As the outsourcing of work to contractors by the U.S. government becomes increasingly prevalent, and as the United States has grown more involved in global military efforts, the need to protect contractors has become more important. In many instances, the work performed by contractors involves high-risk activities, including transportation, security, and logistics. Although the work performed by some government contractors is less hazardous in nature, the location of such work, including areas such as Afghanistan and Iraq, may potentially put workers at risk. Many workers remain unaware of their rights and are not even aware that benefits are provided to them under U.S. laws, even when the contractor is working overseas. The work performed by contractors in support of the U.S. military overseas is of critical importance to America. When a contractor is injured on the job, the Defense Base Act protects that worker. A DBA attorney can also help to protect the rights of workers.
What is the Defense Base Act?
The Defense Base Act is designed to provide specific coverage for individuals who work on U.S. military lands or bases utilized by the United States for military purposes. In addition, the DBA covers any individual who works under U.S. Foreign Assistance Act contracts, public works contracts with U.S. government agencies, and individuals who work to provide services to support the U.S. Armed Forces. The DBA is applicable to a worker regardless of his or her nationality.
Covered employees who are injured or killed during the course of employment are provided with medical, disability, and death benefits under the Defense Base Act. Coverage applies regardless of whether the incident actually occurred during work hours. An experienced Defense Base Act lawyer works to ensure the rights of covered employees are protected. Individuals who believe they may have been wrongfully denied medical and/or compensation claims are encouraged to contact an attorney.
The Defense Base Act contains numerous complex legal distinctions, which is why it is important to seek the advice of experienced DBA lawyers. For instance, all employers of contractors and workers who meet certain requirements are required to provide said employees with workers' compensation coverage under federal law. In the event an employer does not adhere to this requirement or pay the required full amount, the injured employee may bring a lawsuit against the employer for damages. In the event of the worker's death, his or her family may sue the employer. The employer is not allowed to plead that the employee assumed the risk of injury or death upon acceptance of the job, another employee's negligence, or that the injury occurred as a result of the employee's own negligence. Defense Base Act attorneys will ensure workers are protected in such instances.
An experienced attorney can also explain that employers may also face jail time and/or fines if the employer is not able to cover the cost of an employee's injury. Employers found guilty of violation of a federal law under the Defense Base Act may be found guilty of a misdemeanor and could be charged with up to one year in prison, up to $10,000, or both.
Generally, workers who are injured on the job are required to provide written notification to their employer within 30 days of the injury occurring. Official claims must be filed within one year of the incident. As a DBA lawyer will explain to workers, it is vital to keep this time-frame in mind. Failure to adhere to these rules could mean a denial of benefits. If you have questions about this time-frame, you are urged to contact a lawyer for contractors immediately. A contractor lawyer will be happy to explain the requirements of the DBA.
A History of the Defense Base Act
The Defense Base Act originated in 1941, just after the United States began an expansion of military bases overseas as a way of preparing for possible war with Germany and Japan. As a way of ensuring that civilians supporting those efforts overseas were protected in the event of injuries, the U.S. Congress established the Defense Base Act. Originally, the law was only intended to serve as a temporary measure during the war. As such, the DBA was only 2,000 words in length. Under the original law, contractors employed overseas were required to purchase insurance similar in nature to the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, which had been passed in 1927.
Regardless of where in the world a contractor may work, if he or she is injured overseas while performing work for the U.S. government, he or she may be eligible to receive benefits. Covered workers who are denied benefits or who have questions about benefits are encouraged to seek the advice of a contractor lawyer. DBA attorneys can explain the entire process.
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Who Is Eligible for Benefits under the Defense Base Act?
Experienced DBA attorneys can explain there are several criteria under the Defense Base Act under which a contractor may be eligible. Individuals who meet any of the following criteria and who are injured as part of their work are covered under the Defense Base Act. Such individuals are covered regardless of nationality.
Workers employed for a private employer on any land the U.S. utilizes for military purposes or overseas U.S. military base.
*Some limitations apply as there are certain territories that are specifically excluded from DBA coverage that would otherwise qualify. If you have questions about where you are working, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation*
Individuals who work overseas on a public works contract for any federal agency that is included in war activities or national defense activities.
Persons who work abroad under a U.S. government approved and funded contract. This includes but is not limited to the sale of military services and equipment to U.S. allies.
Individuals who perform work on behalf of the USO or any other organization or company that provides welfare and moral support to the military overseas.
If you have questions about your potential eligibility under the Defense Base Act, do not hesitate to contact lawyers for contractors with specific experience in the DBA. Lawyers for contractors can answer any questions you may have, including questions regarding whether your work qualifies you for coverage under the DBA.
What Sort of Injuries and Claims Are Eligible?
Among the most common questions that many people have for Defense Base Act attorneys are what types of injuries and claims the DBA covers. Covered individuals who are injured are entitled to receive paid disability compensation, medical care, temporary and permanent partial disability, rehabilitation, and temporary and permanent total disability. In the case of a deceased covered worker, death benefits are available to the immediate family members of that worker.
In many ways, the benefits provided by the Defense Base Act are similar to those of regular workers' compensation. It is important to keep in mind that benefits are available regardless of whether or not the injury occurred while the worker was actually working.
When a covered worker arrives back in the United States, he or she is entitled to select his or her own physician.
Permanent and temporary disability benefits allow covered workers to receive 2/3 the amount of his or her average weekly wages up to a maximum amount.
Death benefits amounting to ½ the worker's average weekly wages at the time of his or her worker was not married and had no children, death benefits are paid to the worker's nearest family relation.
Experienced Defense Base Act lawyers are proactive and aggressive in their fight against any insurance company that wrongfully denies the claims of an eligible worker. Far too frequently, contractors working overseas in support of U.S. military efforts suffer devastating injuries. An experienced lawyer understands how to fight insurance companies that wrongfully deny such claims. Furthermore, a good Defense Base Act attorney will work to find all possible methods of compensation for injuries.
As a time limit does apply to benefits, eligible contractors are urged to speak to a lawyer experienced in handling these types of claims immediately. If you have been injured or if your medical benefits have been denied or cut off by an insurance carrier, it is important to contact a lawyer to begin the process of learning more about your DBA benefits. Even if you are not sure whether you may be eligible, contact a DBA lawyer right away.
The technical requirements and filings related to a Defense Base Act claim can be complex and time-consuming. During a time in which you are concentrating on recovering from an injury, you and your family need to focus on your complete healing. A lawyer for contractors experienced in handling DBA claims can handle all of the relevant paperwork and requirements associated with filing a claim on your behalf.
Contractors employed overseas on behalf of the U.S. government and in support of U.S. military efforts deserve every protection that is available. The Defense Base Act is designed to ensure that protection is provided in the event of an injury or the tragic death of a contractor working overseas. Do not delay in learning more about the benefits afforded to you under the Defense Base Act from an experienced lawyer for contractors.
Contact us with any questions you have about your case, or just about the Defense Base Act in general.
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