One of the common questions that we hear from contractors that work at United States Embassies and United States Consulates is, "If I work at an U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate as a contractor, am I covered by the Defense Base Act? The short answer is, "Yes."
This article is about helping you get Defense Base Act benefits if you work overseas at an U.S. Mission, Embassy and/or Consulate.
I also provide you Case Studies of workers that have been injured while working as a contractor at an U.S. Mission, Embassy and/or Consulate. Including workers that were injured during recreational activities or while they were not actually working that were still covered under the Defense Base Act. These Case Studies are provided so you can get a better idea of Defense Base Act (DBA) benefits, the DBA system and DBA concepts.
"No lawyer talk, no double talk. Just good old fashioned, unsweetened truth."
Defense Base Act Lawyer - Bill Turley
The Real Value of Hiring the Right DBA Lawyer
When you hire a Defense Base Act lawyer, you’re not hiring someone to guarantee that you’ll win your case. There are no guarantees in life or law (especially in the law, I might add). You’re not hiring them to build a case strategy plan and tell you what to do to get there. Although, that is part of it.
What you’re really hiring them to do is be a coach when things get difficult. When things go bad, or bad situations arise, or when it hits the fan. A good, honest DBA lawyer will help keep you from making a bad decision. Make no mistake about it - oftentimes no decision, is a decision. Which can be disastrous.
First of all, a good DBA lawyer knows the law and the procedure (the rules). This case is probably your first rodeo, so to speak. Even if it’s your second rodeo, you don’t want someone that is getting on the job training. You’re hiring someone that can see the field, so to speak. (Sorry, to mix metaphors here).
Second, a good DBA lawyer doesn’t have the same emotional attachment to your case that you have. Folks almost always evaluate their cases based upon emotion, rather than logic and clear thinking.
Combining experience with non-emotional decision-making is the real value in hiring the right DBA lawyer.
If you want to know more about hiring a DBA Lawyer check out this article on the Top 10 DBA Questions (see Questions 2,3, 4, and 6....)
Contractors that are injured while they are abroad while they are working at U.S. Embassies and Consulates can make a claim for benefits under the Defense Base Act
The United States has nearly 300 U.S. Embassies and Consulates in hundreds of countries around the world. An embassy is generally located in capital cities and is the headquarters for US Government representatives serving in foreign countries. Consulates are “branches” of US embassies necessary for larger countries.
U.S. Embassies and Consulates are occupied by the Ambassador (a.k.a. Chief of Mission) along with many civilian workers and contractors who are essential for the maintenance, safety, construction, and overall operations of the embassy. The law offers protection under the Defense Base Act for these contractors and their families in the event of an injury or death that arises out of their employment.
According to the US Department of State website, another purpose of an embassy is “they help U.S. businesses find partners and customers and may train the host government’s police and military to support better security in the country”. This is the area that we seem to get most case traffic from in reference to our DBA clients and their cases.
Contractors injured at a U.S. Embassy – here’s what you should know
If you were injured as a civilian contractor working at any U.S. Embassy abroad, you are entitled to benefits under the Defense Base Act (DBA). Benefits under the DBA include medical treatment and compensation for wage loss. Benefits owed to an injured contractor- or their family if a contractor is killed - are paid for by the employer’s DBA worker’s compensation insurance carrier.
Benefits under the Defense Base Act are not strictly limited to just U.S. citizen; even workers of foreign nationality who are working under a private U.S. government contract are covered under the DBA. Regardless of nationality, U.S. citizen or not, obtaining DBA benefits can be difficult for many.
Please note that if you are directly employed by the United States of America (as opposed to a civilian contracting company) – then you don’t have a Defense Base Act claim.
In order to have a Defense Base Act claim, is it true that don't have to be injured while your at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate or while you're actually working? (the Zone of Special Danger rule)
Yes. Under the Defense Base Act, you don't have to be injured while actually working or while you're at the U.S Embassy or Consulate in order to bring a DBA claim. The DBA has a rule called "the Zone of Special Danger." This rule or doctrine states that you just about any injury or disease that you get while your overseas or abroad is covered by the Defense Base Act.
Even recreational injuries, injuries while working out, playing sports, exercising and touring as a tourist - while you are overseas are usually covered by the Defense Base Act.
For example, if you're abroad and you're injured while working out or playing soccer, then you can still bring a claim under the DBA. If you're injured in a taxi accident while you're sightseeing, then you still have a DBA claim. If you slip and fall while you're are a grocery store in a foreign country, then you still have a DBA claim.
Thus, if you're working as a contractor - even if you're from the country where you were hurt (or a U.S. citizen or a citizen from some other country) - you need to consult with an honest DBA lawyer. You probably have a DBA claim.
Beware: DBA Insurance Companies Tricks & Traps
One of the main reasons DBA claims are denied is because injured folks aren’t aware of what they are entitled to under the DBA and they don’t know the law. What makes matters worse is that they are up against the DBA Insurance Companies who prey on this fact. The truth is, DBA Insurance Companies are not on your side. Meaning, they make money by denying legitimate DBA claims like yours.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you have a legitimate claim, with a serious injury that you will automatically receive Defense Base Act benefits. At every step of your case, the insurance company is looking for reasons to deny your case. They have tricks and traps that they will use against you.
Know this, the DBA insurance company is going to attack your credibility. You can depend on that. Everything you do, from here on out, must be with you keeping your credibility in mind.
You must tell the truth
The most important factor that may “make or break” your case is whether the judge believes you or not. Nothing is more important than your credibility. Nothing else comes close.
You must tell the truth about everything. Don't lie, don't exaggerate. If the Judge doesn't believe you – trust you will lose.
Win Your Defense Base Act Case
The reason I wrote my book - Win Your Defense Base Act Case – is to help you avoid the common mistakes outlined above and to better equip you with the resources you will need to win.
In my book and on this website, I provide answers to many of your most common questions about the DBA. I give you real material that you can use to help you win your U.S. Embassy private contractor Defense Base Act case.
You can get a free copy of my book here; I would highly recommend you do so. You can also opt to buy it on Amazon.com, it’s up to you. I suggest you read my book before you sign any forms, talk to a representative from the DBA Insurance Company, give a recorded statement, or hire the wrong lawyer.
What benefits am I entitled to under the Defense Base Act?
Generally, if you're injured and bring a DBA claim, the Defense Base Act has two benefits:
1. Medical treatment. You are entitled to medical treatment, by a doctor (or doctors) of your choice. You can receive these medical treatment until you are cured, or for the rest of your life, if necessary.
2. Weekly disability benefits. If you are temporarily unable to return to work due to your injuries you may be eligible to receive temporary total disability benefits. If you have a permanent injury, you may be eligible to receive permanent disability benefits. In some instances, for the rest of your life. Or, you can settle your DBA claim with a lump-sum settlement.
There are two types of injuries under the Defense Base Act - Scheduled injuries. Which are injuries to your legs, feet, arms, hands, hearing loss, eyes. Generally, with these injuries, you are entitled to a certain number of weeks of compensation.
Unscheduled injuries are injuries to any other parts of your body - neck, back, head, internal injuries, brain, psychiatric injuries, PTSD, etc. With these claims your permanent disability is based upon your wage loss.
Case Studies - Defense Base Act claims - Embassy Workers and Consulate Workers
Your next steps
First, you need to get your hands on your free copy of my book. Seriously. I don't blame you if you are skeptical. I suggest you go to amazon.com and type into the search area: "Defense Base Act." You will see my book - Win Your Defense Base Act Case come up. I suggest you read the reviews. Then you will know why you MUST get my book.
Next, you should start documenting your case, so that you can help your attorney. Whether you hire us or another DBA law firm, you need to do your research and hire the best, honest DBA lawyer that you can find.
Lastly, check out this article on the Top 10 Questions on the DBA.
Case Studies - DBA claims for contractors injured while abroad working at U.S. Embassies and U.S. Consulates
A U.S. citizen was injured while working as a construction worker at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing China. He fell down and injured his back. The Claimant (this is what you call the person bringing a DBA claim) was able to get his case resolved successfully.
A Case Study - A Zone of Special Danger case - a U.S. Embassy worker - gets a tattoo and takes over the counter medication and dies of an overdose - was deemed to be within the Zone of Special Danger under the Defense Base Act
Need help right now?
Give us a call at: 619-304-1000 or you can send us a message on this website.
The United States Embassies and Consulates around the world – by continent
If you are injured while abroad when your working as a contractor at any of the missions, embassies and/or consulates for the United States of America, then you probably have a DBA claim. Here is a list of missions, embassies and/or consulates that you may have worked at that give rise to a DBA claim:
U.S. Missions in African Countries
U.S. Embassy in Luanda, Angola
U.S. Embassy in Cotonou, Benin
U.S. Embassy in Gaborone, Botswana
U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura, Burundi
U.S. Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon
U.S. Embassy in Praia, Cape Verde
U.S. Embassy in N'Djamena, Chad
Democratic Republic of the Congo
U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo
Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
U.S. Embassy in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
U.S. Embassy in Djibouti, Republic of Djibouti
U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt
U.S. Embassy in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea
U.S. Embassy in Asmara, Eritrea
U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
U.S. Embassy in Libreville, Gabon
U.S. Embassy in Banjul, The Gambia
U.S. Embassy in Accra, Ghana
U.S. Embassy in Conakry, Guinea
U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya
American Embassy Maseru, Lesotho
U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia
U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo, Madagascar
U.S. Embassy in Lilongwe, Malawi
U.S. Embassy in Bamako, Mali
United States Embassy Nouakchott, Mauritania
U.S. Embassy in Port Louis, Mauritius
U.S. Embassy in Rabat, Morocco
U.S. Embassy in Maputo, Mozambique
U.S. Embassy in Windhoek, Namibia
U.S. Embassy in Niamey, Niger
U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria
US Mission to Rwanda, Kigali, Rwanda
U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal
United States Embassy Freetown, Sierra Leone
U.S. Virtual Presence Post Somalia
U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa
U.S. Embassy in Mbabane, Swaziland
Embassy of the United States of America in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
U.S. Embassy in Lome, Togo
U.S. Embassy in Tunis, Tunisia
U.S. Embassy Kampala, Uganda
U.S. Embassy in Lusaka, Zambia
U.S. Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe
U.S. Missions in Countries of the Americas and the Caribbean
U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina
U.S. Embassy in Nassau, Bahamas
U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados
U.S. Embassy in Belize City, Belize
U.S. Consulate General in Hamilton, Bermuda
U.S. Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia
U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil
Consulate General Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Consulate General São Paulo, Brazil
U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, Canada
United States Consulate General in Toronto, Canada
U.S. Consulate in Winnipeg, Canada
U.S. Embassy in Santiago, Chile
U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia
U.S. Embassy in San José, Costa Rica
U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Cuba
U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
U.S. Embassy in Quito, Ecuador
U.S. Consulate General in Guayaquil, Ecuador
U.S. Embassy in San Salvador, El Salvador
U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City, Guatemala
U.S. Embassy in Georgetown, Guyana
U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras
U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica
U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, Mexico
United States Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez
U.S. Consulate General, Guadalajara
U.S. Consulate Hermosillo Consulado General de los Estados Unidos - Monterrey
U.S. Consulate Nogales
United States Consulate Nuevo Laredo
Consulado General Americano Tijuana, B.C.
U.S. Mission to the Dutch Caribbean: Curacao
U.S. Embassy in Managua, Nicaragua
U.S. Embassy in Panama City, Panama
U.S. Embassy in Asuncion, Paraguay
U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru
U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo, Suriname
Trinidad and Tobago
U.S. Embassy in Port of Spain
U.S. Embassy in Montevideo, Uruguay
U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela
U.S. Missions in Asian Countries
American Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan
U.S. Embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh
U.S. Embassy Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
U.S. Embassy Rangoon, Burma (Myanmar)
U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China (People's Republic)
U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu
U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou
U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong and Macau
U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai
U.S. Consulate in Shenyang
U.S. Consulate in Wuhan
Taiwan, Republic of China
American Institute in Taiwan - Taipei, China (Republic)
U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India
US Consulate in Calcutta
U.S. Consulate, Chennai
United States Consulate Mumbai
U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia
U.S. Consulate General in Surabaya
U.S. Consulate in Medan
U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan
U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka
U.S. Consulate Nagoya
U.S. Consulate General in Osaka-Kobe
U.S. Consulate General Sapporo
U.S. Consulate General Naha, Okinawa
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)
U.S. Embassy in Seoul, Korea (Republic)
Lao, People's Democratic Republic
U.S. Embassy in Vientiane, Laos
U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal
U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan
U.S. Consulate General Karachi
U.S. Consulate Lahore
U.S. Consulate Peshawar
U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines
U.S. Embassy in Singapore
U.S. Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka
U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand
U.S. Consulate General Chiang Mai
U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam
U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City
U.S. Embassy in Yerevan, Armenia
U.S. Embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan
U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia
U.S. Embassy in Almaty, Kazakhstan
U.S. Consulate General in Almaty
U.S. Embassy Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic
U.S. Embassy Dushanbe, Tajikistan
U.S. Embassy in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
U.S. Embassy in Manama, Bahrain
U.S. Embassy Baghdad, Iraq
U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel
U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan
U.S. Embassy in Kuwait City, Kuwait
U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon
U.S. Embassy in Muscat, Oman
U.S. Embassy in Doha, Qatar
U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Consulate General Dhahran
Consulate General Jeddah
U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria
United Arab Emirates
U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
U.S. Consulate General in Dubai
U.S. Embassy in Sana'a, Yemen
U.S. Missions in Australia and the Pacific
U.S. Embassy in Canberra, Australia
Consulate General of the U.S. Melbourne
Consulate General of the U.S. Perth
Consulate General of the U.S. Sydney
U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji
U.S. Embassy in Majuro, Marshall Islands
Micronesia, Federal States of
U.S. Embassy in Kolonia, Micronesia
U.S. Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand
U.S. Embassy in Koror, Palau
Papua New Guinea
U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
U.S. Embassy in Apia, Samoa
U.S. Virtual Presence Post Tonga
U.S. Missions to European Countries
United States Embassy Tirana, Albania
U.S. Embassy in Vienna, Austria
U.S. Embassy in Minsk, Belarus
U.S. Embassy in Brussels, Belgium
Bosnia and Herzegovina
U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria
U.S. Embassy in Zagreb, Croatia
U.S. Embassy in Nikosia, Cyprus
U.S. Embassy in Prague, Czech Republic
U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark
Denmark-Greenland: VPP Nuuk
U.S. Embassy in Tallinn, Estonia
U.S. Embassy in Helsinki, Finland
U.S. Embassy in Paris, France
American Presence Post in Bordeaux
American Presence Post in Lyon
American Presence Post in Rennes
American Presence Post in Toulouse
U.S. Consulate General Marseille
U.S. Consulate General Strasbourg
U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Germany
U.S. Consulate General Düsseldorf
U.S. Consulate General Frankfurt
U.S. Consulate General Hamburg
U.S. Consulate General Leipzig
U.S. Consulate General Munich
U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece
U.S. Embassy in Budapest, Hungary
U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik, Iceland
U.S. Embassy in Dublin, Ireland
U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy
U.S. Consulate General Florence
U.S. Consulate General Milan
U.S. Consulate General Naples
San Marino Virtual Presence Post
U.S. Embassy in Riga, Latvia
U.S. Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania
U.S. Embassy in Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Macedonia, Rep. of
U.S. Embassy in Skopje, Macedonia
U.S. Embassy in Valetta, Malta
Moldova, Republic of
U.S. Embassy in Chisinau, Moldova
United States Consulate in Podgorica, Montenegro
U.S. Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands
U.S. Embassy in Oslo, Norway
U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, Poland
U.S. Consulate General Krakow
U.S. Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal
American Consulate Ponta Delgada, Azores
U.S. Embassy in Bucharest, Romania
U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russian Federation
U.S. Consulate General St. Petersburg
U.S. Consulate General Vladivostok
U.S. Consulate General Yekaterinburg
U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, Serbia
U.S. Embassy in Pristina, Kosovo
U.S. Embassy in Bratislava, Slovakia
U.S. Embassy in Ljubljana, Slovenia
U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Spain
U.S. Consulate General Barcelona
U.S. Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden
XXU.S. Embassy in Berne, Switzerland
U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey
U.S. Consulate General Istanbul
U.S. Consulate Adana
U.S. Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine
U.S. Embassy in London, United Kingdom
United Kingdom: Belfast
United Kingdom: Edinburgh
United Kingdom: VPP Cardiff
Vatican City State (Holy See)
U.S. Mission to the Vatican
Disclaimer: Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, case studies, endorsement and/or discussion does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation and/or this particular case/ situation.
Every case is different. There are any number of reasons why Defense Base Act cases are lost and/or are not successful. However, most DBA cases are lost because the Judge doesn't believe the person bringing the DBA claim.
The case studies here are for illustrative purposes only. Any resemblance to actual cases is purely coincidental. That being said, we have handled hundreds of DBA cases over the years and these case studies are taken from those experiences, situations and/or analysis.
Thanks, Bill Turley