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What is the Defense Base Act?


The Defense Base Act (DBA) covers contractors and subcontractors who are working under a U.S. government contract — either overseas or on a U.S. military base — to be eligible for workers’ compensation protection. In the event of an injury, illness or death, contracted individuals or their family members (in the event of death) are entitled to benefits under the Defense Base Act. Filing a DBA claim can be complex, and the slightest mistake could cost you the benefits you deserve. Here’s what every U.S. government contractor needs to know.

Who is Covered Under the Defense Base Act?

The DBA covers many types of contractors who work for private employers on U.S. military bases within the U.S. as well as overseas. Civilians working overseas who perform the following types of employment activities are covered under the Defense Base Act:

  • Civilians who work for private employers on U.S. Military bases or lands used by the U.S. for military purposes outside of the U.S. (this includes U.S. Territories).
  • Public work contracts with U.S. government agencies including construction and service contracts connected to national defense or war activities overseas.
  • Contracts approved and funded by the U.S. under the Foreign Assistance Act.
  • Civilians who work for American employers, providing welfare services outside of the U.S. in the interest of the armed forces. For example, the USO.

Contractors and subcontractors include, but are not limited to the following occupations:

  • Aviation workers
  • Communication and Telecommunication workers
  • Construction workers
  • Education workers
  • IT technicians
  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Medical Workers
  • Social workers

The Defense Base Act Claims Process

Filing a DBA claim can be a daunting task for anyone who is not well-versed with how the law works. A claim for DBA benefits must be filed with the Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs (OWCP), within one year from the date of injury. Here are some tips for injured contractors who need to file a DBA claim:

Report Your Injury Immediately to Your Supervisor.

Make a list of witnesses to the accident that caused your injury - it’s essential to get all witness information such as names, addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers - especially if the witness does not live in the U.S. It may be difficult to contact witnesses once you return to the U.S. without this information.

Seek Medical Attention for Your Injury

If you’ve been treated for your injury while out of the country it’s important to have a diary of the following information:

  • Name of hospital and doctors
  • Types of medical treatment received
  • Obtain all copies of medical records before returning to the U.S. This includes x-rays, MRI’s and other medical diagnostics that are needed for your DBA claim.
  • Your employer is responsible for submitting Form LS-202 (Employer’s First Report of Injury) with the OWCP within 10 days of sustaining the injury.

Defense Base Act Benefits

Contracted workers are allowed the following benefits under the Defense Base Act:

  • Medical treatments
  • Permanent disability benefits
  • Death benefits for spouses and children of the deceased
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Compensation for partial loss of earnings

Contrary to popular belief, The Defense Base Act covers PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as well as other psychological issues.

Why It’s Critical To Retain an Attorney with a Defense Base Act Claim

A Defense Base Act claim can be extremely complicated, and dealing with it on your own will not only be stressful but could cost you an approval. Insurance companies are notorious for denying claims, and you’ll need an attorney you can trust to fight for the benefits you deserve. Not every workers’ compensation attorney has the experience with Defense Base Act claims, so it’s crucial to ensure you enlist the help of one who does. Having a DBA attorney on your side can help relieve you of stress and burdens so you can concentrate on healing from your injuries.

If you need assistance with filing a Defense Base Act claim, we can help. As a workers’ compensation law firm, The Law Office of George P. Escobedo & Associates, PLLC is proud to represent eligible contract employees of the government in San Antonio as well as throughout the United States. Contact us today at (210) 807-3178 for more information about how we can help you with your Defense Base Act insurance claim.

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