With workers’ compensation programs you do not really need to know the details until something happens. And then, it is really good to know the details. Like anything else, we do not need to become experts in something until the need arises. With a workplace accident, particularly on a U.S. military base overseas, it can be challenging to understand all that comes with workers’ compensation benefits under the Defense Base Act.
Of course, if you have been injured, or a loved one has lost their lives, and you or your loved is covered under the Defense Base Act, your first step should be to consult with a Defense Base Act attorney. At Doolittle & Tucker, we are the “best of the best” when it comes to Defense Base Act representation.
We have handled so many cases for injured employees under the Defense Base Act that we would be in the best position to properly advise you of what you need to know to make a Defense Base Act claim. Also, we can worry about the Defense Base Act details so you don’t have to. Call us for a free case review today at 904.396.1734. Remember, you do not need to pay any legal fees unless we obtain benefits for you.
Basics of the Defense Base Act
Before going into some of the lesser known benefits that could really help you under the Defense Base Act, it is always good to first do a refresher on what the Defense Base Act is, and who it covers.
You may have heard of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (Longshore Act), which the federal government set up to cover workplace accidents that occur at or around the shores and harbors of the United States. It was a way in which to protect longshoremen and harbor workers who may suffer workplace accidents, without the need to go through lengthy and wasteful litigation.
The Longshore Act over the years has had a number of “extensions” added on to it. In short, when a federal need presented itself, it seemed most appropriate to cover other types of federal employees under the Longshore Act, so that other types of workplace injuries were covered by workers’ compensation.
One such extension is the Defense Base Act. Although it falls under the umbrella of the Longshore Act, it has little to do with longshoremen or harbor activities. Rather, the Defense Base Act covers employees who work for private employers on U.S. military bases, or on any lands used by the U.S. for military purposes outside of the U.S., including U.S. territories and possessions.
Of course, the employees covered by the Defense Base Act are non-military personnel. A good example of a person covered by the Defense Base Act would be the clerk, or store manager, of a commissary on a U.S. military base. The employee is non-military, and is likely working for a private contractor. Yet, the employee works on a U.S. military base.
Now, in other blogs on our website, we have discussed some of the big benefits of the Defense Base Act. Those benefits include that an injured worker is entitled to receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage while out on disability. The Defense Base Act allows for annual cost of living and inflation increases when being paid benefits for permanent and total disability. Also, the Defense Base Act gives the injured employee the right to choose his or her own attending physician.
Now, let’s talk about the lesser-known benefits to the Defense Base Act (DBA).
1. Psychological Injuries Covered by the DBA? Yes.
While some workers’ compensation programs may not cover metal-health-related injuries, the DBA covers psychological injuries resulting from a workplace incident. Thus, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression are all covered under the DBA. In fact, injured employees may be entitled to lost wage and medical benefits because of those mental-health conditions.
2. Hearing Loss Covered by the DBA? Yes.
Workers’ compensation insurance companies can be quite persnickety about covering work-related hearing loss. That is because, oftentimes, it can be difficult to find the real source of a person’s hearing loss. Insurance companies are notorious for challenging whether hearing loss was just as likely the result of attending many rock concerts during a person’s free time as it is the aftereffect of workplace noise.
In that vein, hearing loss from workplace noise also takes some time to manifest itself as a symptom of the workplace environment. That delay is also a place in which insurance companies try to undermine such claims. Under the Defense Base Act, it is understood that military bases are workplaces that traditionally have a great deal of noise.
Whether it is from loud generators, diesel engines, jet planes, or helicopters, the Defense Base Act will cover such hearing-related injuries. Of course, it is on the military base to try to ensure that all employees use proper ear protection. But, the Defense Base Act expressly covers hearing loss from workplace noise.
3. Mileage Reimbursement under the DBA? Yes.
One cost that some people often do not think about until they themselves are injured is the time and expense of having to make trips to the doctor, to the hospital, to the medical center for extra tests, or to the pharmacy. While it may not seem like a heavy lift, those trips add up over time in terms of gas costs. And sometimes, you may need to travel a long way to get the services of a specialist.
The Defense Base Act takes that into account. Under the Act, you can claim mileage to and from your doctor’s office, to the pharmacy, and to physical therapy. That extra reimbursement could make a big difference in the amount of spending money you have on any given week. Doolittle & Tucker, having advised many of our clients about this lesser known benefit, has even created a form so you can easily make a claim for mileage reimbursement for travel to and from medical services.
4. Are Non-U.S. Residents and Foreign Nationals covered under the DBA? Yes.
While you may think that a federally created workers’ compensation program would exclude non-U.S. residents and foreign nationals, not so. As long as you are an employee on a U.S. military base, you are covered by the Defense Base Act. There are U.S. military bases all around the world. Many employees on those bases are local hires. So, under the DBA you are covered. You may need to ask your attorney whether the benefits may be slightly different between U.S. citizens and non-residents, but you are still covered.
Call Doolittle & Tucker today to get more information about the Defense Base Act and how it applies to your specific situation. We care deeply for our clients who are injured on the job, and we work diligently to maximize your compensation. Call today at 904.396.1734.