A private contractor working for the federal government is required to hold special workers’ compensation insurance. The most common type of coverage is the Defense Base Act (DBA). Holding this insurance is not just a requirement of the job, but a guarantee that those injured while working for the government get the compensation they deserve.
Who Needs DBA?
The following groups are required to have DBA coverage. These coverages apply regardless of nationality so long as the contractor is working for the US federal government.
· Working for contractors on US military bases or areas occupied by the US military outside the country.
· Employees contracted for public work related to national defense, including contracts in war activities outside the US.
· Contractors are selling equipment or services to US allies under the Foreign Assistance Act.
· Employees are providing welfare services for US military forces, such as USO.
Simply put, if you are a contracted civilian working for the US government overseas, you’re required to hold DBA coverage. As coverage is mandatory, your employer is required to inform you when you will need to sign up.
What Does DBA Cover?
DBA is a type of workers’ compensation. It covers expenses in the event of injury, illness, or even death resulting from a work-related event. Here’s what you can expect from DBA benefits:
Treatment: If you are injured or fall ill while on the job, the government will allow you to go to your preferred care provider. This can be extremely helpful if your normal insurance restricts you to in-network providers. Additionally, the government covers medical treatment for as long as required.
Disability: If an injury prevents you from working for a time, DBA grants 66% of your weekly earnings, up to a maximum of $1,030.78 per week.
Long Term Disability: If an injury results in a permanent disability, DBA can apply for the rest of a claimant's life. The payments even keep up with inflation and cost of living adjustments. Additionally, the government will assist permanently disabled employees in finding a new occupation through Vocational Rehabilitation Services.
Death: If a DBA-covered employee dies in the course of work, the government will cover $3,000 in burial expenses. A surviving spouse OR single child receives 50% of their weekly earnings. If there is more than one child, they can receive up to 66% of their parent's weekly earnings. These benefits continue, with adjustments, until the child is 18 (or 23 if a full-time student).
It’s important to note that the government reserves the right to reduce permanent disability and death benefits to aliens living within the US and non-US citizens living outside the country. Currently, they are allowed to reduce compensation by 50%.
You can find a full explanation of DBA benefits here.
How Can I Get DBA Coverage?
The law requires anyone employed by a contractor, subcontractor, or government agency working for the federal government overseas have DBA coverage. The hiring organization is required to obtain the insurance policy before the contract begins and pay for all premiums. Furthermore, it falls upon the employer to make sure their injured employees get the compensation they deserve
Under certain circumstances, contractors can obtain insurance waivers comparable to DBA coverage. However, these only apply when specifically granted and only if the host country has strong workers’ compensation programs. Contractors unsure about the benefits of an insurance waiver should consult a DBA attorney.
If your employer asks you to cover premiums or ignores your workers’ compensation claims, you may want to contact a lawyer with experience handling Defense Base Act cases.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries or even death while working for the US government overseas, you might have a case. If you’d like an experienced Defense Base Act lawyer from The Law Office of George P. Escobedo & Associates, PLLC to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (210) 807-3178.