Building Your Knowledge Base: 4 Frequently Asked Questions About the Defense Base Act

Building Your Knowledge Base: 4 Frequently Asked Questions About the Defense Base Act

Nov 7, 2019 | Defense Base Act

Have you been told you’re entitled to compensation or medical benefits under the Defense Base Act? Wondering what this act is or why it’s even worth knowing about?

In this article, we’re covering commonly asked questions about the Defense Base Act. Read on to get a better understand what it is, what it covers, and the possible benefits you may be entitled to.

What Is the Defense Base Act?

The Defense Base Act (DBA) is an extension of the Longshore and Harbors Workers’ Compensation Act, which awards medical benefits and disability compensation to employees of U.S. government contractors who work overseas. It also provides death benefits to the survivors of those employees should that employee die abroad.

Who Is Covered by the Defense Base Act?

There are many situations where the Defense Base Act may apply. It applies to employees who work on behalf of private employers on U.S. military bases or lands used by the U.S. military outside of the country. It also applies to public work contracts with a U.S. government agency, as well as any contracts funded by the Foreign Assistance Act.

If you meet any of the criteria above, you are covered under the Defense Base Act regardless of nationality.

What Benefits Does the Defense Base Act Offer?

As mentioned above, the DBA provides disability and medical benefits to employees for workplace injuries, as well as death benefits to the eligible survivors of any employee killed during their employment. For employees with a medical disability, the total compensation is ¾ of the employee’s average weekly earnings. There is a maximum rate per week for compensation.

If the employee has died, any eligible survivors will receive ½ of that employee’s average weekly earnings. That number will go up to 2/3 if there are two or more eligible survivors. You’ll also be given up to $3,000 to cover funeral expenses per the LHWCA.

It’s important to note that these benefits are subject to an annual cost of living adjustments. In some scenarios, as with permanent total disability, you may receive compensation for life.

How Do You Obtain Treatment and Compensation for DBA Cases?

If you’re injured at work, you should immediately notify your supervisor and obtain treatment as soon as possible. You’re entitled to pick a physician of your choosing to treat your injuries, and the cost of medical transportation and care is the responsibility of your DBA insurance carrier.

You can file a written claim for compensation based on your injury within one year after the date of your injury. And if you’re an eligible survivor, you can give written notice of the employee’s death to their employer within 30 days after death. The employer will notify its insurance carrier or claim administrator once they’ve received these written claims and begin to process any eligible requests.

If payment isn’t secured, the injured employer or any survivors in the case of death can connect with an expert lawyer who can help get you the settlement you deserve. If the employer is found guilty of not paying compensation, they risk fines and prison time.

Final Thoughts on the DBA

If you’re an employee of  U.S. government contractor or related to one, you should absolutely know about the Defense Base Act. That’s because knowing about it is half the battle in securing the compensation and benefits you deserve should anything happen.

Do you need to know more about the DBA? Interested in legal advice? Contact us for a free legal consultation.