The Defense Base Act (DBA) applies to longshoreman and harbor-workers who are injured while working or deployed overseas, and provides medical treatment and financial compensation to defense contractors or employees outside of the United States. Most contracts with a U.S. government agency outside of the U.S. will be covered by the DBA, military or not.
As with any area of law, there are many pitfalls to be avoided, and there are a few loopholes for you to take advantage of. For instance, did you know that if you were deployed to a war zone, and get hurt off the battlefield, you are eligible to file a DBA claim? That’s right – in those circumstances, you don’t have to be physically working at the time of your injury.
Additionally, if you file a DBA claim and your employer does not provide DBA coverage, the burden of proof is automatically lifted from your shoulders! This means that you no longer need to prove your case, instead it becomes the responsibility of your employer to disprove your claim.
Hidden dangers and invisible lifelines such as these are why it is always in your best interest to hire an attorney. At Montagna Klein Camden our DBA attorneys will fight aggressively for your case and your rights. Contact us today for a free consultation.
In the meantime, check out our tips for filing a Defense Base Act claim:
1. Always report any injury at work, no matter how small. This goes double for serious injuries. Immediately after you’ve sustained your injury, contact your employer and make a report. If you meet in person, it is a good idea to also send an email or other message documenting the injury. Save this message and any responses, as you may need it to prove that you reported the accident.
2. Seek out and connect with anyone who may have witnessed your accident. This step is particularly important if you were overseas at the time of your injury. It will undoubtedly be difficult, if not impossible, to locate and contact those witnesses after you’ve returned to the United States. Ask around, talk to people, and make a list of all potential witnesses and contact information.
3. Save all documents provided by your doctor, and keep a journal of all doctor visits overseas. You’ll also need their contact information, including name, date, hospital name and country, as well as a summary of any treatment received. Just like trying to track down and contact people; medical records become somewhat elusive after you’ve left the country. During your visit, be sure to obtain copies of any X-Rays, MRI scans, test results, etc.
4. Provide context for your doctors, and be honest. Your doctor has spent years studying, learning and observing. He or she knows everything about being a doctor, but most likely very little about your job. Inform your doctor about what kinds of activities you perform in the course of your work, what sorts of materials you come into contact with and how strenuous your duties are. Your work and the motions you make each day may greatly affect your doctor’s conclusion about your injuries, but only if you clue them in.
5. Don’t agree to give a recorded statement, and don’t sign anything until you’ve completed step #6!
A few bonus tips:
Despite what the insurance company may say, you have the right to choose your doctor, and you have the right to send their Nurse Case Manager out into the hallway during any examinations.