Contractors and subcontractors working overseas under a United States government contract or on a U.S. military base are entitled to workers’ compensation protection under the Defense Base Act (DBA). As a contractor, you may have questions about the DBA and what benefits are rewarded to you in the event of an injury, illness, or death. If your employer has consulted with a benefits consultant, then he or she may already have explained to you the basics of what the insurance is and what it provides. Here we’ll answer other common questions you may have about the Defense Base Act and what possible implications it could have to you as a contractor.
1. Who Is Covered Under the DBA?
Enacted in 1941, the Defense Base Act is an extension of the federal worker’s compensation program. It covers a number of contractors, including those who work for private employers on U.S. military bases in and outside the United States. It also covers contractors who work on public work contracts with U.S. government agencies, including service and construction contracts associated with war activities or national defense outside the U.S. Contractors who work on contracts funded by the U.S. under the Foreign Assistance Act are also covered if the contract is performed outside the U.S. Other contractors who may be covered by the DBA include contractors who work for American employers providing welfare-type services outside the U.S. to benefit the Armed Services.
2. What Injuries Are Covered Under the DBA?
Not all injuries are covered under the DBA. Similar to traditional workers’ compensation programs, the insurance carrier will need to determine if your injury occurred due to and in the course of your employment. If the answer is yes, you may have a claim under the DBA. The term “injury” refers to any accidental injury that occurs because of and during the course of employment. These injuries can range from slip and falls to automobile collisions. The Defense Base Act also covers aggravation injuries in addition to new injuries. If your employment has exacerbated a pre-existing condition, then you may be covered under your DBA insurance.
3. What Benefits Are Allowed Under the DBA?
Under the Defense Base Act, contractors are allowed certain benefits including medical, disability, and death. These benefits are in place to cover employees who are injured or killed in the course of employment, even if the injury or death did not occur during work hours. In the event of total disability, the employee is compensated at a rate of two-thirds his or her average earnings per week up to a maximum of $1,030.78 weekly. In some circumstances, an employee may also receive compensation for partial loss of earnings. In the event of the employee’s death, the surviving spouse and children are provided up to two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly earnings, up to the maximum weekly rate.
4. When Do I Have to File a DBA Claim?
To successfully file a claim after an injury or death, certain guidelines must be followed. All claims under the Defense Base Act must be filed within a two year period after the employee or claimant becomes aware of the relationship between the employment, injury, disability, or death. If a previous payment of compensation has been made, a new claim must be filed within one year of the date of the last payment of compensation.
5. What If My Employer Fails to Get DBA Insurance?
Some employers fail to obtain DBA insurance. However, it’s important to know that all Defense Base Act employers are legally required to obtain Defense Base Act insurance coverage for contractors hired to complete a job. If a contractor hires a subcontractor to work and the subcontractor fails to obtain DBA insurance coverage, it is then up to the general contractor to provide DBA insurance for the subcontractor. If your employer fails to obtain DBA insurance, you have the right to sue for civil damages in court. If the employer is uninsured, he or she cannot defend the claim by putting the blame on a co-worker, negligence, or by your assumption of the risks.
6. How Does the DBA Handle Medical Treatments?
If you’re a contractor covered by DBA insurance, you are entitled to certain medical benefits. If you require medical treatment for a work-related injury, ask your employer to authorize the treatment. Under the DBA, you have the option of choosing a physician. If you have a medical emergency and are unable to contact your employer, you have the right to go to the nearest physician or hospital. However, it’s important to let your employer know about the situation as soon as possible. The DBA insurance carrier typically takes responsibility for the cost of medical transportation, as well as repatriation for medical care if necessary.
7. What is the Procedure for Filing a Claim?
If you’ve been injured while working as a contractor it’s important to file a claim the proper way. To report an injury, contact your employer as soon as possible so that he or she can notify the insurance carrier. Medical treatment for the injury should be authorized immediately. Your employer should submit Form LS-202 (Employer’s First Report of Injury) with the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) within 10 days of the injury. Your employer should also file a written claim for benefits with the OWCP within one year of the injury.
The Defense Base Act was initially designed to cover employees on military bases outside the U.S. Later the Act was changed to include public works contracts with government agencies for the building of non-military projects, such as schools, dams, and roads abroad. In additional amendment was made later on to include various enterprises associated with U.S. national security and its allies. Today, it provides many contractors and subcontractors protection while working overseas. Want to know more about Defense Base Act insurance? Schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable benefits consultants here at the Business Benefits Group (BBG) in Fairfax, VA.