“No B.S. straight forward answers with no legal mumbo-jumbo, lawyer talk.”
Defense Base Act Lawyer Bill Turley
How do I get Defense Base Act money benefits?
How Do I Make a Defense Base Act Claim? ...or How do I start my Defense Base Act case?
You are working overseas under a U.S. military or other U.S. government contract and suffer an injury or contracted an illness. You may be thinking to yourself: What do I do now? How do I proceed?
These questions are the first things that come to mind and there begins the stress of not knowing where to go from there and how to get the help you need. Not knowing what you need to do can be stressful. So, I'm here to help.
In this article I discuss specific steps that you should take in order to help you win your Defense Base Act (DBA)Case. I give you specific steps that you can take in order to start your Defense Base Act case. And, importantly, what steps that you should take now in order to make sure you and your family get the DBA money benefits that you deserve.
For more help - be sure to get your free copy of my book - Win Your Defense Base Act Case.
It’s a court case
Sometimes it's better to see the big picture in order for you to understand what you need to do. At the end of the day a DBA case is a court case. It’s an adversarial process. You are up against a DBA insurance company. You vs. the DBA insurance company. It’s a court battle.
The DBA insurance company profits from denying legitimate claims
The DBA insurance company brings in money by collecting premiums from overseas civilian contracting companies. Like the company that you work for or worked for. They make money by not paying out claims such as your DBA claim. The more they pay you, the less profits they make. Because of this, the DBA insurance company is trying to find reasons for why they shouldn’t have to pay you the DBA benefits that you deserve.
It’s all about denying claims. They are going to attack you, your case, your credibility and character. All in an effort to not provide you the medical and money benefits that you are entitled to under the DBA.
You may think that this isn’t fair. You’re right. It’s not fair. It’s not right. But ignoring it or hoping that it’s not true is going to cost you a lot of money.
You job is two fold. First, avoiding these potentially case ending mistakes. That is one of the main things covered in my book - Win Your Defense Base Act Case.
Second, do all of the things you need to do in order to show the DBA insurance company that they should be providing you DBA benefits (and not denying your DBA claim). If you're claim is being denied - get my book IMMEDIATELY!. And check out this article.
You have to tell the truth
Because the DBA insurance company is going to attack you’re credibility it’s very important that you tell the truth. About everything.
If the Judge thinks you’re not telling the truth, you will lose your DBA case.
DBA insurance company tricks and traps
The DBA insurance company is going to lay tricks and traps in order to make you look like a liar. Don’t think that since you’re telling the truth, that you will be good. Not hardly. They will make you look like a liar, even if you’re not lying. It’s how they roll.
Because of this, I wrote the book Win Your Defense Base Act Case. My book will help you avoid the DBA insurance company’s tricks and traps. I guarantee that my book will help you. But you don’t have to believe me. I suggest you go to amazon.com and check out all of the 5 Star reviews of my book.
I realize that you probably don’t want to hear any of this. I don’t blame you. But my job is to tell you what you need to hear in order to win. Not to tell you that everything is great, when there is danger at your door.
Now, back to how to make a claim to get your DBA benefits....
The U.S. Department of Labor requires specific forms to be filled in by all entities involved in a DBA claim. Some are meant for you, the injured contractor who we will now refer to as the Claimant, and other forms are required for your Employer or their DBA Insurance Carrier.
You can opt to proceed with litigating your case on your own but knowing how to navigate the perplex DBA worker’s compensation system can be daunting. Therefore, I would recommend hiring a seasoned, and honest DBA lawyer to help you navigate the DBA system.
In this article, I’m here to dial in on the initial steps in the Defense Base Act process and how to get a DBA claim started from the time you are injured ant the moments following. Knowing what to do from the very beginning will help create a good foundation for your DBA claim and will help increase your chances of obtaining the DBA benefits you deserve.
Here is the order or suggested order of how to make a claim for DBA benefits:
1. If possible, report the claim
Obviously if you’re in a hospital and incapacitated, you can’t do this. And in this circumstance, your immediate and/or emergency medical care is your number one concern. But as soon as you are able, you need to report your injury.
An email will do. For example, an email to your supervisor or someone in management of your company that says you were injured while overseas (it doesn’t have to be while working – here is a good article on what is called the “Zone of Special Danger” doctrine). A very brief description of how you were injured (less is more, at this point). Here are a couple of examples:
“This morning, my back was injured when I was bounced in the back of the MRAP outside the FOB.”
“Today, I tripped outside of the mess hall and my right knee was hurt.”
“I was under enemy fire and I dove for cover and my shoulder and back hurts.”
You see, it doesn’t have to be much. You’re just trying to leave a good paper trail, proving that you were injured and that you gave “notice” to your employer.
Always send a copy of the email to yourself so you can document the email and when the email was sent.
2. Get medical attention: Seek Medical Care Right Away
Going to a doctor right away begins the medical documentation process. Therefore, it is important to obtain medical treatment as soon as possible. If you are still overseas, you should go to an on base clinic or medical facility that can provide you with an initial physical examination, conservative treatment, and medications as necessary. Often due to lack of medical equipment available, contractors are referred out of theater to seek medical attention by a doctor in their home state or country.
3. Document everything
Assume no one is going to believe anything that you say. So, try and document everything that you do with your claim. If you go to the doctor or medic at your FOB, ask for a copy of any forms or documents that they create. If they don’t give you a copy, take a photo of the document with your phone. If they won’t let you do that, take a photo (a selfie is ok, showing that you were at the medical facility getting treatment). At this point, you need to do whatever it takes.
This bears repeating, always request copies of any incident reports and medical reports overseas even prior to leaving theater on medical leave for the injury.
4. Why do I say that you should assume that “no one is going to believe anything you say?”
The main way that Defense Base Act insurance company defend legitimate DBA claims is to attack the credibility and character of the person bringing the claim (the Claimant). When this happens, you need all the corroborating evidence that you can get.
If your injury and medical treatment is corroborated as I have suggested here – you take these arguments away from the DBA insurance company. Meaning, that you weren’t really injured, or you didn’t timely report your overseas injury, or “if you were really injured, you would have gotten medical treatment while you were overseas.”
The more documentation, proof, evidence that you have, the lesser arguments and/or contentions that you are taking away from the DBA insurance company.
5. Get an incident report
Again, first things’ first, you need to notify your supervisor as soon as possible. Once you have provided notice of the incident along with your subsequent injuries, it is important to get it in writing. You will likely be asked to fill out an in-house incident report for your employer. Again, try and get a copy.
If they won’t give you a copy, take a photo of it. If they won’t let you take a photo of it, send a confirming email. Such as:
“This email is to document that I filled out an incident report today when I reported by neck injury that happened when I was lifting my gear off of the bus today at the FOB. Can you please give me a copy of the incident report? Thanks”
Always send a copy of the email to yourself so you can document the email and when the email was sent.
Again, nothing crazy. You’re just documenting everything.
6. Stuff gets “lost,” misplaced or whatever…
You’re in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, or Timbuktu or wherever. You have to assume that anything that happens or documents that get filled out while you’re overseas will not make it back to the USA for when you bring you’re DBA claim.
These are all forms, documents, etc. that will help you building your DBA case. I can’t tell you the number of times these documents disappear, get “lost”, the dog ate my homework. Whatever. This is why you’re trying to either get a copy, a photo of the document or send a confirming email.
7. Get the names and permanent contact information of all witnesses
Whenever possible, get the names, physical permanent addresses, telephone numbers and/or email private email addresses of all the witnesses to your injury incident. The same is for people that saw you injuries. For example, someone that saw your bruises or swelling or other proof that you had an injury.
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The Department of Labor forms – who should fill them out?
First, here is a good article on the Department of Labor forms.
Second, a valid question you should be considering is who should be filling out your LS-201 and/or LS-203 (this is the important form). I suggest that your lawyer should be filing your LS-203. This is because if any mistakes are made in the form, then you’re lawyer can’t be impeached (made to look like they are lying).
The US Department of Labor
The Defense Base Act is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. (LHWCA or Longshore Act). The U.S. Department of Labor – Longshore Division administers the Defense Base Act. Let’s look at some of the forms you will need for your claim. Here is an article about Defense Base Act forms.
The LS-201 is a U.S. Department of Labor form titled “Notice of Employee’s Injury or Death.” The LS-201 is supposed to be filed within the first 30 days of your injury. Don’t lose sleep if it’s already over 30 days after your injury already. The important form in is the LS-203.
By filling out this form, you will set the groundwork in place for your DBA claim. This report sets the process in motion and under DBA law, your employer is required to follow certain protocols after being made aware of a work incident resulting in an injury or death of a contracted employee. This form is also very important because it provides the initial “paper-trail” of evidence that an incident occurred during your employment overseas.
Subsequent and within 10 days of providing notice of your injury, your Employer is required to submit U.S. DOL form LS-202 titled “Employer’s First Report of Injury or Occupational Illness” when the injury causes you to lose more than one shift of work.
Let’s say you filled in the proper forms and submitted them to your employer. You were sent home on medical leave and you don’t hear from the employer for a while - it happens. Maybe your supervisor or someone in risk management or HR dropped the ball. You learn that your claim was never submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor and therefore a DBA carrier is not yet involved. What then? Well for one, your employer may be subject to penalties, so it may be time to discuss that with a DBA lawyer.
What you need to do is submit a claim form for yourself and here’s how:
The U.S. DOL form LS-203 titled “Employee’s Claim for Compensation” is filled in and submitted by you - the Claimant - or your attorney if you are being represented. Again, I would highly recommend that you speak to an experienced DBA lawyer and consider representation to help with these forms. I can’t stress to you enough how important these initial steps are in the process, so you want to get it done right. Filling out forms wrong can be disastrous for your case later, so again, I recommend you have an attorney do it for you.
In the tragic event of death, your spouse or other dependent would submit a form LS-262, titled “Claim for Death Benefits” The form LS-262 would accompany other required documents for all dependents that are claimed when filing. Again, at that point, hiring an attorney would be the best option for your family to aid in filing out this form, filing, and facilitating the DBA death claim.
Where to send your claims forms:
All Defense Base Act claims form mentioned can be filed by fax to the U.S. Department of Labor Case Create Fax number. This is the easiest, most efficient, and preferred way to get a claim going with the U.S. DOL.
Creating your Defense Base Act claim
You have to “create” or start your DBA claim/ case. You will need to fax or mail your LS-201 and/or LS-203 to the US Department of Labor. Here is how you do this.
Case Create Fax: (202) 513-6814
You may also submit your claim forms by mail at the following location:
United States Department of Labor
Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs
Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation
400 West Bay Street, Suite 63A, Box 28
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Mail or email a copy to the employer
You also need to provide a copy of the LS-201 and/or LS-203 to your employer. If you know the contact information for their DBA insurance carrier, send them a copy also.
The U.S. DOL Forms mentioned above are just a few of the forms used to initiate the DBA claim process. You can find more information about other important Defense Base Act forms in this article: https://www.turleylawfirm.com/library/defense-base-act-forms-what-forms-do-i-need-for-my-dba-claim-.cfm
For access to these forms and other frequently requested USDOL forms, you may visit this link to the U.S. Department of Labor Website: https://www.dol.gov/general/forms According to the website, some forms can be completed online, while you can download and print all others as needed.
What if I haven’t documented any of this stuff and no I’m back home and I don’t have any (or some of this documentation about what happened overseas?
First, don’t panic. I suggest that you make a list of all the documents or possible documents that you know of. Such as an incident report, medical reports, etc. Then work with your lawyer to see if you can get these.
Second, even if you can’t get any of this stuff, you can still win your DBA case. Not to suggest that’s it’s not better to have this documentation, because it is better to have it. But, just because you don’t have it or you can’t get it, doesn’t mean you can’t still win.
Third, I suggest you make a list of potential witnesses and try and get their contact information.
You make your own luck
I sincerely believe this. You can help yourself by working to get the evidence you need in order to win your case. You need to help gather the evidence you need in order to win your case.
Free Choice of Physician: Yes, you have the right to choose
As soon as you can once you arrive home, seek medical attention. If you do not have a doctor yet and you are needing immediate medical care and/or medications right away (for pain) you can go to an urgent care clinic. I would recommend keeping all receipts for any out of pocket medical expenses. This way, you or your attorney may request reimbursements for them later.
Under the Defense Base Act, you have the right to obtain medical treatment by a physician that you choose – also referred to as “Free Choice of Physician”.
You get one choice for your treating physician, so I would suggest that you do your research and choose wisely. You do not want the doctor that the insurance company recommends. What you do want is a doctor that is a patient advocate – not a doctor that will favor the insurance company because they are the ones paying the medical bills.
Obviously, seeking medical treatment is necessary if you have been injured, but there are benefits related to your DBA claim that makes the first physician’s visit so important. Along with starting the documentation process, or paper trail soon after the incident, going to a doctor right away is important so that you can obtain a work status report.
Once a medical assessment is made, your physician can determine whether you are able to return to work, or whether you’ll be needing extensive care by a specialist, examinations or ongoing treatment.
Obtain a Work Status Report
A work status report, or off work note, is something that you will need to show the insurance company’s representative as proof of your inability to return to work. The initial report does not need to be so formal. A handwritten or typed letter from your doctor with the office letterhead should suffice if it covers some basic points.
For instance, your doctor needs to state that the injury is related to/caused by your work overseas. Your doctor also needs to state that the treatment for your injury is essential and you will be taken off work/unfit for duty pending further treatment and recovery. You will be required to obtain an off-work status report each time the previous note expires, or during your follow up visits with your treating physician.
If you don’t have the enough medical evidence to support your claim, your claim can be denied. Unfortunately, it is often up to the injured victim to “prove” that injury benefits are deserved. This is one reason why obtaining accurate, updated medical reports, and more specifically, a work status report, is so important. Without the right documentation and careful preparation, even the most straightforward DBA claims can be and are often denied.
It’s about building your case
Good documentation is key to getting your DBA claim started as soon as humanly possible. I’m going to be completely honest with you, your DBA claim can be a long process – whether you have counsel or not. It will require a lot of waiting time and patience, which is ultimately frustrating for anyone in your position.
The good news is if you follow these steps and obtain all medical documents and incident reports from the very beginning, it will help your attorney evaluate and understand your claim, create a strong argument, and ultimately lessen the amount of time it takes for you to get your DBA benefits started.
Check out this article
I suggest you check out this article on 10 important DBA case tips.
Ongoing Medical Records
Ongoing medical records are important to document your need for continuing treatment as well as your progress and recovery process. Keeping your medical profile up to date is critical to knowing the extent of your injury and disability.
Your attorney will maintain a medical file for you and necessitate that your medical records are updated periodically. This will document your progress from the time of the injury and onward. Your eligibility for DBA disability benefits are dependent on whether you are responding to ongoing medical treatments.
Having all the updated medical facts in your case will better prepare you or your attorney for what is to come next in your case. Whether it be having to request for an informal conference with the Department of Labor, prepare you for an Independent Medical Evaluation (IME), counsel you for a Vocational Rehabilitation Assessment or Functional Capacity Evaluation, and the list goes on.
The bottom line is, to the extent possible, collect all relevant documents of the claim and your injury and keep a file altogether. Be sure to provide all to your attorney so that you can take full advantage of the DBA benefits in which you are entitled. The more information that you have, the better it will be for your attorney to make a strong case on your behalf.
Hire a DBA Lawyer
Having an experienced, honest, Defense Base Act lawyer on your corner could make all the difference with your case. Our DBA attorneys know the importance of filing deadlines and staying current with the United States Department of Labor DBA procedures. Our DBA attorneys know how to deal with the devious DBA insurance adjusters.
If you are thinking of going at this alone, please think twice – after all, it is your life that is affected.
I suggest you read this article – I discuss questions you may have about hiring a DBA lawyer.
Win Your Defense Base Act Case
I urge you to get your free copy of my book – Win Your Defense Base Act Case. I wrote the book not only to inform injured civilian contractors of their benefits under the DBA, but to help guide them through the process. I also discuss in depth specific steps you should take to find and hire your DBA lawyer in my book.
It really is “The Ultimate Straight Talk Roadmap to the Medical Treatment and Money You and Your Family Deserve”.
I’ve heard it many times by many contractors I’ve spoken to, whether they were clients or not.
The book has helped many families. You can see for yourself by checking out all the 5 star reviews of the book on Amazon.com
What are the time limits for my DBA case?
The DBA has statutes of limitations. That is time limits to bringing your DBA claim. Here is a great article about DBA statutes of limitations and PTSD case statutes of limitations.
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These discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. These testimonials, endorsements, photos and/or discussions do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, or your particular case/ situation. Every case is different. There are any number of reasons why DBA cases are not won or folks don’t get the result they were hoping for.