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Your Essential Guide to the War Hazards Compensation Act

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The War Hazards Compensation Act - what you need to know if an overseas civilian contractor

injured in a war theater.


“I give you an insider’s view of the DBA and the War Hazards Compensation Act. I don’t sugar coat it for you. I give it to you straight. No lawyer talk, no double talk. Just good old fashioned, unsweetened truth.”
Defense Base Act Lawyer Bill Turley

Why should I hire a DBA lawyer? 

This is a really good question.

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. 

I strongly suggest that you check out this article on the Top 10 Defense Base Act questions. (Question No. 2, on the list, and be sure to check Out Questions No. 3, 4 and 6, which are also about hiring a DBA lawyer).  

The World Can Be A Dangerous Place

In truth, it was always dangerous, but there was great hope that the risks of conflict would melt away after the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. Yet a decade later or so, American military forces were engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Government contractors and civilian service workers followed troops into the greater Middle East and found themselves in a land beset by governmental collapse, ethnic warfare, and terrorist violence.

The situation isn’t much better elsewhere in the world. U.S. civilian contractors are at severe risk in parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America; it’s just that the incidents of violence aren’t publicized as often as those in the Middle East.

The federal government already has a workers’ compensation program, the Defense Base Act, to provide a way for some civilians hurt while working abroad as contractors on U.S. projects to receive some help.  While you might have heard a tad about the DBA, you might not have heard as much about the War Hazards Compensation Act.

My name is Bill Turley.  My law firm is the largest DBA law firm on the west coast and one of the top two largest DBA law firms in the world that represents seriously injured overseas civilian contractors.  We know the DBA. We deal with War Hazards Compensation Act cases week in and week out.


An Introduction to the War Hazards Compensation Act

The War Hazards Compensation Act (WHCA) was originally passed in 1942 as a way to complement the Defense Base Act. It has a broader reach than the Defense Base Act, however, and provides coverage to:

  • Any worker who would otherwise qualify under the Defense Base Act, but is ineligible to receive benefits for some reason.
  • Any civilian employee working under a federal government contract overseas who is taken prisoner, taken as a hostage, or otherwise detained.
  • A civilian employee working under a federal government contract overseas who is injured or killed due to a war hazard. War hazards included armed conflicts between military forces (possibly including U.S. military forces); the discharge or explosion of munitions intended for use in war or armed conflict; the collision of aircraft or water vessels in convoy or operating without normal navigation aids; and the operation of aircraft or water vessels in war zones or zones of hostility.

The War Hazards Compensation Act provides many layers of benefits to eligible workers. Unlike the Defense Base Act, however, those benefits aren’t generally paid by employers or their insurance carriers; instead, they are paid directly from federal funds set aside for this purpose. If an employer or insurance company pays these benefits anyway, it can be reimbursed by the federal government.

The benefits provided under the War Hazards Compensation Act include:

  • Medical care benefits similar to those given by the Defense Base Act.
  • Disability income benefits similar to those given by the Defense Base Act for those unable to work because of their injuries.
  • Death benefits similar to those provided by the Defense Base Act.
  • Detention claims for people taken prisoner or detained by military forces.


Do You Need an Attorney for a War Hazards Compensation Act Claim?

Because the injured person seeking benefits isn’t necessarily in conflict with an insurance company—a pattern that is very common for Defense Base Act claims—it’s not always absolutely essential to hire an attorney for your War Hazards Compensation Act claim. However, there are three reasons why you  need to hire an experienced WHCA attorney right away:

If nobody recognizes you’re eligible under the War Hazards Compensation Act.

The WHCA is a fairly uncommon byway of the law. If you don’t hire a lawyer, or if the lawyer isn’t up to speed on overseas injury claims, you might lose access to benefits that should be yours—and lose money that could be in your pocket.

If the government tries to claim you belong to a group you’re excluded from receiving benefits.

There are several categories of people who can’t claim WHCA benefits, ranging from foreign citizens who are entitled to benefits paid by another country to people convicted of subversion against the United States. If the federal government tries to deny your claim on this basis, you need a lawyer pronto.

If your injuries resulted from a terrorist act.

The War Hazards Compensation Act doesn’t specifically mention acts of terrorism, and precedent law isn’t yet clear on this area. If you have been hurt because of a terrorist act, your attorney should be prepared to argue that your injury qualifies under a specific provision of the WHCA.



The Big Picture

What is going on here?  With a WHCA case, the DBA insurance carrier is trying to shift the liability for your injury over to the Division of Federal Employers Compensation (DFEC).  The DBA insurance carrier is trying to get reimbursement for the DBA benefits paid to you and get the DFEC to take over future payments of your benefits.
The DBA insurance carrier is trying to secure a Compensation Order then send a “fully-documented” Application for War Hazards reimbursement to the DFEC. The DBA insurance carrier is going to need to provide proof that your injury was caused a “war-risk hazard.”  So, they are going to need either a deposition of you or a statement from you.  And, I generally don’t like statements.  Thus, you really need a lawyer to navigate this.
Assuming that your claim is accepted as a War Hazards case, then you’re medical treatment goes from the DBA system to the Federal Employee’s Compensation Act (FECA) system. 20 C.F.R Section 204.
The War Hazards Act imports Section 8 (DBA disability benefits) and Section 9 (death benefits to determine the compensation benefits. Meaning, they are the same as provided by the DBA.
There is no minimum limit on average weekly wages on which death benefits are to be computed and disability benefits are computed.
In death benefits claim, the funeral expenses are paid in accordance with Section 9 (DBA death benefits) and the DFEC may pay additional sums for the repatriation of the decedent’s remains.
For claims involving foreign citizens, the DOL may commute all future installments by paying to them one-half of the amount for the future installments. 42 U.S.C. Section 1701(c).

What’s all this War Hazards stuff mean to me?

You might be asking yourself, that’s all well and good - but what does all of this mean to me?
I’m going to tell you the good, with the bad. So here goes, with some not so good.
The FECA workers compensation is supposed to be a non-adversarial system, but anyone who has filed a claim knows that is not true.

Here are some problems that I've heard of with the FECA.

First, you have no right to judicial review. Unlike the DBA system, if you're medical is denied, you aren't going to get to try and convince a judge to award you medical treatment.
Second, you will have constant review by the OWCP employees who are trying to terminate your benefits.
Third, there are reports of excessive delays in taking actions and making decisions.
Fourth, there are reports of difficulty communicating with and getting info from the OWCP.
But, other than that, it's all rosy. Piece of cake. A walk in the park.
But, that being said, you do get as many chances as you want at trying to change their mind with additional evidence, to try and get them to change their decision. Sort of squeaky wheel approach, it seems.


Winning with the truth

Being honest with everything related to your case with everyone you interact with can be more challenging than it sounds. It may sound crazy but it happens all the time. People think that exaggerating details or dramatizing their injury will help them win their case. It just doesn’t work and it falls into one of the clearest traps that the DBA insurance company and their lawyers put out.

The DBA insurance company know that if a claimant has solid credibility they will win their DBA cases. They also know that they can make a lot of money if they delegitimize your claim. So, they will try to make you out to be a liar in front of the judge. If they are successful then they win.

I don’t want them to win. I want you to win because you don’t just want those DBA benefits, you need those DBA benefits. You need to be prepared for whatever the DBA insurance company and their lawyers throw at you. You need to put aside your frustration, your fear and your pain and present your case honestly and clearly.

To do that you are going to need to start studying. Find out when and where all the traps are going to be laid out for you by reading Win Your Defense Base Act”. This book will show you were the traps are and what do in order to side-step them.


Be sure to claim your free copy of the 5 Star Book Win Your Defense Base Act Case 

Win Your Defense Base Act Case by Bill Turley

This is an eye-opening book that gives you an insider's view of the Defense Base Act and how to beat the DBA insurance company. This book will take you step by step on how to avoid the DBA insurance company tricks and traps that are designed to destroy your DBA claim. 

If you do one thing - you owe it to yourself to read the 5 Star reviews of the book on amazon.com!!

5 Stars on Amazon.com

I suggest you read my book - Win Your Defense Base Act Case before you talk to the insurance adjustergive a statementsign any forms or even hire the wrong lawyer.


Check out a few of the great 5 Star reviews on amazon.com

oscar Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars
This book is a no nonsense book. It givres ...
September 12, 2017

This book is a no nonsense book. It gives you the true ins and outs of a dba case. If you want the truth about dba cases and the do's and dont's then this is your book.


Ammon Ra
5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent source of info!!
August 8, 2017

This book completely lays it out for you. It's simple, succinct and not written in confusing legal jargon. If you are injured while contracting, this should be the first thing you read. The DBA carriers are counting on your ignorance and need. This book helps you combat pushy adjusters and answers what you can and cannot expect from your claim. Don't go in unarmed!!


Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars
July 28, 2017

This book is a must-have if you have been injured while working as a DoD contractor overseas. Easy to read, straight ahead, and loaded with invaluable advice! DBA cases can be very challenging and Mr. Turley ensures the reader understands every step in the process. He does not hold back in addressing any conceivable challenge which can potentially pop up during the course of your case. I simply followed the advice in the book and was eventually successful in winning my case against a powerful insurance company.



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Or leave us a message on this webpage.


This article isn't legal advice
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.
Just because we have gotten great results in so many other DBA cases, doesn't guarantee in particular result in other cases. Including, case. Every case is different.
William Turley
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“When I seek out professional advice, I don’t want B.S., I want it straight up. I figure you do also.”
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