Many workers in the United States are protected by some form of workers’ compensation. So too, are contractors and subcontractors working overseas, either on a U.S. military base or as a U.S. government contractor by a policy known as a DBA or Defense Base Act Policy. The Defense Base Act provides coverage to these workers who are injured on the job or to their loved ones in the case of death while working overseas on a US Government contract. The benefits included are medical, disability, and death benefits whether the injury occurred on work time or not.
What is the Defense Base Act?
The Defense Base Act (DBA) is a legislative extension signed in 1941 of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, a federal workers’ compensation program. Designed to provide coverage benefits to individuals working as contractors on U.S. defense bases overseas, the defense base act is often relied upon to provide treatment and/or compensation to employees of defense contractors injured on the job.
Who Is Covered by the Defense Base Act?
All U.S. federal government contractors and subcontractors are required to have workers’ compensation for overseas workers by law. Civilian contractors employed at defense bases overseas are the particular demographic covered by the defense base act, DBA insurance specifically. There is no discrimination regarding job role or nationality when it comes to coverage for qualified contractors. All injured civilian contractors who meet the criteria will receive benefits regardless of country of origin or the duty performed.
According to the United States Department of Labor, along with those employed on overseas U.S. military bases and for U.S. government agencies, other employees covered by DBA insurance include those “Working on contracts approved and funded by the U.S. under the Foreign Assistance Act, generally providing for cash sale of military equipment, materials, and services to its allies, if the contract is performed outside of the United States.” In addition, anyone working for a U.S. company in welfare services is also eligible for coverage.
The number of professions are countless, as pointed out by DBA attorney Jon Robinson, who has litigated claims for the following:
- Base and Tower Security
- Canine Handlers
- Construction Engineers
- Cultural Advisors
- Flight Attendants
- Food Service Workers
- Heavy Equipment Operators
- Laundry Service workers
- Military and Police Trainers
- Personal Security Specialists
- Social Scientists
- Truck Drivers
- Vehicle Mechanics
What Types of Injuries are Covered by the Defense Base Act?
Just like the types of workers who are contracted by the government to work outside of the United States, the injuries sustained are similarly varied. Each situation is unique and some workplaces more dangerous than others. The hard physical labor, heavy equipment, and potential attack by enemies leads to high risk of sustaining physical injuries, but the psychological aspects of mentally-taxing occupations can also pose threats for acquiring certain illnesses.
Some of the types of injuries that could occur when working as a government contractor or on a military base overseas include:
- Arm Injuries
- Back Injuries
- Breathing Problems
- Broken Bones
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Chemical Exposures
- Chest Pains
- Eye or Vision Problems
- Head Injuries
- Hearing Problems
- Heart Attack
- Hip Injuries
- Lead Poisoning
- Lumbar Stenosis
- Neck Injuries
- Psychological Injuries
- Shoulder Injuries
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
- War-Related Injuries
As you can see, the term injury as defined in the Defense Base Act is broad and any pain or discomfort is probably covered. If you are on-site at an overseas job and any of the following examples occur, you will be covered under the Act:
- Sustaining a back injury from falling
- Being involved in a car accident resulting in an injury
- Receiving an injury while running for cover during an enemy attack
- Getting hurt by IED explosions
- Breaking your arm while playing sports
- A fall out of your bunk causing injury
Benefits Under the Defense Base Act
The nature of the jobs carried out by workers covered through DBA insurance allow guaranteed benefits to any eligible employee subjected to injury or death. Monetary compensation for those suffering total disability is calculated at two-thirds of an individual’s weekly wage, with a maximum payout of $1,030.78 weekly. If only partial earnings were loss, compensation is adjusted accordingly.
In the event of death, a contractor’s spouse or one child receives half of a weekly wage, whereas two or more surviving family members receive two-thirds of the weekly earnings. Such benefits are often provided for the lifetime of families dealing with permanent total disability and may increase based on the increase in cost of living. Injured workers are entitled to seeking medical services from a physician of their choice.
How to Receive your Claim
First of all, report your injury as soon as possible. Lawyers suggest being organized with your claims since it is a slow process. One reason for that is the unforeseen rush of claims that came in to the system following an overflow of injuries sustained in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other war torn countries. It helps to hire a lawyer to put the steps into place and make sure your case gets to trial.
It is also essential to find a DBA insurance brokerage expert who will make sure you have the most comprehensive employee benefits.