"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
What Is A Statute Of Limitations?
A statute of limitations puts a cap on the amount of time that can pass between the time of your Defense Base Act injury until when you file your Defense Base Act claim. In other words, you only have a certain amount of time to bring your DBA claim, or you may be barred from obtaining DBA benefits.
Defense Base Act Statute Of Limitations
While there are two statute's of limitations under the Longshore Act/ Defense Base Act; the one year statute of limitation is the one you really need to be concerned about. In order to protect your rights you need to file your claim within one year of your date of injury.
The Longshore Act states that the time for filing a claim shall not begin to run until you (or your beneficiary) are aware, or by the exercise of due diligence should have been aware, of the relationship between the injury or death and the employment.
A claim under the Act accrues if you know or should know that the injury is work related, and you know or should know that the injury will impair your earning power. This is the appropriate standard for measuring the timeliness of claims filed under the Defense Base Act.
The One Month Statute
There is a one month statute of limitations. While I do recommend that you file a claim within the one month, if you can, I don't think you should lose sleep about it, if you missed the one month.
Again, if you are within the month, I suggest that you have a seasoned DBA lawyer file the claim for you.
The Presumption Is Powerful
Most Defense Base Act claims are presumed to be timely. This is very important. Because the 20(b) statutory presumption applies to the timeliness of a claim under the Defense Base Act.
Thus, only by producing substantial evidence, can the DBA insurance company successfully raise a statute of limitations defense under the Defense Base Act. Substantial evidence is evidence that a "reasonable mind" would find adequate to support a particular finding or conclusion. It might be more appropriate to refer to a "reasoning mind" rather than a "reasonable mind" because the inquiry requires evaluation of the judgment used arriving at a finding or conclusion, not the ultimate correctness-or "reasonableness" of that finding.
This is powerful. Again, understand the significance of this. If you are credible and the judge believes you, then you will get the 20(b) presumption in your favor. When you have this presumption, it is a rare case where the employer (read: Defense Base Act insurance company) will prevail. The take away point here is always tell the truth. Because if you do tell the truth, the Judge will presume your claim is valid and compensable.
Tolling your statute of limitations
If you have been receiving DBA benefits from the DBA insurance company, the statute of limitations has been tolled while you are getting benefits. Meaning you have the one month or the one year to file your DBA claim from the time you stop getting your DBA benefits.
What Does This All Mean?
If you don't file a claim within the one year statute of limitations, the Judge will excuse the lack of timely filing if the Judge concludes you did not have enough information, from your employer, the insurance company, your doctors or other sources, to realize you would have a permanent loss in earning capacity.
Don't dilly or dally
I suggest that you don't sit around and wait to file your Defense Act claim. You should be jumping on it right now. Even if you're still getting your DBA benefits. You should lawyer-up now and file your claim.
But... what could happen if I hire a DBA lawyer?
I know what you might be thinking. Will the adjuster get mad at me if I hire a lawyer?
Will my benefits get cut off if I get a lawyer?
Or how much will getting a lawyer cost me? All great questions. Here is a great article that unpacks these questions about hiring a Defense Base Act lawyer and more.
The bottom line
The first thing I suggest that you do is get a copy of my 5 Star book - Win Your Defense Base Act Case. The seasoned thing you should do is find the best, honest Defense Base Act lawyer that will agree to take your case. I suggest you have your lawyer file your Defense Base Act claim for you.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed. Learn more about the DBA law system in an easy to understand way by getting a FREE copy of my book, Win Your Defense Base Act Case here.
This is a MUST READ book on the Defense Base Act
What you are going to see is that the book Win Your Defense Base Act Case 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.
I suggest that you MUST read my book, before you make one of the common mistake that folks make that ends up tanking their DBA case. This includes, don't talk to the DBA insurance adjuster, sign any forms, sign any releases, give a written or recorded statement, go the defense doctor medical examination, attend a Labor Market Survey or do anything else case related - including, hiring the wrong lawyer. Just stop everything until you get my book.
We will UPS it to you if you absolutely think you have to do something (that you're really going to end up regretting later).
This article is not legal advice. Just because we have had a lot of great results in Defense Base act cases is certainly not a guarantee of any particular result in your case. Every case is different. Every situation is different. As I say repeatedly, "Don't try this at home!" You should retain the best, honest Defense Base Act lawyer that will agree to take your case.