Depending on the complexity of a case, DBA claims can take anywhere from less than six months to more than a year to get through.
Much of this depends on how you, the insurance company, and your employer individually choose to handle the claims process.
With the help of a Defense Base Act lawyer, you will be able to determine how long it will take your DBA claims to go through and what route will work best for your case.
Here’s a quick guide on the Defense Base Act claims process and how a DBA attorney can help.
DBA Claims Process
To start the DBA claims process, you first need to seek out medical treatment. This is best done as soon as possible, as the health of an injured contractor is the most important aspect of all Defense Base Act claims.
After seeking out medical treatment, file Form LS-203 (Employee’s Claim for Compensation) with the Department of Labor’s Division of Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation (DLHWC). You will also need to provide the DLHWC with all relevant medical records that have a connection to your injury.
Before making a recommendation, the DLHWC will have an informal conference with your employer and carrier.
During this conference, you should have a Defense Base Act lawyer representing you to ensure you receive reasonable compensation. The DLHC will then issue a memorandum after the conference.
Formal Adjudication Process
If any party disagrees with the memorandum issued by the DHLC, then that party can file Form LS-207 to state why they disagree. Either party can then refer the case to the Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ), marking the start of the formal adjudication.
In some cases, the time from the actual appeal to the hearing is up to nine months. It can take two months or so for your OALJ appeal to even get on the docket, and once it does, it can take another four months for the hearing to actually occur.
During this time, the involved parties will send discovery requests to each other to:
- Ask questions
- Request documents
- Schedule depositions to ask questions under oath
Once the discovery requests are completed, the parties will participate in a formal hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge. A skilled DBA attorney will help ensure your case is presented in the best way possible.
After the hearing, you will then have to wait for the Administrative Law Judge to issue an opinion. This can take anywhere from five months to as long as a year. Afterward, either party can make an appeal or can abide by the judge’s opinion.
Alternatives to Formal Adjudication
If you do not want to go through the time required for a formal adjudication process, the involved parties can discuss settlement at any time. In fact, this is the route most claims take.
If the DLHWC or the Administrative Law Judge consider your settlement reasonable, they will approve it. Factors that determine the reasonability of a settlement include:
- Medical records
- Loss of wage-earning capacity
- Disputed legal or factual issues
The DLHWC will review the settlement within thirty days and issue a Compensation Order if the settlement is declared reasonable.
Once a Compensation Order is issued, the employer and carrier have to give you the settlement money within ten days, whether you live in the US or in a different country. If they fail to do so, then they may be penalized an amount that equals 20% of the money owed.
Alternatively, parties can enter into a stipulation. If you are considering entering into stipulations, you may want to consider if it allows for ongoing medical benefits, compensation benefits, and monetary compensation for any permanent impairment ratings.
Hiring a Defense Base Act Lawyer
The DBA claims process can take a long time, and if you want the best results possible, you need to hire a Defense Base Act lawyer.
An experienced DBA lawyer will be able to tell you how long your case may take and your best course of action. They will also help ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
If you need a Defense Base Act attorney, contact us today to find out what we can do for you.