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How to get your Defense Base Act claim paid

The war on terror has pulled a tremendous amount of civilian contractors into support roles in the war-torn Middle East. Non-military workers are bravely performing ordinary labor in the face of grave danger. Their salaries are generally much higher for similar work stateside, but they face considerable risk of injury and tragedy.

Because of the many differences involved in working abroad, employees are generally protected under the Defense Base Act (DBA), which helps ensure they'll be covered for losses suffered overseas.

How do DBA claims work?

The claim process can be very complicated, and many injured workers are not provided their rightful benefits in a timely fashion.

If you are injured on a job that falls under the DBA, you are required to give written notice to your employer within 30 days. Your employer is mandated to notify its insurance carrier immediately. You should be able to receive medical treatment right away and begin receiving DBA payments within 14 to 28 days. Additionally, a written claim must be filed with the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs of the U.S. Department of Labor within a year.

How are benefits calculated?

If injured, you have a three-day waiting period to see if you're able to return to work. After that, an "average weekly wage" will be calculated based on your previous year's income or on a per diem rate multiplied by your regular work schedule. If you believe the wage doesn't reflect fair compensation, the number is negotiable.

Once a weekly wage is set, you receive two-thirds of the total. The DBA does set a weekly ceiling on benefits, but no bottom. Permanent disability and death benefits can be paid for life and may include cost of living increases. These monies may also be tax exempt.

Legal representation

If the weekly salary doesn't seem fair or you're having a problem getting your claim processed, you may have to challenge the insurance carrier of employer. The good news about the DBA is that legal fees do not come out of your pocket. The insurance carrier is required to pay legal costs and attorneys are generally compensated on an hourly rate. The same holds true for settlements, although an agreed upon fee often becomes part of the negotiation.

Given the fact that insurance companies bear the cost of legal fees under Defense Base Act, it makes sense to seek the advice of an experienced DBA attorney. If you have any questions about the Defense Base Act or how it can help you or a loved one, please contact the Barnes Law Firm at 713-652-4002 for a confidential consultation. #DefenseBaseActLawyer

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