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The Turley & Mara Law Firm, APLC

Spinal Cord, Quadriplegic and Paraplegic injuries Under The DBA

Defense Base Act Spinal Cord Injuries

If you or a loved one are a civilian defense contractor and have a serious spinal cord injury that was caused by their work overseas; the injury is covered under the Defense Base Act.  This means that your spinal injury can entitle you to medical and financial benefits.

The first thing you have to do is get medical treatment. Your and your family’s first concern is getting you better and back on your feet as quickly as possible.

Under the Defense Base Act, you have a right to what is called a free choice of physician. This basically means that you are allowed to get treated by whatever doctor you choose.

You have to first make a request from the Defense Base Act insurance company for authorization for such treatment. You should always make your request in writing. You can email a request to the Defense Base Act insurance company and then send a copy to yourself in order to prove that you did so.

Picking your doctor is extremely important. Their word can make or break your DBA case. So, you have to make sure that they are on your side.

Know this: The doctor recommended by the DBA insurance company is not on your side. He/She does not want you to win your DBA case and thus are not a good person to see for your injury.


Spinal Cord Injuries and Permanent Disability

Spinal injuries under the Defense Base Act are labeled as “unscheduled injuries”. Permanent disability under the DBA for unscheduled injuries is a wage loss concept. You need to compare your Average Weekly Wage before your injury to your Average Weekly Wage after your injury.  In other words, you are comparing your pre-injury earnings to your post-injury earnings.

When you are talking about a serious spinal injury, you are almost always going to have a permanent and total disability.

But, this doesn’t always mean the insurance company is going to agree to pay you the maximum compensation rate. DBA insurance companies may fight your Average Weekly Wage, which may have a big impact on your disability benefits.



Quadriplegia is caused by damage to the cervical spinal cord segments at levels C1-C8. Damage to the spinal cord is usually caused by an injury to the spinal vertebrae in the cervical section of the spinal column. The injury to the structure of the spinal cord is known as a lesion. This may result in the loss of partial or total function in all of the arms and legs.



Paraplegia due to a spinal cord injury results in an impairment in motor or sensory function of the lower half of a person's body. The condition occurs due to damage to the cellular structure of the spinal cord within the spinal canal.

The area of the spinal cord which is affected in paraplegia is either the thoracic, lumbar, or sacral regions of the spinal column.

One of the leading causes of paraplegia from damage to the spinal cord is trauma.


Life Care Plans - The Devil is in The Details

When severe spinal cord injuries are litigated under the Defense Base Act, you might think of evidence as a poker game.  While in this instance I don’t mean to refer to DBA trials as “games of chance” that is not altogether untrue.  

However, in this instance I am talking about poker in the sense of burden of proof. You are going to need convincing evidence in order to prevail in your obtaining all the medical treatment that you need to treat your spinal cord injury.

So here think about the ranking of hands. For example, in poker a Royal Flush outranks four of a kind. What you are going to need is an extremely detailed and thought out Life Care Plan based upon strong medical testimony. This will be your Royal Flush, so to speak.

In order to not weaken your position on really important parts of the Life Care Plan, you need to consider not claiming relatively weaker items (read: less supportable components) in the Life Care Plan.

Each part of the Life Care Plan requires meticulous support with testimony, documents and the like.

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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