PTSD. 
 

Taking the first step 

The important part is taking the first step. If you don’t know where to start or how to start, a good, honest Defense Base Act lawyer can help get you evaluated in order to help you decide what are the best options for you.


How long do I have to file my Defense Base Act Claim?....... What  is the statute of limitations for a Defense Base Act PTSD case?  

A statute of limitations is basically a time limit on how long you have in order to file a legal claim.  The Defense Base Act has their own statute of limitations. 
 
However, the statute of limitations or how long you have to file a Defense Base Act claim for PTSD has some particular rules (in essence that is what the law is, a set of rules). 
 

Is there a general rule for the time you have to file your PTSD claim?

If your PTSD was caused by one event and only one event - then the DBA insurance company is going to have an argument that you have a one year statute of limitations.  If you were exposed to two or more events or multiple events that caused or contributed to your PTSD than you probably have a “cumulative trauma” and you have a two year statute of limitations. See Longshore Act 913(b)(2).
 
If you file a PTSD claim within a year of your working as an overseas civilian contractor where you were exposed to a war environment, you should be fine. If you were exposed to a lot of bad stuff over time while working as an overseas civilian contractor then you probably have two years from your last date working overseas in order to file a PTSD claim under the Defense Base Act. See Longshore Act 913(b)(2).
 
However, you should always file your DBA claim as soon as possible. This is not just for “statute of limitations purposes,” but also so you can recover benefits from the DBA insurance carrier.


Do I have a PTSD case under the Defense Base Act if I haven’t worked as an overseas civilian contractor for years? 

You can still prevail in your Defense Base Act claim, even if you haven’t worked overseas for years.  But, you need to understand the law in this regard (or at least have a DBA lawyer that does). 

Do I have to be medically diagnosed with PTSD before the statute of limitations period begins?

Generally, yes. 

Let’s break this down

Generally, your PTSD claim statute of limitations does not begin to run until you are medically diagnosed with PTSD and the doctor links your PTSD with your being overseas as a civilian contractor and you become aware or should become aware that you will lose wages because of your PTSD. 
 
“Begins to run” means that the two years (or one year) you have in order to file a claim doesn’t start until this medical diagnosis occurs. 
 

Do I have to be aware that I have a "loss of wage earning capacity" before the statute of limitations period begins for a Defense Base Act PTSD claim? 

 
Based upon a Dyncorp case, the Court held that your statute of limitations period does not begin to start (read: run); until:
 
1.   You are medically diagnosed with PTSD;

2.   The doctor links your PTSD with your being an overseas civilian contractor;

3.   You become aware of the doctor diagnosing you with PTSD and the Dr. Saying that your PTSD was caused or contributed to being overseas as a civilian contractor;

4.   You becoming aware or should have become aware that your PTSD caused you to have a loss of wage earning capacity.

What is the test to see if I can bring a DBA claim for PTSD -  if I haven’t filed a PTSD claim yet and I haven’t worked overseas in over two years?

Stated differently, the test is:
 
1.   You worked overseas as a civilian contractor and you suffer from PTSD. 

2.   The date was medically diagnosed with PTSD. 

3.    The date that a medical diagnosis states or suggests that they have a loss of wage earning capacity due to PTSD.  

4.    When you become aware of 1-3 above. For example, doctor opines you can not go back to work overseas due to PTSD. Which demonstrates a loss of wage earning capacity on your part.
         
As the Judge in the Dyncorp case said: 
 
“When the employee knows or should know that the injury is work related, and knows or should know that the injury will impair the employee's earning power."  Paducah Marine Ways v. Thompson, 82 F.3d 130, 134 (6th Cir. 1996) (citing cases from the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, Eleventh, and D.C. Circuits). Dyncorp Int'l v. Dir., OWCP (2d Cir. 2011) 658 F.3d 133, 136-137. (Emphasis added). 
 
“Moreover, that a psychologist observes symptoms in a patient during an unsolicited evaluation does not imply that the patient is consciously aware of the full extent of the symptoms herself. This is especially true where denial, which is often associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, is one of the symptoms. Finally, it not reasonable to conclude that a patient in Mechler's position—even if fully aware of the symptoms—would understand the consequences of such symptoms on her earning capacity. Mechler likely did realize, at some level, that she was psychologically distressed when she met with Hough, but, because she was not experiencing problems at work, she had no reason to link those problems to her job prospects.”
Dyncorp Int'l v. Dir., OWCP (2d Cir. 2011) 658 F.3d 133, 139-140. (Emphasis added).


Does the law presume my PTSD claim is filed timely? 

Yes. As stated by the court in the Dyncorp case:
 
“We also adopt the Board's position that claims like Mechler's (the Claimant in the case) are presumed timely...Thus, only by producing "substantial evidence," see 33 U.S.C. § 920(b), of untimeliness can an employer successfully raise a statute of limitations defense under the Act. Dyncorp Int'l v. Dir., OWCP (2d Cir. 2011) 658 F.3d 133, 136-137.


What is the bottom line on when I have to file my DBA claim for PTSD?

It is not enough to be diagnosed with PTSD due to being overseas to trigger the running of the statute of limitations. There has to also be a link between your PTSD symptoms and a loss of wage earning capacity. And you have to be made aware of it or should be aware of it. 
 
And since denial is a symptom of PTSD, you have a pretty good shot at it. 
 
Further, since the employer has the burden of proof on this statute of limitations defense - you probably have a pretty good chance of prevailing on your Defense Base Act PTSD claim, even if you haven’t worked overseas for years.
 
But's let's back up. The sooner you file your DBA claim the better. These are all great arguments for filing your DBA case more than one year after you worked overseas or even more than two years after you worked overseas. 
 
However,  you should always try and file your DBA claim, within one year of you stopping working overseas. Otherwise, you are just giving the DBA insurance company a reason to deny your claim.  You may very well prevail on this issue. But generally, you are better off filing earlier in order to not have to argue about it to begin with. 
 
If you are already past the one year, or even two years, I suggest you contact the best, honest DBA lawyer you can find as soon as possible.
 

What money benefits can I get for a PTSD claim under the Defense Base Act?

Under the Defense Base Act you are entitled to two benefits. Medical treatment and weekly compensation benefits. Under the DBA, a PTSD claim is what is called an unscheduled injury.  Thus, you are entitled to a weekly compensation benefit as long as you are temporarily totally disabled. 

Once you have reached maximum medical improvement, and you are not able to return to your usual and customary occupation as an overseas civilian contractor, then you are entitled to a permanent weekly compensation benefit if you have a wage loss. 

Permanent disability for unscheduled injuries are a wage loss concept under the Defense Base Act. Basically, you take your earnings as an overseas contractor in order to calculate your average weekly wage (AWW). Then you subtract your wage earning capacity you have post-injury. Then you multiply by two-thirds to calculate your DBA compensation rate. 

There is a lot more to all of this, such as the insurance company will get a Labor Market Survey, which will be used to increase your earning capacity, and decrease the money that you are entitled to under the DBA

As a practical matter, if you are diagnosed with PTSD, very few doctors are going to have the opinion that you are able to return to a war theater. 

Since, most overseas civilian contractors earn a lot more as a private contractor than they can where they live (your home town); you will probably have a loss of wage earning capacity.


Currently the maximum weekly compensation benefit under the DBA is $1,510.76. (10/1/2018 to 9/30/2019). 

 

Can the Judge award me a lump-sum amount of money for my DBA case?

The Judge in your DBA trial can only award weekly compensation benefits (permanent and temporary). If you are owed retro temporary disability benefits or retro permanent disability benefits (meaning past due weekly benefits that were not paid to you); then you can receive those past due weekly benefits in one sum if the Judge Awards you benefits. 

However, you can potentially settle your PTSD claim in a lump-sum amount. 

As you can see, I have provided links to help explain this all better. I explain all of this in depth in my book - Win Your Defense Base Act Case, you can get a free copy here. 

You’ll see that I provide a LOT more practical, usable information on the Defense Base Act than you will find any where else. My goal is for you to get the best result possible. 

My best advice (apart from you always telling the truth and reading my 5 Star book - Win Your Defense Base Act Case - you can get a free copy here); is for you to hire the best, honest Defense Base Act lawyers that will agree to take your case. 

I’m not suggesting that the lawyers that I work with are the only lawyers that can help you. I am suggesting that there are way too many lawyers that have pretty web sites and call themselves DBA lawyers that you should be really cautious about hiring. You need a lawyer that has handled hundreds of DBA cases and that has been trained by the best. You don’t want a lawyer that is learning on the job, so to speak.

 

Can I get a lump-sum settlement for my PTSD case from the DBA insurance company? 

At the end of the day, you are going to have to decide whether to try and settle your Defense Base Act PTSD claim or go to trial. That is accept a lump-sum settlement vs. the hazards and risks of trial. 
 
Just because you may prevail on the DBA PTSD statute of limitation defense doens’t mean that you will win your case. 
 
As I often quote Robert Hunter - ‘Nothings for certain, it can always go wrong.” 
 
Not trying to be Debbie Downer, just telling it like it is. 
 
Your PTSD claim can have considerable settlement value. But you need to realistically factor in all issues, problems and defenses into your analysis in regards to what to settle your Defense Base Act claim for.

 

Have questions?

Call us at 619-304-1000 or fill out the contact form on this web page.

 

What symptoms do you need to have in order to be diagnosed with PTSD for a  Defense Base Act case?   

PTSD claims are measured or judged based  upon DSM-V diagnostic criteria. Think of this diagnostic criteria as a check list, so to speak. 

The doctors and the Judge in your case are going to literally, check off the diagnostic criteria in order to determine whether you win or lose your PTSD claim. The symptoms that you will need to have are laid out in the diagnostic criteria, which is listed herein below. 

 

What is the DSM-5 Criteria for PTSD?

 

DSM-5 Criteria for PTSD

It may be easier to conceptualize the criteria as first, second, third, etc.  Since sometimes the criteria are referred to as A, B, C, etc., I have included both designations here.

There are eight diagnostic criteria for PTSD under DSM-5:


First Criteria (A):

A history of exposure to a traumatic event that meets specific stipulations

Second Criteria (B):

Intrusion symptoms.

Third Criteria (C):

Avoidance symptoms.

Fourth Criteria (D):

Negative alterations in cognitions and mood symptoms.

Fifth Criteria (E):

Alterations in arousal and reactivity symptoms.

Sixth Criteria (F):

          Concerns duration of symptoms.

Seventh Criteria (G):

Assesses functioning.

Eighth Criteria (H):

Clarifies symptoms as not attributable to a substance or co-occurring medical condition.

 

Detailed explanation for the DSM-5 Criteria for PTSD

 

Exposure to a traumatic or stressful event

All of the PTSD conditions in DSM-5 require exposure to a traumatic or stressful event as a diagnostic criteria. 

 

First Criterion (A): Stressor

The person was exposed to: death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence, as follows: (1 required)

Direct exposure:

-   Witnessing, in person.

-   Indirectly, by learning that a close relative or close friend was exposed to trauma. If the event involved actual or threatened death, it must have been violent or accidental.

-   Repeated or extreme indirect exposure to aversive details of the event(s), usually in the course of professional duties (e.g., first responders, collecting body parts).

This does not include indirect non- professional exposure through electronic media, television, movies, or pictures.

 

Examples of stressors that will support your claim for PTSD under the Defense Base Act

We are usually talking about events where your life is in danger or events where terrible things happened to you or others. These are usually war related events such as these: 

- rockets

-mortars

- improvised explosive device (IED

- bombs

- small arms fire

- artillery fire

- aircraft fire

- friendly fire

- suicide bombers

- missiles 

- grenades 

- snipers 

- roadside explosives 

- terrorist attacks 

- ambushes

- torture

- kidnappings 

- assaults 

- being seriously injured

- seeing people injured, killed or dead

- being attacked

- rape or sexual assault 

 

Second Criterion (B): Intrusion Symptoms

This concerns re-experiencing the traumatic event through intrusive memories, flashbacks, nightmares, or intense mental or physical reactions when reminded of the trauma.

The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in the following way(s): (1 required)

    -  Recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive memories. 

    -  Traumatic nightmares. 

    -  Dissociative reactions (e.g., flashbacks) which may occur on a continuum from brief episodes to complete loss of consciousness. 

    -  Intense or prolonged distress after exposure to traumatic reminders.

    - Marked physiologic reactivity after exposure to trauma-related stimuli.

Note: you can have all of these symptoms or just one. But, you need at least one of these symptoms in order to support your claim for PTSD. 

Reliving the event(s)

This is also called re-experiencing. memories of trauma, combat, being under attack, etc. can come back at any time. Many people have nightmares or feel like they are going through it again. Some folks call this a flashback. 

 

Third criterion (C): Avoidance

This concerns avoidance and numbing, such as avoiding anything that reminds you of the trauma, being unable to remember aspects of the ordeal, a loss of interest in activities and life in general, feeling emotionally numb and detached from others and a sense of a limited future.

Persistent effortful avoidance of distressing trauma-related stimuli after the event: (1 required)

    - Trauma-related thoughts or feelings.
    - Trauma-related external reminders (e.g., people, places, conversations, activities, objects, or situations).

Avoiding situations that remind you of the event(s)

You may try to avoid situations or people that bring back memories of the past. 


Note: you can have all of these symptoms or just one. But, you need at least one of these symptoms in order to support your claim for PTSD. 

 

Fourth criterion (D): Negative Alterations in Cognitions and Mood


This concerns negative thought and mood changes like feeling alienated and alone, difficulty concentrating or remembering, depression and hopelessness, feeling mistrust and betrayal, and feeling guilt, shame, or self-blame.

Negative alterations in cognitions and mood that began or worsened after the traumatic event: (2 required)

   -  Inability to recall key features of the traumatic event (usually dissociative amnesia; not due to head injury, alcohol or drugs).

   -  Persistent (and often distorted) negative beliefs and expectations about oneself or the world (e.g., "I am bad," "The world is completely dangerous.").

   -  Persistent distorted blame of self or others for causing the traumatic event or for resulting consequences.

   - Persistent negative trauma-related emotions (e.g., fear, horror, anger, guilt or shame).

   - Markedly diminished interest in (pre-traumatic) significant activities.

   - Feeling alienated from others (e.g., detachment or estrangement).

   - Constricted affect: persistent inability to experience positive emotions.


Note: you can have all of these symptoms or just two. But, you need at least two of these symptoms in order to support your claim for PTSD. 

Fifth criterion (E): Alterations in Arousal and Reactivity

This concerns hyperarousal, including sleep problems, irritability, hypervigilance (on constant “red alert”), feeling jumpy or easily startled, angry outbursts, and aggressive, self-destructive, or reckless behavior.

Trauma-related alterations in arousal and reactivity that began or worsened after the traumatic event: (2 required)

   -  Irritable or aggressive behavior.

   -  Self-destructive or reckless behavior.

   -  Hypervigilance.

   -  Exaggerated startle response.

   -  Problems in concentration.

   -  Sleep disturbance.

Note: you can have all of these symptoms or just two of them. But, you need at least two of these symptoms in order to support your claim for PTSD. 


Hypervigilance 

It seems that a lot of overseas civilian contractors that have worked in war theaters have hypervigilance. It has to with always being on edge. You feel like you have to be alert at all times. There is a saying in the military, "Stay alert, stay alive."  When you come back home after you leave the war theater you may be overly vigilant. 

For example, you go into a restaurant and you can't have you back to the door.. You don't really enjoy your meal because you're waiting for bad guys to come through the door. 

You are always on the look out for danger. Hypervigilance can really affect your ability to enjoy life. 

This is one area when treatment seems to help folks. 

Sixth criterion (F): Duration

Persistence of symptoms (in Criteria B, C, D and E) for more than one month.

Seventh criterion (G): Functional Significance

Significant symptom-related distress or functional impairment (e.g., social, occupational).

Eighth criterion (H): Attribution

Disturbance is not due to medication, substance use, or other illness.

Specify if: With dissociative symptoms.

In addition to meeting criteria for diagnosis, an individual experiences high levels of either of the following in reaction to trauma-related stimuli:

    - Depersonalization: experience of being an outside observer of or detached from oneself (e.g., feeling as if "this is not happening to me" or one were in a dream).
    - Derealization: experience of unreality, distance, or distortion (e.g., "things are not real").

 

Does it matter whether I have a specific event that caused my PTSD rather than my PTSD being caused over a longer time while being overseas (cumulative trauma PTSD claims)? 

Some folks have their PTSD caused by a specific event. For example, they were shot, or they were in an explosion, they were sexually assaulted. In these instances, their PTSD is due to a “specific injury.”  In this case, you will generally have one year to file your claim.  If you are within the one year, you should file your DBA claim within the one year. Sooner is always better than later. 
 
If you are outside the one year, there are ways around the one year rule, and I suggest you contact the best, honest DBA lawyer that you can find. 
 
Other folks PTSD is caused by many event that occur over time. Such as multiple rocket and mortar attacks, driving on roads that have IED’s, suicide attacks that occur at the FOB or Camp, constantly working outside the wire. These are just examples. 
 
Under the DBA, these multiple event PTSD cases are called “cumulative trauma” cases. Meaning they are cumulative in nature, it wasn’t just one single event that caused or contributed to your PTSD. 


What is a qualifying PTSD Diagnosis? 

To win your DBA PTSD claim, you need a formal diagnosis of PTSD from a qualified medical professional. Your doctor will need to use the diagnostic criteria in DSM-5. If your doctor is using a previous DSM version, then the Judge may not accept his or her opinions. However, most doctors are using DSM-5 now.
 
Your doctor will be evaluating the same diagnostic criteria as the Judge will be looking for while using the DSM-5. Thus, corroborating evidence will only make your doctor’s opinion that you suffer PTSD stronger. 
 
Your doctor will need to write a report that documents all of your symptoms that qualify you as having PTSD.  This includes a stressor and/or stressors (read: traumatic events) linked to you’re being an overseas civilian contractor.  This is called a “qualifying PTSD Diagnosis.”
 
You will need a medical doctor to diagnose your PTSD and relate it to the traumatic events that happened to you while you are overseas. You will need a well written and reasoned medical report that supports your case.
          
This includes a stressor and/or stressor (read: traumatic events) linked to you’re being an overseas civilian contractor.  
 
Your doctor's reports should be well reasoned and not written as conclusions. It is usually helpful for your doctor to go through each of the DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria, one by one. If the doctor gives examples of each or explains your corresponding symptoms, that is helpful. 
 
Too often medical reports are written as conclusions, without supporting evidence or supporting explanations. This is rarely persuasive and convincing. 

 

Why shouldn’t I think.... “I have a doctor that diagnosed me with PTSD, so I’m good” therefore I don’t need any corroborating evidence? 

Don’t think, “I have a doctor that diagnosed me with PTSD, so I’m good.”
 
Because if you don’t have corroboration for the DSM-5 criteria and the DBA insurance company is successful in attacking your credibility, and the Judge doesn’t believe any part of your testimony - you will lose. Simple as that. 
 
But wait, there’s more. You might have heard that thing about putting all of your eggs in one basket. That is what you are essentially doing by putting all of your PTSD case on the shoulder’s of your doctor. You might win, but, maybe not. 
 
But wait, there’s even more. Remember the DBA insurance company has a lot of money.  In many cases the DBA insurance company will go out an hire a doctor that has much better degrees, from much better schools than your local doctor. 
 
Worse yet, the DBA insurance company can hire a psychiatrist and a psychologist and you will have two doctors saying you don't have PTSD or if you do have PTSD, it wasn't cause due to your employment working for this overseas contracting company. 
 
Don’t think that this doesn’t happen. Because it does. 
 
On a good day, your doctor and the insurance company doctors will cancel each other out. On a bad day, the Judge will not believe your doctor and simply go with the DBA insurance company doctor’s opinions. Meaning, you lose. 
 
This is why you want to bolster your case as much as possible with witnesses that corroborate your DSM-5 criteria. More is more. At least it is when the DBA insurance company is saying you’re faking, you’re lying and they have really good doctors saying you don’t have PTSD, you’re fine. 
 
This is the voice of experience talking here.

What is meant by “conditions existed that could have caused the harm?”

Remember, your PTSD case is a court case. 
 
You’re going to need evidence to win your PTSD court case. 
 
In order to win your case - that is, in  order for you to make a "prima facia" case under the Defense Base Act, you have to produce enough evidence to prove your case. 
 
You must show you sustained harm (for example PTSD) and “conditions existed overseas that could have caused your PTSD.” This may all sound “too legal,” but sometimes it helps if you understand why I am telling you do to something that helps your DBA case. 
 
 
In this part of this article, we are going to focus on one aspect of this evidence that you are going to need, “conditions existed overseas that could have caused your PTSD.”  
 
These conditions, are overseas stressors that are required in order for you to meet the diagnostic criteria of DSM-5. 
 
PTSD can be cause by one traumatic event or due to cumulative exposure so stressful, traumatic events. 
 
What I am talking about is you proving that you were exposed to traumatic events while you were overseas that could have caused your PTSD.
 
You can expect the DBA insurance company to contest that you were not exposed to any traumatic events while you were overseas. And after they attack your credibility, they are going to suggest that the Judge not believe your testimony that you were, in fact, exposed to traumatic events. Seriously. This is how these PTSD cases play out. 
 
But you will overcome this, because you will know how to overcome the DBA insurance company attacking your credibility and how you can prove the DSM-5 stressor and diagnostic criteria (read: PTSD symptoms, because you have read this article and you will get and read my book - Win Your Defense Base Act Case.


What are some sources of corroboration for the overseas stressor? 

Again, I use the term “stressors” because that is the term for traumatic events used in the DSM-5.  I use the term “overseas” because DBA coverage is for folks that work as private contractors in foreign countries.
 
Remember, the overseas stressor is a traumatic event, or events, that occurred overseas. Such as rocket attacks, mortars, suicide bombers, etc. I provide a potential list of stressors in this article.
 
Sometimes an incident report will provide corroboration. Such as you were injured while diving for cover when you were under sniper attack. Obviously, being shot at is a stressful event. If you are claiming additional stressors, then you should try and get as much corroboration as possible. 
 
If you are still overseas, I suggest that you get permanent contact information from co-workers and/or others that can support these additional stressors. For example, other people that were at the same FOB you were at, that were there when there were mortar attacks, rockets, suicide bombers, or whatever is a potentially stressor event or events that actually occurred. 
 
Then you can get an email (or your lawyer can, if needed), or even a sworn statement describing the stressor events - from the person(s) that were on the FOB or Camp when you were there. 
 
If you are home from overseas, maybe you can get into contact with some folks that can talk firsthand about what you faced while you were overseas. 
 
Another source can be emails, that you sent to others while you were overseas, that described and/or mentioned the stressor events. If they were sent at or near the time of the stressor events, they corroborate your story. This isn’t the best corroborating evidence, but they are better than nothing. 
 
For example, if you sent your Mom an email (or emails) describing how you had to run like you life depends on it to the shelter when there are incoming rockets, this tends to corroborate your current testimony that there was rockets fired at the Camp you were stationed at. 
 

Can I use newspaper and online articles to corroborate my overseas stressors? 

One potential for proof of traumatic stressors where you worked overseas is the use of newspaper and online articles to corroborate that “conditions existed overseas that could have caused your PTSD.” 
 
A “google” search can sometimes work wonders. One newspaper or online report that corroborates your testimony can go a long way to bolstering your PTSD case. 
 
As my Mom used to say, "God helps those who help themselves."  Internet searches can help your DBA case. A lot. 
 

I worked at Bagram, can I bring a PTSD claim?

Bagram used to one of the most coveted jobs in Afghanistan: a position on a sprawling American military base, the biggest in the country. The huge military case was well guarded. The surrounding Parwan Province was one of the safest places in the country, well known as a Taliban-free zone.
 
You can bet that the DBA insurance company will try and portray Bagram to be as safe as a summer camp.  This is where newspaper and online sources can help prove your claim.
 
And compared to some places in Afghanistan, Bagram may feel “safer.” But there is more to the story about Bagram
 
Truth be told, Bagram has had it’s share of “stressors”/ traumatic events. There have been rockets and mortars at Bagram.. There have been contractors killed and injured by gunman at Bagram. There have been suicide bombers (who have worked on the base) whom have blown up American soldiers and private contractors. The links provided in this section help prove the stressors at Bagram airfield. 
 
Here is a review on Tripadvisor - from 2019: "It wasn't too terrible except for being shot at and mortar and rocket attacks all the time." A one star review. 
 
The use of newspaper or online sources for “stressors” at Bagram, can go a long way in helping to prove your PTSD claim. 
 
 

Can the threat of “insider attacks” be a PTSD/ DSM-5 stressor under the Defense Base Act?

The military’s April 1, 2018 - June 30, 2018 Report to Congress is an example of a source found online that can help you prove your PTSD claim: The Report states, in part: 
 
“Insider attacks pose a particular threat to U.S. and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.... Since 2007, insider attacks by Afghan forces have killed more than 150 U.S. and NATO forces.”  (Leading Report to U.S. Congress). 
 
Insider attacks have occurred all over Afghanistan, at almost all of the Camps, Forward Operating Bases (FOB’s) and in Kabul. 
 
Being killed by an insider attack is a very real fear, no matter where you are stationed in Afghanistan. Which, of course, is a stressor under DSM-5. 
 

A case study - - a security consultant at Camp Dahlke West - proving the PTSD claim with a Stars and Strips article 

I think case studies can be a good way to understand legal concepts.  With this case study, the names have been changed and any relationship to an actual case or events are purely coincidental. 
 
Tom is a security consultant that was recently an overseas civilian contractor. He is ex-military who served in Afghanistan. As a civilian contractor,  Tom  was stationed in a couple different Forward Operating Bases in Afghanistan.  In his final work assignment, as a private contractor, Tom was stationed at  Camp Dahlke West, 60 miles south of Kabul.  
 
Tom returned home and now has PTSD symptoms.  When Tom was at  Camp Dahlke West, the Camp was subject to fairly regular night time rocket and mortar attacks. Tom now has classic PTSD symptoms: nightmares, difficulty sleeping, startles easily, anger issues, constantly on edge, bring withdrawn at times, avoids talking about being overseas, and problems with relationships, etc. 
 

How is Tom going to be able to be able to prove, without his own testimony, that the Camp was subjected to attacks? 

A search online reveals a Stars and Strips 12-17-2018 article which states, in part: 
 
Soldiers at Camp Dahlke West in Afghanistan live on a "blackout" base at night, with all lights turned off to prevent Taliban from sighting their mortars. The base continues to be a favored target for insurgents, with at least 83 rocket or mortar attacks occurring since April.
 
The Stars and Strips article is corroborating evidence that “conditions existed at Camp Dahlke West in Afghanistan that could cause PTSD.”  Here, the Stars and Stripes article provides proof.  All Tom has to prove is that he was stationed at Camp Dahlke in Afghanistan between April 2018 and December 2018 and that the rocket and mortar attacks contributed to his stress, then Tom has made a primia facia case for benefits under the Defense Base Act. 
 

How can I prove my PTSD symptoms / DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria with corroborating evidence? 

Some folks with PTSD may have a difficult time asking for help, for something as personal as proving their PTSD symptoms. However, now is the time you need to turn to friends, family, and co-workers. 
 
Let’s use Tom, in the previous Camp Dahlke West case study for example. Tom’s spouse has seen Tom have problems with sleep disturbance. Tom's wife has seen him wake up with nightmares, in sweats and not be able to get back to sleep.
 
Tom's wife can talk about Tom having issues with his relationship with her and their kids. 
 
Tom’s friends can talk about how Tom used to meet up for boy’s night out for bowling or hanging out. Now Tom doesn’t come around that often as he used to. And when he does, Tom is on edge. He always has to sit so is back isn’t to the door. Tom always seems to be scanning, on the look out. Tom also seems prone to quick outbursts. When something unexpected happens, Tom reacts to it. They can talk about how Tom avoids talking about Afghanistan. 
 
Tom's brother can talk about how Tom is more distant from their family.  He can talk about Tom's anger issues and how Tom is on edge most of the time. 
 
As you can see, this testimony from Tom's wife, his brother and his friends can help Tom prove he meets the DSM-5 criteria. It also bolster's Tom's credibility.  One of the paralegals, along with Tom's DBA lawyer, helped gather short sworn statements from each of them.  
 
The reader is cautioned that all cases are different and great results in prior cases are no yardstick or guarantee of any particular result in your case. 
 

Who are the best corroborating witnesses for proving my DBA case? 

Generally, if possible, the best witnesses are not your family and spouse. Because your family and spouse have something to gain by your winning your DBA case. In regards to nightmares, sleep disturbance, and/or family issues from your PTSD, family members may be your only potential corroborating witnesses. So, in this case, family members may be your only option. Which, the Judge will understand.
 
Even though they are close family members, it is still good to have corroborating your DSM-5 diagnostic criteria (read: PTSD symptoms). You may need to use family members for other DSM-5 diagnostic criteria. If so, again, having them corroborate your DSM-5 diagnostic criteria is better than just your testimony alone. 
 
If possible, you should try and get friends and/or co-workers to corroborate as many of your PSTD symptoms as possible. For example, you being on edge, avoiding talking about being overseas, anger issues, etc.


What if I worked for more than one private contracting company when I worked overseas and I now have PTSD? The “last responsible employer” rule and the Defense Base Act....

This is not uncommon for civilian contractors to work overseas for more than one contracting company.  In this instance, the “last responsible employer” will be held to be liable for your PTSD claim under the Defense Base Act.  This is known as the “last responsible employer” rule.  
 
This rule comes into play when you have a cumulative trauma claim. Meaning, you were exposed to many stressors as opposed to one event (such as being in an explosion and that is what caused your PTSD). 
 
In a nutshell, in a multiple employer case (meaning you worked as an overseas private contractor for more than one company),  you will have to show that the last company that you worked for, where “conditions existed that could have caused the your PTSD,” will be held responsible for all of your PTSD benefits. This may or may not be the last overseas civilian contractor company that you actually worked for. It usually will be, but not always. 
 
In some instances, you may want to consider filing a PTSD claim against more than one employer. That depends on what the stressor events were for each employer. 
 
In any event, this is something you should discuss with the law firm that you hire for your DBA claim.

 

Do I have to pay an attorney to represent me for my Defense Base Act PTSD claim? 

No.

Generally, the insurance company should pay your attorney fees. You should never have to directly pay your attorney in order to handle one of these claims.

Depending on where you live, it may be difficult to find a seasoned Defense Base Act lawyer that knows how to handle civilian contractors - PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Claims.  In a nutshell, the Defense Base Act is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Compensation Act. Because of this, the very best lawyers handling these civilian contractor claims are lawyers that have been handling Longshore Act claims for years.

For example, our main office is in San Diego, with the largest shipyard on the West Coast all with workers that have claims that fall under the Longshore Act.

 

Medical Treatment Revisited - "Can you help me find a psychologist or counselor to help with my PTSD? 

You are entitled to what is called a free choice of physician. For many folks, finding a doctor that is experienced with combat theater PTSD is difficult. Because of this, we sometimes need to hook folks up with good psychologists or counselors via video conference. Many of our clients actually prefer this, because of the convenience. They don't have to leave home in order to get counseling. 

 

Am I entitled to money benefits for my PTSD claim?

While you are either temporarily totally disabled or permanently and totally disabled (these are legal terms which basically translate into you not being able to work in a war zone due to the PTSD); you are entitled to significant weekly disability benefits.  

Sometimes claims need to be taken to court.  However, as long as you tell the truth, you will have a good chance of prevailing.  Nothing is more important that your credibility is winning these cases.


What if I previously worked in the military and worked in a war zone - can I still file a PTSD claim as an overseas civilian contractor?

The short answer is Yes.
 
According to a Rand Study, which studied the rate of private contractors that worked in Iraq, Afghanistan or other conflict environments, 25% met criteria for PTSD. The Rand report stated, “Despite their troubles, relatively few get help either before or after deployment.” 84 percent of these private contractors  had previously served in the armed forces.
 
I have actually seen reports that it may be as high as 33% of all military personnel that served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan have PTSD. 
 
“Given the extensive use of contractors in conflict areas in recent years, these findings highlight a significant but often overlooked group of people struggling with the after-effects of working in a war zone,” said Molly Dunigan, co-author of the study and a political scientist with RAND, a nonprofit research organization.
 
Sixty-one percent of those responding to the RAND survey were U.S. citizens, 24 percent were from the United Kingdom and the rest were citizens of Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and other nations.
 
I have successfully represented former Navy Seals, Army Rangers, U.S. Marines and a lot of former military members for Defense Base Act PTSD claims. 
 
The first step is filing a claim. I suggest that you immediately contact the best, honest Defense Base Act lawyer you can. Remember, you don't want to wait because of the deadlines for filing claims. As I discussed previously in this article, we can often times work around those dates, the early you file your claim the better. 
 
 
 
 

More Information

Be sure to request a free copy of my new book:

Win Your Defense Base Act Case:
The Ultimate Plain English No B.S. Roadmap
To The Medical Treatment and Money
You and Your Family Deserve

 

Click here to see all the great 5 Star reviews of the book on amazon.com.

 

Or call my office 619-304-1000

We have represented more injured overseas civilian contractors than any other law firm on the West Coast. We have had one of the two largest DBA law firms in the world. We represent overseas civilian contractors all over the U.S.A. and the world.

 

 

This article is not legal advice or medical advice.  In this article I am simplistic in order to achieve clarity.  The case studies, examples, and/or illustrations are provided in order to help you understand the legal complexities and/or nuances and are not intended for you to make legal decisions and/or medical decisions.  They are not intended to represent any particular person or case. 

Every case is different. There are no guarantees in life or law. This is why you need to hire the very best, honest DBA lawyer that will agree to take your case. 

 

William Turley
Connect with me
“When I seek out professional advice, I don’t want B.S., I want it straight up. I figure you do also.”
10 Comments:
My husband (friend) spent 4 years in Afghanistan as a contractor,...
Posted by Carmon Palmer on August 9, 2018 at 10:39 PM
I was contactor from 3/2003 until I got wounded in a rocket attack in 3/2011
Posted by Sam Kallabat on July 23, 2018 at 01:17 AM
Hi, I've found your post to be very interesting not to mention informative. I am a former civilian contractor deployed overseas for seven years in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan as a supply Technician. It has been almost 7 years since, I returned to the states and, I still have a really difficult time sleeping, focusing. I very recently experienced a heart attack and my doctor said it was the result of not getting enough sleep and stress.
Posted by Paticia on June 14, 2018 at 02:31 PM
I'm a civilian contractor I spent 3+ years in Iraq plus 3+ years in Afghanistan. I am having a hard time with memory and sleep.
Posted by Keith Valentine Sr on May 21, 2018 at 01:06 PM
I need a copy of your book win my defense base claims
Posted by Thomas sarpong on November 19, 2017 at 03:24 PM
Has anyone filed a claim for sleep apnea
Posted by David on March 19, 2017 at 12:53 PM
I need to know the process in order to file a claim. I am suffer from PTSD.
Posted by Lyndon Bowen on May 22, 2016 at 04:03 AM
Is there a time frome to file a dba claimed after you have ended employment? I worked as a security contractor for 3.5 years and think I suffer from a range of PTSD symptoms
Posted by Tracy Rose on May 8, 2015 at 12:12 AM
I was a us contractor also im a retired military vet. my question is do I need to file a va form or dba ls 203 for ptsd
Posted by richard feldman on September 1, 2014 at 10:42 AM
Hi, I am not writing because I have a case but instead I am writing because I am researching PTSD. I am a former SF medic and now PA and I have worked in Iraq for the last 7 years. I am in a Doctoral program and writing a dissertation on PTSD. The focus is on contractors with PTSD and why they generally do not seek medical help. What I think you could help me with is some words on what you have seen and some of the reasons these gentlemen do not seek care or the problems they face with insurance or loss of employment when they do seek help. Your input would be very much appreciated. Thanks, Brent Kunzler PA-C
Posted by Brent KunzLer on July 20, 2014 at 02:51 PM

Post a Comment

To reply to this message, enter your reply in the box labeled "Message", hit "Post Message."

Name:*

Email:* (will not be published)

Message:*

Notify me of follow-up comments via email.

Live Chat