Civilians Abroad: Know Your Rights Under the Defense Base Act

Civilians Abroad: Know Your Rights Under the Defense Base Act

Jun 21, 2024 | Defense Base Act, Workers' Comp, Workplace Injury

America operates at least 750 military bases around the world, which requires the help of countless civilian employees and contractors. Many of these face risks that those working within the United States do not.

The Defense Base Act exists to protect the safety and health of these individuals as well as their loved ones. It ensures that the people America’s armed forces rely on don’t get left out in the cold and can expect a safe workplace.

If you work to support the American military abroad, you should know your rights. Keep reading for more on the Defense Base Act and how it protects government contractors.

Defense Base Act Basics

The Defense Base Act requires any government contractor or subcontractor to secure workers’ compensation insurance. It adopts many of the provisions of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, though not all.

The Act covers American citizens as well as foreign nationals. Foreign nationals must meet specific qualifying conditions to receive these benefits.

While you might think of interpreters and clerical workers first, the DBA covers many types of workers. Mechanics, cooks, janitors, and security officers represent just a few types of DBA benefit recipients. Anyone who falls under the umbrella of military contractors qualifies.

Rights Under the DBA

Civilian contractors working with the American military have several rights under the DBA. Most have to do with injury or death while working in this capacity abroad. While this covers any workplace injury, it also covers other injuries incurred in the course of such employment.

The DBA guarantees that those who suffer a workplace injury can receive disability and medical benefits through DBA insurance. It also ensures long-term provision for their loved ones, as death or permanent disability payments cover half of the employee’s average earnings per week for life. Injured employees receive medical treatment by physicians of their choice.

While you might think of this as only covering physical injuries, the DBA also requires coverage for mental health issues. Those who develop PTSD as a result of their work overseas have the same compensation rights as those who get shot or exposed to harmful chemicals.

Does It Always Apply?

Some positions operate under a DBA waiver. The head of a department or agency can request that the Secretary of Labor waive the DBA’s provisions for a contract, location, or employee class.

Note that this does not mean you lack workers’ compensation options. Those who work on a U.S. military base and lack DBA protection must have some other workers’ compensation provided.

Injured? How to Claim Under DBA

If you have an injury related to your work as a civilian contractor, you can start the process by notifying your employer. You must provide written notice through form LS-201 within 30 days.

You Have the Right to Compensation

The Defense Base Act ensures that those who make sacrifices for their country in non-military capacities receive the compensation they deserve. If you’ve suffered an injury while working as a civilian for the American armed forces, make sure you and your loved ones get the help you need.

Need help filing a DBA claim in Texas? Contact us at Barnes Law Firm for a free consultation. Thomas Barnes serves as a zealous advocate for all personal injury and workers’ compensation clients.