Defense Base Act Attorney in San Antonio
We Handle DBA Cases Across the Globe from Start to Finish
Civilians under the employment of the United States military and serving on an overseas U.S. military base are covered by the Defense Base Act (DBA), which provides them a workers’ compensation-like protection in case of on-the-job injury. The same protection and assurance is extended to private contractors who are performing overseas work for the U.S. Armed Forces, the State Department, and the Department of Defense. If you were hurt while completing your regular duties, then the Defense Base Act may be able to secure benefits to recover.
The Law Offices of George P. Escobedo & Associates, PLLC proudly represents civilian personnel who need to file a Defense Base Act claim. We have extensive experience dealing with insurance companies who are sometimes tempted to wrongfully deny or undervalue the benefits needed by an injured worker. You can trust in us to be able to handle your Defense Base Act case or claim with the same passion and skill we show all our clients.
What Is a Defense Base Act Lawyer?
In simple terms, a defense base act lawyer is an attorney who represents injured workers who are covered under the Defense Base Act. The DBA provides federal benefits similar to workers' compensation to civilian and government contractors who are injured or killed while working on an overseas military base.
Since the United States has military bases throughout various parts of the globe, DBA lawyers handle cases on a worldwide scale.
A DBA attorney can assist workers who are injured in any country with an active U.S. military or government presence, including but not limited to:
- Saudi Arabia
- United Kingdom
What You Should Know About the Defense Base Act
The Defense Base Act makes it possible for eligible employees and civilian personnel working outside the United States on military bases or under contract with the US government to seek compensation for essentially any job-related injury. To this extent, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is actually covered by the DBA, as well as other psychological injuries. The goal of DBA benefits is the same as workers’ compensation benefits, which help you recuperate comfortably without having to worry about your finances and medical expenses.
Who Is Covered Under the Defense Base Act?
Workers who meet any of the following criteria are covered under the Defense Base Act, regardless of their nationality:
- Those who work for a private employer on an overseas US military base or land controlled by the US for military purposes.
- Those who work overseas on a public works contract for a US government agency that falls under the umbrella of national defense or war activities.
- Those who work overseas under contract approved and funded by the US government.
- Those who work for the USO or another organization that delivers morale and welfare services for abroad service members.
Examples of workers covered by the Defense Base Act include but are not limited to:
- Security personnel
- Language interpreters
- Contract interpreters
- Documentation specialists
- Interdisciplinary engineers
- Clerical workers
Types of Injuries Covered
Nearly any type of work-related injury or illness is covered under the Defense Base Act, including both physical (non-scheduled and scheduled injuries) and psychological conditions. Likewise, injuries do not have to be suffered during working hours or while on a military base or authorized premises to be covered. Under The United States Supreme Court decision O’Leary v Brown-Pacific-Maxson, 340 US 504, 507 (1951), all that is required for a condition to be covered under the Defense Base Act is that "the obligations or conditions of employment create the zone of special danger out of which the injury arose."
Examples of injuries covered under the Defense Base Act include:
- Back injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Amputation / limb loss
- Gunshot wounds
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Severe burns
- Hearing and vision loss
- Occupational diseases
- Toxic chemical exposure
Benefits Under the Defense Base Act
If your DBA claim is approved, you may receive finances based on:
- Your total payment amount based on your contract
- How much money you earned in the previous year before your injury
- Both your overseas and domestic incomes before your injury
Similar to workers' compensation benefits, DBA benefits include medical, disability, and death benefits. Injured workers may receive permanent and temporary disability benefits equal to two-thirds of their average weekly earnings up to a maximum amount based on national average wage rates which are computed annually on October 1st. In the tragic event of a worker's death, these benefits still apply and are awarded to the worker's beneficiaries in descending order and will equal no more than two-thirds of the employee's average weekly wage.
In some cases, you might not be given regular benefits through your Defense Base Act claim. Instead, it might be needed to arrange a lump settlement to be paid to you at once. Our San Antonio Defense Base Act attorney, Mr. George Escobedo, can act on your behalf to negotiate a fair lump settlement amount.
Choosing a Doctor Under the Defense Base Act
Government employees who are injured overseas have the right to seek treatment from a doctor of their choice. While employees have no restrictions in choosing a doctor, they must obtain authorization from their employer or insurance company if they wish to switch doctors. Employers may also send injured workers to a doctor of their choice for an independent medical evaluation to confirm the need for treatment and continuation of benefits. If the worker fails to attend this appointment, their benefits may cease.
Call (210) 807-3178 to speak with our San Antonio DBA team. Spanish-speaking legal services are available.
Statute of Limitations for DBA Claims
Injured employees must generally provide notice of their injury or illness to their employer within 30 days, though this notice period can sometimes be extended to one year for cases involving occupational diseases. Likewise, a legal claim must be filed in the Office of the District Director within one year of the date the employee or dependent became aware of the injury or death. For victims of occupational diseases, this deadline may be extended to two years.
Since these deadlines can ultimately make or break your case, it is crucial to contact a defense base act attorney from our firm as soon as possible to ensure your compliance with all applicable legal deadlines.
The United States and our military would not have the same strength they do today without civilian personnel and independent contractors. Our law firm is proud to be able to represent and assist the men and women who are there to support our military overseas. For comprehensive and caring help with your Defense Base Act claim, call today.
Defense Base Act claims can be complex and involve various paperwork, multiple rounds of negotiations with insurance companies, and various legal deadlines that can make or break your claim. For this reason, it is important to retain the services of a skilled Defense Base Act attorney who understands the nuances of this system and can maximize your chances of securing the benefits you need.
Here are just a few of the many reasons to hire a DBA lawyer:
- Coverage is not guaranteed: Many injured government contractors mistakenly believe that their employer will automatically grant them coverage. In reality, your employer and its insurance company have access to a team of adjusters and lawyers whose sole job is to search for a reason to limit or deny your claim. A DBA attorney can level the playing field and fight for your right to be covered if you have suffered a legitimate injury.
- DBA claims are different from state workers' comp: Unlike workers' compensation, government employers can deny a DBA claim without a hearing, placing the burden on the injured worker to prove that the injury falls under the Defense Base Act. A DBA lawyer can fight to protect your rights when employers act without cause.
- DBA claims require specialized help: Not all attorneys understand Defense Base Act law. Having gone through many changes since its first introduction in 1942, the Defense Base Act is a complex area of law that requires a unique set of skills to successfully navigate.
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