The Defense Base Act (DBA) provides insurance coverage similar to workers compensation for employees working under government contracts outside of the United States.
It is intended to act as the counterpart to domestic workers compensation insurance. In fact, it’s the sole recourse for workers injured or killed overseas while executing government contracts and subcontracts in foreign countries.
That’s a huge deal, considering the number of contractors providing support to deployed military service members in foreign countries.
If you’re a government contractor and you were injured in the course of work, you can make the DBA work for you. Read on to learn how.
Report Injuries Immediately
Much like regular workers compensation insurance, you have to make sure you follow the correct process from start to finish for the DBA to work.
Your first step is to notify your supervisor of the accident as soon as reasonably possible. This isn’t just a matter of courtesy–it’s the first step in cementing your DBA claim.
To officially notify your supervisor, you need to fill out the LS-201 form (Notice of Employee’s Injury or Death). Simply telling your supervisor verbally isn’t sufficient (though you should do that too so that they know what’s going on).
Filing this form sets other processes in motion. Once your employer receives the LS-201 form, they are legally required under the DBA to take certain steps. The form creates a paper trail you can use to convince DBA decision-makers that your injury justifies the appropriate compensation.
Trust us, insurance companies are only out for their bottom line. You need to build a solid case.
Note that under the DBA, you don’t need to be physically working at the time of injury if you’re in a currently designated combat zone.
Seek Immediate Care
Part of building a solid case is creating a paper trail that shows you took the appropriate steps to care for the injury. Otherwise, the insurance company may argue that you deliberately failed to treat the injury to gain better compensation after the fact.
When you inform your supervisor (preferably right after the accident), ask your supervisor for authorization to visit a physician of your choice.
There are two reasons for this. First, this grants you an additional level of comfort. Second, it allows you to find a physician with less connection to the subsequent DBA insurance investigation or your employer.
The physician is obligated to treat you either way. But if the physician is connected to your employer or the DBA investigation, they’re more likely to downplay the injury to reduce the chance that the insurance company will have to pay out your claim.
Either way, visit a physician right away. You need medical care, and you need a paper trail of that medical care.
In case you haven’t caught on yet, you need a paper trail at every stage in this process.
But it’s not enough to just create a paper trail. You also need your own records of everything that happens to help your DBA attorney build a case.
You should obtain copies of incident reports, medical records, and ongoing clinical records. If you have any correspondence related to your DBA claim, add that to your records as well.
That said, if you have correspondence related to your claim, all communication about your claim should go through your attorney. They know how to maximize your DBA claim–and make sure you don’t say or do anything that could jeopardize your claim.
Figuring Out How to File a DBA Claim?
So, if you’re fighting through a DBA claim, you need a seasoned attorney on your side.