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The Turley & Mara Law Firm, APLC

Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to your questions about the Jones Act, DBA, California workers’ compensation, or employment law. If you have more questions, contact us.

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  • Are the payments I get from the DBA special fund lifelong benefits?

    Yes, as long as there is no
    change in disability status

    Many people are concerned about the length of time they can receive disability benefits through the Second Injury Fund (the Special Fund). Generally speaking, if you collect permanent total disability (PTD) or permanent partial disability (PPD) through this fund, your DBA special fund benefits can last the rest of your life as long as there is no change in your disability status.

    However, most employees will go through periods of injury improvement or worsening disability, both of which can affect a number of their benefits. Your employer or insurer may petition for a modification of your award based on a change in your condition, causing an increase, decrease, or termination of your payments. A few common situations where an employee’s benefits may be modified include:

    Temporary Disability:

    Employees collecting PPD benefits may require treatments, rest, or surgery that will leave them temporarily unable to work. During this time, the employee should be considered totally disabled, and his employer or insurance company should modify his benefits to temporarily increase his payments. Temporary disability is paid by the employer, not through the Special Fund.

    Worsening disability:

    Unfortunately, some employees who receive PPD benefits will suffer a deterioration of their conditions, making them permanently unable to earn a living. If your injury gets worse to the point where you can no longer work, you must apply for permanent total disability benefits through the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP). You must have proper evidence of the change in your condition, such as past medical records, recent medical evaluations, and your doctor’s recommendations and work restrictions. You should also send this information to your employer or insurer to let them know there will be a modification in the amount and type of benefits you receive.

    What If My Employer Unfairly Modifies My DBA Benefits?

    You, your employer, and your insurer may all submit requests to modify a number of your benefits. If one party does not agree to the proposed changes or termination of benefits, you may request an informal conference to decide the matter or get advice from a longshore attorney on how to proceed. To find out more about getting maximum payment for a DBA injury, read through a free copy of our guide, Win Your Defense Base Act Case.

    Here are some of the 5 Star Reviews from amazon.com 

    Amazon Customer
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Your DBA Case could not be in better hands. Get this Book!
    May 3, 2016

    If you are injured doing contract or military work overseas then I am telling you now to get this book. This book is the bible of winning a damn near impossible case and will stop you from being ripped off or taken advantage of by the DBA system. This book saved me from making grave mistakes that I was completely oblivious to and those mistakes would have cost me my case. So before you do or say anything,Change Your Future - please take the time to read this book.


    Mr. S G
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    5 out of 5!
    May 9, 2017

    WIN YOUR DEFENSE BASE ACT CASE: Is an absolute MANDATORY read for anyone searching for information on anything DBA. This book has examples of past case studies, it also goes over the entire DBA Claim process from start to finish, the bottom line here is that its an absolute necessity for anyone that could be starting a DBA claim. The information that you'll receive within WIN YOUR DEFENSE BASE ACT CASE: is priceless and theres no way you will regret making this purchase.


    5.0 out of 5 stars
    True Guide to Success!
    January 21, 2016

    I can say with all honesty that without Mr. Turley’s Law Firm and without his skillfully written book, I would have been lost and could never have succeeded with my DBA case against that powerful insurance company. I am forever grateful.


    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Turley's book is clearly written and an easy read. Highly recommended for anyone covered under DBA ...
    February 20, 2017

    In fact, I suggest buying a copy of the book immediately and reading it if you are covered under DBA and are either deployed or facing an upcoming deployment. It is better to be armed with information regarding DBA coverage and claims process prior to being injured.


    Need help right now?

    Call us today at (619) 234-2833


  • Is my Defense Base Act injury claim confidential?


    an Employer who Shares Protected Information with Anyone Beyond Certain Pertaining Parties Could be Subject to Legal Action.

    Many contractors who are injured overseas are concerned about what will happen to their careers if they file an injury claim. For this reason, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) provides specific protections to allow workers to collect Defense Base Act (DBA) benefits while respecting a worker’s privacy.

    3 Questions About DBA Case Confidentiality Answered

    Who can see my DBA case file?

    Your employer, the employer’s insurance carrier, and administrators at the DOL may access your case file only for matters relating to your claim. In addition, you can receive one copy of your case file for your own records free of charge. Under the Privacy Act of 1974, the DOL cannot release any claim information to additional parties without written authorization from the claimant.

    With whom can my employer share information about my injury?

    Your employer has to share some information about your accident with the company insurance agent in order to process your DBA payments. Your employer may also be required to release certain details to the DOL and has the option of discussing the case with an attorney. An employer who shares protected information with anyone beyond these parties could be subject to legal action.

    What if my employer retaliates against me for filing a claim?

    Under the provisions of the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA), it is illegal for an employer to terminate, demote, or discriminate against any employee for filing an injury compensation claim. It is also illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee who is giving testimony in an LWHCA hearing. Employers can only terminate or refuse to hire an employee who has a history of willfully filing false injury or benefit claims.


    The Terms of Your DBA Settlement May Also Be Confidential

    In some cases, workers can pursue legal action for unpaid DBA benefits and keep the details of the settlement confidential. To find out more about getting maximum payment for a DBA injury, read through a free copy of our guide, Win Your Defense Base Act Case.


    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 all of the 5 Star Reviews on amazon.com 

    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Powerful Book
    February 28, 2017

    This is a very good book! If you or someone you care about might think they have a Defense Base Act case then you need to buy this book. This book is straight forward no BS. This is the most info available about the process dealing with DBA that I have ever found. I personally use it and have gone through the DBA process from beginning to end and I can tell you this is spot on. Mr.Turley actually cares about the people that have gone overseas healthy, risking their lives and came back injured in some form or fashion. He cared so much that he wrote this book! This book is a valuable tool to take on the DBA!


    5.0 out of 5 stars
    True Guide to Success!
    February 21, 2016

    If you work or plan on working as a contractor overseas, then make it your mission to obtain a copy of Mr. Turley’s (author) book, called “Win Your Defense Base Act Case,” and keep it on you at all times – because you will need it!


    Stephanie L. Winter
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Injured overseas? Very first step is to get this book. A must read in a very important time of your life.
    July 29, 2015

    So I start to read this book. Part one, second paragraph I get the warm fuzzy that I might have the answers I needed to guide me through this crippling time in my life. And I can understand the words as it is written in a simple and straight to the point manner. Every page I learned something that I didn't know. And every page made me feel that there might be light at the end of this tunnel. A warm fuzzy. There are answers to questions I didn't even think to ask. Any question you may have is answered in this book. If you are an injured contractor, my first piece of advice is to read this book. My second is to get a second copy for your spouse. They see the pain and they are equally as stressed and need answers too. I hope this review helps you through your life changing journey to get you what you deserve and on the road to recovery.


    Need Help Today?

    Give us a call at (619) 234-2833


    Disclaimer: Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, 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. 

  • What are the rules for “reporting time pay” in California?

    Any Time an Employee is Required to Show Up to Work Should Be Considered Paid Time

    Under California Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) Orders, employers must pay employees for unworked (but regularly scheduled) time, also known as reporting time. Simply put, any time an employee is required to show up to work should be considered paid time, even if he is not given a sufficient amount of work to cover all hours.

    Under the rules of reporting-time pay in California, if an employee is required to report to work, but performs less than half of his or her usual workload, the employee must be paid for at least half of the scheduled day’s work at his or her normal pay rate. In addition, employees cannot be paid for less than two hours on a day of reporting, regardless of the time worked.

    However, employers are not required to compensate employees for reporting time under the following exceptions:

    • If work operations are interrupted by threats to employees or property.
    • If civil authorities recommend that work be suspended.
    • If public utility services are interrupted, shutting off electricity, water, gas, or sewer service in the workplace.
    • When work is interrupted due to an act of God, such an earthquake or other natural disasters.
    • If the employee has reported but is not fit to work.
    • If the employee reported to work later than his scheduled time and was fired or sent home as a disciplinary action.
    • If the employee is compensated on paid standby status.
    • If the employee’s regularly scheduled shift is less than two hours.

    Wage Theft Is More Common Than Most Employees Realize

    If you don’t know your rights, it is easy for an employer to take advantage of you. In our free guide, The Ultimate Straight Talk Guide To Getting Your Hard-Earned Wages Back, we explain how employers can nickel and dime employees out of their paychecks, resulting in thousands of dollars worth of lost compensation. Download your copy today to get the facts on California wage violations.

    A No B.S. straight-shooter lawyer

    Believe it or not, Bill is known for being a no B.S. straight-up lawyer. Besides being known as one of the leading experts on this area of the law in California, one of the reasons why Bill is asked to testify at legislature hearings is because he is known for being straight-forward and blunt. He is known for being no B.S., with no lawyer-talk, no double-talk. 

  • Is “donning and doffing” required to be paid for by a California employer?


    In order to perform their work effectively, many employees are required to wear special clothing, such as hats, boots, aprons, and other equipment. Depending on the job, it can take over 10 minutes to put on and take off required clothing before and after each shift or breaks. In some cases, employers may insist that this “donning and doffing” be done on the employee’s own time.

    However, California employers can be compelled to pay workers for any pre- or post-shift activities that take place in service of the employer, even if the employee has not begun his principal work activities. Any tasks that are considered to be essential to the employee’s principal work activity should be compensable as part of an employee’s weekly pay, including:


    Police officers, doctors, mechanics, and other professionals who are required to wear uniforms should be paid to do so on-premises, especially if their work activities require a change of clothes mid-shift.

    Safety Gear:

    Some workers need to wear safety gear for the full duration of their shifts, such as food service workers or biochemical engineers. In many cases, the protective equipment needed takes several minutes to put on and take off, and doing so at home could compromise both the safety and sterility of the uniform. Any changing of clothes that cannot be done at home without posing a threat to the worker or work environment must be paid for by your employer.

    Shift Overlap:

    Some employees are required to report earlier than their scheduled start times in order to orient themselves about the day’s events. Nurses may be required to talk to the previous shift nurse to document medications taken by each patient, while waiters often arrive early to memorize daily specials and taste dishes to describe them to customers. Employees are often told that this time is required, but is not paid—leading to hundreds or thousands of lost wages over the course of an employee’s career.

    Preliminary Duties:

    There are occasional instances where an employer will require a worker to be on the premises early in order to unlock doors, sign for a delivery, or meet a visitor. If you arrive earlier than your usual shift to “open up,” make coffee, answer e-mails, take calls, schedule appointments, or anything else for your employer, your paid time begins when you begin work—regardless of when others arrive.

    Donning and Doffing Can Lead to Overtime Violations

    A full-time employee who has been docked pay for pre- and post-shift work could be entitled to a significant amount of overtime pay. Learn more about California wage violations in our free guide, The Ultimate Straight Talk Guide To Getting Your Hard Earned Wages Back

    California's leading wage lawyer

    Californias leading wage lawyer

    We are not saying this to brag. We are telling you this so you will know that Bill knows what he’s talking about.  Bill Turley represented the workers in the leading California Supreme Court case on California unpaid wages law - Brinker vs. Superior Court. 

    Bill wrote the winning briefs in the recent California Supreme Court cases - Augustus vs. Superior Court (the leading case on rest breaks) and Williams vs. Superior Court (the case that gives you the right to getting the names of your co-employees in a PAGA case). 

    Bill is regularly asked to testify before the California State Senate and the California State Assembly on unpaid wages law.  Bill helped write the recent changes to California's unpaid wages PAGA laws.

  • What’s the difference between “nature” and “extent” of a Defense Base Act disability?

    You have to know the rules

    If you are going to be successful in any game, you first need to understand the rules. This is as true for the game of Monopoly, Chess and football. It's also true with Defense Base Act court cases.  Yes, a Defense Base Act case is a court case. At the end of the day, if you can't get your case settled, then you are going to have to take your case to court, and hopefully, win. 

    The first step in understanding the rules is first understanding the terminology. In this article I discuss "Nature and Extent of Disability."  After reading this article, I'll bet you know more about what these terms mean than 90% of the lawyers on the Internet that call themselves "Defense Base Act Lawyers." 

    "Nature" Deals With the Duration of Time; "Extent" Deals With the Degree of Injury

    There are four different categories of disabilities that are covered under the Defense Base Act (DBA): permanent total disability, temporary total disability, permanent partial disability, and temporary partial disability. Each of these classifications carries two important pieces of information: how long you are expected to be disabled, and the extent of your injury.

    Defense Base Act Nature and Extent of Disability - by Nationally acclaimed Defense Base Act Lawyer - Bill Turley

    Difference Between the “Nature of Disability” and “Extent of Disability”

    The nature of your disability covers the duration of time that you are expected to be disabled (the temporary or permanent classification). 

    The extent of your disability, however, is slightly more complicated. The extent of your disability concerns the degree of the injury (total or partial), but also the degree to which you are able to successfully function.

    Generally speaking, the extent of your disability is the difference between what you earned as a DBA worker (read: your average weekly wage) and your post-injury earnings. This is because disability under the Defense Base Act for unscheduled injuriedsis based upon a wage loss concept. 

    Your compensation will also depend whether you have suffered a scheduled or unscheduled injury under Defense Base Act law. Scheduled injuries may involve the leg, arm, hand, foot, or hearing loss. If you have injured one of these body parts, your disability award is based upon a schedule.

    If you have injured another body part, your injury is considered unscheduled. Common unscheduled injuries include the back, neck, spine, shoulder, head, or internal organs. Psychiatric trauma is also considered to be an unscheduled injury. Unscheduled injuries are based upon a wage loss concept rather than a set schedule for compensation and will depend on whether or not you are able to return to your usual and customary DBA employment.


    The big picture

    If you're reading this, then my guess is that you have a Defense Base Act case. And it's my guess that you trying to figure out more about the Defense Base Act and your case. I know that I often will go on the Internet and try to get answers to questions I have on stuff that I am trying to research.  I figure you do also.

    I strongly suggest that you check out my book,  Win Your Defense Base Act Case. There really is nothing like it out there.  I suggest that you go to amazon.com and check out all of the 5 Star reviews of my book.  There are dozens of 5 Star reviews of the book on amazon.com.

    What you are going to see is that the book is packed with insider information that will help you win your case. The big picture here is that now that you are injured you have a court case. You can depend on the DBA insurance company attacking you, your character and credibility. It's how they roll. They will do all of that in order to keep from paying you the money benefits that you are entitled to under the law.

    One of the key and important parts of this book is helping you to navigate the minefield that the DBA insurance company is going to lay out to destroy your case. What you probably don't know is that the DBA insurance company has tricks and traps that folks just like fall for every day.  You might be thinking, "I have a legitimate case, I'm telling the truth, I'm good." However, that isn't the case. Not even close. 

    Based on having represented overseas civilian contractors for years and having had one of the two largest DBA practices in the the world that represents folks like you - - I would strongly suggest that you reconsider.  I strongly suggest that you read my book before you talk to the insurance adjuster, sign any forms, or even hire an attorney.

    Need Help Today?

    Get a FREE copy of Win Your Defense Base Act Case, here. It will go through step by step what you need to do to win your DBA case and get you benefits sooner. 

    Or you can call us right now at 619-234-2833.

  • What is a Notice of Controversion, and how does it affect my Defense Base Act case?

    If you have received a LS-207 Notice of Controversion, then things are not going well for you. Most likely the LS-207 is the bearer of bad news. Your Defense Base Act benefits are being stopped, or decreased in some manner. Not good. 

    In this article I answer the following questions (and more) on LS-207 Notice of Conbtroversion:

    What is a LS-207 - - Notice of Controversion?

    Why should I read the fine print on the LS-208 Notice of Controversion?

    The Defense Base Act insurance company sent me a Notice of Controversion - what should I do?

    What should I do if Defense Base Act insurance company stopped my benefits? ....Why is this is no time to dilly-dally?

    What is a “get in line and wait” system with the DBA? 

    Why is it a good time to lawyer-up? 

    Why do I need to be ready?

    What is the biggest problem with DBA claims (it sucks, but it's the way it is)?

    It really sucks 

    What do I really need to do?

    What is some more bad news on the Notice of Controversion?

    What is a LS-207 - - Notice of Controversion?

    An LS-207 Notice of Controversion is a form. But this form can, and usually will, cause you a lot of problems.

    Under the Defense Base Act, the employer (read: the DBA insurance company) is supposed to file an LS-207 - - Notice of Controversion when they cut off your Defense Base Act benefits.  Or whenever they deny your claim.

    It is called “LS” because of “Longshore.”

    "207" is the form number.

    If the DBA insurance company is not providing you with weekly compensation benefits (i.e. a weekly compensation check), then they will usually file a LS-207 - Notice of Controversion with the US Department of Labor and you will be sent a copy.


    Why should I read the fine print on the LS-208 Notice of Controversion?  

    The LS-207 will usually state the reasons why the Defense Base Act insurance company is denying your benefits. Read it carefully. Your job is to marshal the evidence in your case to overcome the reason(s) why the insurance carrier is denying your Defense Base Act claim.

     If the DBA insurance company has sent you an LS-207 - Notice of Controversion, you need to make sure you read it and get the documentation necessary to overcome the reasons why the DBA insurance company is denying your claim.


    Defense Base Act - Notice of Controversion - what should I do?  Bill Turley explains the Defense Base Act

    "Answers to your Defense Base Act questions in simple, easy to understand English. No legal mumbo-jumbo, lawyer talk. Ever.”  

    Defense Base Act Lawyer - Bill Turley - author of the "must have" 5 Star Book - Win Your Defense Base Act Case

    The Defense Base Act insurance company sent me a Notice of Controversion - what should I do?

    This is a very common question. The simple and easy answer:  it's time to lawyer-up.

    It's time to find the very best Defense Base Act Lawyer you can. However, I realize you might want more than advice than "Hire a good Defense Base Act Lawyer." While this is the best advice I can give you - I will also provide some candid insight. Read on.


    What should I do if Defense Base Act insurance company stopped my benefits? ....Why is this is no time to dilly-dally?

    You need to immediately take action. Remember, I told you to read the LS-207 and see what the reason is that the DBA insurance company stopped your benefits?  That is a good place to start. You need to obtain evidence to rebut or counter whatever what the DBA insurance company is saying the reason is for cutting off your DBA benefits. 

    You need to get the evidence needed to win your case. Now. 

    For example, a well written doctor’s report, that says your injury/ disability was caused and/or aggravated due to your being overseas.

    Next, you need to immediately request an Emergency Informal Conference.  Then you must have Recommendations issued by the OWCP claims examiner. Then you must file a LS-18 in order to get a trial scheduled. I discuss this in  more depth in this article.


    What is a “get in line and wait” system with the DBA? 

    The quicker you get your case to the Judge's office and start waiting in line for your trial and then your Decision and Order, the quicker you will get your weekly disability benefits, medical treatment, etc. Sometimes once you get the necessary documentation (i.e., a medical report), the DBA insurance carrier will start providing you with weekly compensation benefits.  Oftentimes, the threat of a trial will get the DBA insurance company to provide benefits or settle cases. This all can take a very long time. Months or even years. Depending.  This is why you need to jump on this right now. 

    Why is it a good time to lawyer-up? 

    If this has happened to you (that is having an LS-207 Notice of Controversion filed by the DBA insurance company) , right about now would be a good time for you hire the best DBA lawyer you can find. Hey, know this - hiring a DBA lawyer doesn't have to be painful or stressful - and it shouldn't be.

    Why do I need to be ready?

    In other words, you need to prepare today for the DBA insurance company cutting off your Defense Base Act weekly benefits or not approving needed medical care. This is the number one reason why you need to lawyer-up before your benefits are cut off. If you get an LS-207 Notice of Controversion in the mail - - don't wait - immediately hire the best Defense Base Act Lawyer you can find. This is how the DBA insurance company tells you they are denying your claim.

    What is the biggest problem with DBA claims (it sucks, but it's the way it is)?

    The biggest single problem with the DBA / Longshore system is that there is no deterrent to prevent insurance companies from denying claims. All the insurance company has to do is to file an LS-207 Notice of Controversion and they can stop providing you benefits that there is nothing to stop them from doing this.

    All the DBA insurance carrier has to do is file an LS-208 Notice of Controversion and there is nothing that you or the Judge can do about it under the law.  They type “Investigating the claim.”  And the law says that is a perfectly fine reason for the DBA insurance company to deny your claim, even if you have the most rock-solid evidence to support your claim.

    It really sucks

    Me telling you that this is the way it is, is far better than me trying to blow smoke up your skirt. My job is to tell you the way it is. I'm all about telling you the truth. And this all sucks. There is no two ways about it. You need to know the way the system works. 

    Don't mistake this harsh reality with me suggesting that you should give up on your case. Far from it.  You're way to fight this is for you to put together (read: marshal) the best evidence you can in order to prevail in your case.

    What do I really need to do? 

    I realize I am being a little simplistic here and I explain all of this in more depth in my 5 Star book - Win Your Defense Base Act Case.

    Click here for the 5 Star  amazon.com reviews of my book.

    What you're going to see is my book is the very best investment you can make in your DBA case.  You can get a copy for free on this website or go to amazon.com and pay for it.  Before you dismiss this idea, go to amazon.com and check out the dozens of 5 Star reviews.


    What is some more bad news on the Notice of Controversion?

    Under the law, the DBA insurance company can deny your claim and/or cut off your benefits for just about any reason they want. It doesn't have to be a good reason. Or even a truthful reason. They can and will cut off your benefits at any time. In order for it to be "legal" they just have to file a Notice of Controversion. 


    Disclaimer: Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, 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. 

  • How do I know if my job is covered by California’s Wage Order Number 9?

    California's Wage Order Number 9 Covers Transportation Industry Employees

    Wage Order Number 9 applies to workers in California’s transportation industry. The term “transportation industry” is used to refer to any business or establishment that carries persons or property from one place to another by road, rail, air or water. It includes all operations and services connected with the transport of persons and property, including storage and warehousing and the parking, repair, maintenance, cleaning, and rental of vehicles.

    Industries Covered by California’s Wage Order Number 9

    Air Transportation

    • Airlines
    • Air delivery services
    • Airplane maintenance companies
    • Baggage handling companies

    Ground Transportation

    • Ambulance services
    • Armored car services
    • Bus lines
    • Car rental agencies
    • Car washes (non-retail)
    • Courier services
    • Garages that are not operated by a car dealer or gas station
    • Garbage collection services
    • Limousine services
    • Logging trucks (commercial)
    • Moving and storage companies
    • Package and parcel delivery companies
    • Parking garages and parking lots
    • Storage garages
    • Taxi services
    • Tire aligning and balancing companies
    • Tour buses
    • Tow trucks
    • Transportation companies
    • Truck rentals
    • Trucking companies
    • Trucking companies (agricultural)
    • Vehicle repair
    • Vehicle maintenance businesses
    • Warehouse and storage facilities

    Water Transportation

    • Boats
    • Boat rentals
    • Cruise ships
    • Ferries
    • Ship rentals
    • Ship repair
    • Stevedores
    • Water taxis

    Rail Transportation

    • Railways

    Truck drivers, delivery drivers, and commercial drivers are covered by California’s Wage Order Number 9, yet these workers rarely get the rest breaks and meal periods guaranteed by state law. This is because employees don’t always understand their rights.

    If you think you have a California wage and hour case, make sure that you choose an experienced attorney. Attorneys who don’t specialize in truck, delivery and commercial driver law may undervalue your claim because they don’t understand California’s wage and hour law and how it applies to drivers.



    Listed as amicus counsel on over 20 California Supreme Court cases 

    Bill is listed as amicus counsel on over 20 California Supreme Court cases and Bill wrote two winning amicus briefs for important recent wage cases before the California Supreme Court.

  • What are the rules governing overtime wages in California?

    Federal Law requires employers to pay overtime wages to any eligible worker who works more than 40 hours in a workweek (168 consecutive hours). Overtime pay is paid at a rate no less than one and one-half times the regular pay rate (time and a half). California overtime rules build on federal laws, but there are significant differences.

    California's 8-hour Workday

    One important difference between California overtime law and federal overtime law is California’s 8-hour workday. In California, non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay when they work more than eight hours in a single day. The worker must be paid time and a half for the extra work.

    There is an exception:  California employers may offer an alternative workweek. For example, a dental office may ask its hygienists to work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days in order to offer evening appointments. Employees must be given a chance to vote on the alternative schedule. The schedule must be approved by two-thirds of the employees in the affected work unit. In this case, the employees could work up to ten hours without receiving overtime.


    California's 12-hour Double-Time

    Eligible employees who work more than 12 hours in a single day, are entitled to receive twice their regular rate of pay for those work hours.


    California's 40-hour Work Week

    Both federal and state laws require payment of overtime wages to employees who work more than 40 hours in a 7-day work week. This rule applies to any period of 168 consecutive hours.


    California's 7th Consecutive Day Rule

    A California employee who works for seven consecutive days in a single workweek, is entitled to time-and-a-half overtime for the first eight hours worked on the seventh workday.


    Are You Covered by California’s Overtime Laws?

    There are exemptions to California’s overtime law. Workers who receive a salary that is at least twice minimum wage ($10.50 per hour) are exempt from overtime. The worker must also qualify as an exempt professional, exempt executive, or exempt administrator. Firefighters, police officers, government employees, and certain computer professionals are also overtime exempt.

    If an employee is misclassified as overtime exempt, his employer must pay the employee any unpaid overtime as well as penalties, interest and attorney’s fees.

    If you believe that you are owed overtime, contact a skilled California wage and hour attorney. The attorney will be able to tell you if your employer owes you money.



    Representing workers all over California

    Bill Turley has a State-wide practice. While his main office is in San Diego, he has offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and Bakersfield. Bill handles cases for workers all over California. 

  • How are my disability benefits calculated under the Defense Base Act?

    Calculating disability benefits under the Defense Base Act
    “I give you an insider’s view of Defense Base Act Law, with no sugar coating. No lawyer talk, no double talk. Ever." 

    Defense Base Act Lawyer - Bill Turley

    Compensation is Based on Average Weekly Wage

    If you are injured while working as an overseas civilian contractor and you're unable to do your job for three days or longer, you are eligible for disability benefits under the Defense Base Act (DBA). These benefits are paid to you 14 days after your employer is notified of your injury. So, make sure you let your employer know that you were hurt and are unable to work. You will need to do this in writing using form LS 201.

    There are four types of disability compensation benefits under the DBA:

    1. Temporary Total
    2. Temporary Partial
    3. Permanent Total with annual increases
    4. Permanent Partial

    Regardless of whether your disability is partial or full, temporary or permanent, your compensation is based on your average weekly wage or AWW. All compensation is subject to a Maximum Compensation Rate, which is adjusted each year on October 1. The current rate is $1,436.48 per week.

    Temporary Total Disability (TTD): Temporary total disability is granted if your injury leaves you completely unable to work for a short period of time. TDD benefits equal two-thirds of your AWW for the period that you are unable to work.

    Temporary Partial Disability (TPD): A person is considered to have a temporary partial disability if he is able to work, but cannot work as many hours as usual or must do a lower-paying job.  TPD benefits are calculated as 2/3 of the difference between the employee’s AWW and his earnings while partially disabled.

    Permanent Total Disability (PTD): Permanent total disability benefits are awarded when an injury leaves you unable to work for an indefinite period of time. PTD calculated as two-thirds of your AWW. Permanent disability benefits are subject to an annual increase based on the U.S. national average weekly earnings. The adjustment is applied on October 1 of each year. Permanent disability benefits are payable as long as the disability continues.

    Permanent Partial Disability (PPD): If you have a permanent partial disability, you are able to work, but you may be unable to do your former job.  There are two ways PPD is calculated. If you have a scheduled disability, you will receive a percentage of your AWW for a predetermined period of time. The percentage is based on your disability rating. If you have an unscheduled disability, you will receive 2/3 of the difference between your AWW and your current earnings.

    There is a whole lot to chew on here

    I am giving you an overview here. I suggest you claim your free copy of my book Win Your Defense Base Act Case for more detail on all of this. 

    First of all, calculating your disability under the Defense Base Act is not as straight-forward as it may first appear. 

    You are going to need to calculate your average weekly wage. Or AWW.  AWW is probably the most heavily litigated part of the law in this area. Maximizing your average weekly wage (you can read more about it here) is critical for you to get the most benefits as possible under the DBA.

    You are going to need to use the correct compensation rate (you can read more about it here). 

    The DBA is wages driven. Meaning, the higher your wages the more money compensation you are entitled to under the law.Because of this, the DBA insurance company is going to try and calculate your AWW as low as possible.

    Generally, your AWW is going to be 2/3's of your earnings (your wages).

    Scheduled vs. Non-Scheduled

    You have to determine whether you have a scheduled or a non-scheduled injury.

    If you have a scheduled injury, then you multiply your compensation rate times the number of weeks under the AMA Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment.  A case study is provided below. 

    I suggest that you visit the articles that I have provided links to in order to put all of this together.

    Non-scheduled injuries are based upon a wage loss concept.


    Calculating your disability for a scheduled injury - a case study - Steve with a leg injury that occurred in Afghanistan 

    I will provide an case study for Steve, who worked in Afghanistan as a security expert. Steve has a leg injury.  Steve has an AMA Impairment for the lower extremity (read: leg) of  38%. 

    Under the Longshore Act a leg injury is  288 weeks. 

    288 weeks times 38% =  109.44

    You always need to calculate Average Weekly Wage.  Steve has an AWW of  $3,219.45 a week.  Steve has a maximum compensation rate of $1510.76.

    109.44 weeks times $1,510.76 =  $165,337

    Calculating your disability for a scheduled injury - a case study - Tim with a back injury that occurred in Afghanistan

    I will provide an case study for Tim, who worked in Afghanistan as a security consultant. Tim has a back injury, that prevents him from returning back to work overseas. 

    DBA Insurance company's AWW contention

    There is a major dispute over Tim's AWW because he worked overseas for only 23 weeks before he was injured. The DBA insurance company contends that using the 52 weeks before his injury, that Tim has a AWW of  $1,284.25.  


    DBA insurance company's position on extent of disability/ loss of wage earning capacity

    The DBA insurance company gets a Labor Market Survey that indicates that their is suitable alternate employment for Tim in the area where he lives, where Tim can earn $1,034 a week. 

    Thus, using the DBA insurance company's AWW and Labor Market Survey the calculation is as follows: 



    $   250.25 

    $ 250.25 times 2/3 =  $166.83 

    Admission of injury 

    The DBA insurance company  "admits" that had a back injury. Meaning that the insurance company takes the position that Tim really was injured. Which is difficult to contend otherwise considering the incident report and all the witnesses that say that they saw Tim get injured when he was diving for cover during a rocket attack and Tim was grimacing in pain dn holding his back immediately afterwards). 


    In addition, as usual, the DBA insurance company is taking the position that Tim is "malingering."  Which is a fancy term to say that Tim is faking his injuries. The insurance company doctor is suggesting that Tim is not really as injured as Tim's doctor concludes and that Tim is really able, medically, to return to work as a security consultant. Thus, the DBA insurance company's position is that Tim is able to return to his usual and customary employment with no wage loss.

    Unfortunately, as is sometimes the case, there is evidence that supports this malingering contention. Medically, the insurance company reads the back MRI as not "conclusive" that Tim's back is, in fact, painful.  That is the problem with pain. It is difficult to prove pain. The insurance company conducted some sub-rosa videos, which show Tim taking out the trash, doing lifting while working on cars, and working out at the gym. 

    If the Judge credits the insurance company's contention in this regard, Tim will be awarded no permanent disability benefits. 

    Alternate position 

    But if the Judge believes that Tim can't return to work, then it is the DBA insurance company's position that Tim has a loss of wage earning capacity of $166.83 a week. 

    Tim's AWW contention

    Tim contends that only his overseas earnings should be used in calculating his AWW, and thus he has an AWW of $2,854.56. 

    Tim's position on extent of disability/ loss of wage earning capacity

    Tim, of course, strongly disagrees with the insurance company's contentions, on just about every level.  Tim's treating physician has opined that Tim is unable to return to his usual and customary work.  Tim's doctor also agrees that Tim can do limited activities such as taking out the trash, doing limited lifting.  In fact, he suggested to Tim that Tim get back into the gym and try and strengthen himself.  However, all of this is a far cry from working in a war theater, in full kit, and having the ability to carry out your co-workers if someone get's injured.  

    In fact, all of these activities are in the contract for security consultant. 

    It is Tim's contention that the best evidence of his wage earning capacity is the job he is actually doing as real estate appraiser earing  $725 a week. Tim can demonstrate that he was relentless in looking for work in the area where he lives and $725 a week is good money, considering his education, training, skills and his injuries. 

    Thus, Tim's loss of wage earning capacity is as follows: 

      $ 2,854.56

     -$    725.00

      $ 2,129.56

     $ 2,129.56 x 2/3 =  $1,419.69 

    Thus, Tim contention is that he is owed $1,419.69 in permanent partial disability benefits 

    Bottom line

    This give you a good idea of how this all plays out in a DBA case. I have been simplistic in order to achieve clarity. But, I think you get the idea. 

  • How is a vessel defined under Jones Act law?

    Any American Owned Watercraft That Can be Used to Transport Goods or Passengers can be Considered a Jones Act Vessel.

    The Jones Act offers legal protection for maritime workers who are injured while in service to a Jones Act vessel. Among the most important of Jones Act protections is the right to directly sue an employer when injuries are caused by the employer’s negligence. Other workers do not have this right.

    To qualify as a Jones Act vessel, a vessel must be owned by an American individual or company.  For a maritime worker to be considered a Jones Act seaman, he must be the master or a member of a Jones Act vessel’s crew. How do you know if you work on a Jones Act vessel?

    There are many ways to work on the water. While it is easy to recognize a cruise ship or barge as being a vessel, it is harder to decide if an offshore drilling rig or floating dormitory meets that definition.   

    In 2005, the Supreme Court (Stewart v. Dutra Construction) determined that under the Jones Act, the definition of vessel may include “every description of Watercraft or other artificial contrivance used or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water.”  This means that any watercraft that can be used to transport goods or passengers can be considered a Jones Act Vessel.

    Under this definition, it is easy to recognize cargo ships, supply boats, tankers, freighters, fishing boats, ferries, cruise ships, tugboats, and barges as vessels. But offshore drilling units, jack-up rigs, semi-submersible rigs, dredges, docks, and floating work platforms may also be considered vessels under some circumstances.

    The definition of a Jones Act vessel can be a deciding factor in determining the outcome of a Jones Act injury case. If you have any questions about whether you qualify for Jones Act protection, contact a California maritime lawyer.



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    Disclaimer: Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, 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.

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