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The Turley & Mara Law Firm, APLC

Does the Defense Base Act Prevent You from Seeking Civil Damages in Court?

The Defense Base Act was created as a very specific form of workers’ compensation for overseas contractors. Not only does the DBA cover wage compensation and medical costs after a work-related injury, it also removes the burden of proof from the accident victim.

If you are covered by the DBA, it does not matter who is at fault for your injury, as long as the injury was caused or aggravated as a result of your overseas employment.

Unfortunately, the “no-fault” nature of the DBA system has a downside. In exchange for access to medical treatment and disability benefits, DBA workers are barred from filing civil lawsuits against their employers after an accident. However, there are a few circumstances where workers may file suits to recover damages for their injury costs.

When Should I Consider Filing a Civil Lawsuit for a DBA Injury?

Workers can pursue claims for civil damages after a DBA injury in cases of:

Employer Misconduct:

Contractors are allowed to sue their employers if they have been the victims of misconduct or illegal activity, such as racial discrimination or sexual harassment. Workers can also sue their employers if the employer does not have DBA insurance.

Contractor Liability:

While you are barred from suing your employer, you are able to sue a party other than your employer that is legally responsible for your injuries. Contractors, sub-contractors, and other companies that work alongside or for your employer may be held liable for your injury costs.

Another Person’s Negligence:

If a coworker or other person was to blame for causing your injury, you can pursue a third-party DBA case to recover pain and suffering, loss of earnings, and loss of enjoyment of life.


In most cases, DBA benefits amount to much less than the damages awarded in civil court. Civil damages can include large amounts of money to compensate victims for lost income and "pain and suffering".

But if this is you, you will also have to take on the burden of proof and risk losing the case. For more information on what to do after your accident, check out my book, Win Your Defense Base Act Case.

This is the go-to resource for any civilian contractor that has been injured while working overseas and you can get it here for FREE. 

William Turley
“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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