You are a contractor for the U.S. military, and you were just injured on the job. There are probably a multitude of questions flowing through your mind in addition to the fact that you are in pain, you need medical attention, and you need to know how to proceed.
So, let’s take a moment now to discuss what you need to do from the moment of injury so you are comfortable that you have put the correct wheels in motion to receive compensation for your on-the-job injuries under the Defense Base Act.
Step 1. Report the Injury to Your Supervisor
To ensure that you are following through with what the Defense Base Act (DBA) requires, you need to make sure that your supervisor is aware of the accident. So, when an incident occurs, immediately report it to your supervisor.
Reporting the injury to your supervisor is the vital first step to memorializing your DBA claim. Typically, to alert your supervisor in writing, you should be asked to fill out an LS-201 form, titled “Notice of Employee’s Injury or Death,” which officially lets the employer know of the accident and injuries.
The reason for making this report is because it sets other processes in motion. For example, your employer is required, under the DBA, to take certain steps after being made aware of a workplace incident. Therefore, informing your employer begins a record – or paper trail, if you will – of correspondence and reporting with regard to the accident that occurred.
Information with regard to the type and time of your injury is critical at this stage to preserve your claim and convince the DBA decision makers (particularly the insurance company) that your injuries justify proper and appropriate compensation.
Step 2. Seek Immediate Care for Your Injuries
Once you have informed your supervisor, and by extension your employer, about the incident and injuries, then you should obtain medical treatment. It would be advisable to ask your employer for authorization to visit a physician of your choice. Not only will that provide an additional level of comfort for you, but it may in the long-run be helpful because you will be seen by a physician who likely has less connection to the relevant insurance company that will ultimately review your DBA claim.
It goes without saying that seeking medical treatment is necessary if you have been injured. Yet, there are other tangential benefits related to your DBA claim that make this first physician’s visit more important.
Specifically, going to a doctor right away begins the medical documentation process. A lot of the decisions that need to be made with regard to a DBA claim, particularly if litigation over a DBA claim is necessary, come from the information about the incident and the resulting injuries. Accordingly, getting good documentation of what occurred, and what injuries were sustained, as close to the time of the incident as possible is extremely important. Before positions begin to be taken, or issues in the claim arise, you want as accurate a report of what happened as possible.
Accurate, detailed facts available right after the incident occurred will ultimately give you and your attorney a good foundation to make a strong argument for compensation. Moreover, a physician’s visit will allow your physician to make an assessment of whether you are able to return to work, and whether you need ongoing treatment.
Step 3. Request and Save Copies of All Accident and Medical Records
A DBA claim can be a long process, requiring time, patience, and above all good documentation. In order to maximize the compensation owed to you for an injury, it is important to request and keep all relevant reports regarding the incident.
Incident Reports. Attorneys, insurance claims adjusters, and courts (if it comes to that) all want to have the most complete timeline possible with respect to the accident. Therefore, the documentation you create yourself, or obtain from your employer, needs to be in your possession and should be all in one place.
As you go through the process, try to have the story of the incident be told from the perspective of the injured party. Prosecuting a DBA claim may require a little emphasis on the impact of an injury, e.g. how it has affected your life, to make sure those reviewing a claim understand the case in a human context.
Medical Records. Your medical records are the key to understanding the benefits you will ultimately need for a full recovery, be it physical therapy, medication, or periodic blood work. Attorneys who have an expertise in Defense Base Act claims, such as the legal professionals at Doolittle & Tucker, know precisely what types of medical information are required to get certain DBA benefits. Therefore, your retention of medical records throughout the claims process can be very beneficial to you.
Ongoing Clinical Records. In addition to medical records, documentation as to your progress from the time of the injury onward is also beneficial. Your eligibility for disability benefits may hinge on whether or not you are responding to ongoing medical treatments.
In sum, to the extent possible, collect all relevant documents of the claim and your injury in one place. Be sure to provide all of them to your attorney so, again, you can maximize the DBA benefits to which you are entitled. In this context, the more information, the better for you and your claim. Seasoned DBA attorneys, like Doolittle & Tucker, are able to make a stronger case on your behalf if there is extensive documentation about the accident. So remember, good documentation results in a strong DBA claim argument.
Step 4. Stick to the Defense Base Act Deadlines
Having an attorney to assist you with a DBA claim is especially important when it comes to staying current with the U.S. Department of Labor. Claims under the Defense Base Act are administered by the Department of Labor. As with any good bureaucracy, the Department of Labor (DOL) has clear deadlines within which to report your DBA claim.
Most importantly, you as an injured worker have one year from the time of the injury to file your claim with the DOL. If you do not meet that deadline, then you may not be able to pursue your DBA claim, specifically the lost wage portion of your DBA claim.
Doolittle & Tucker Are the DBA Experts You Need to Successfully Obtain Benefits
Because employers and insurance companies have incentives to minimize any compensation under the DBA, you should be sure to retain an experienced DBA attorney to be in your corner. A good attorney could make all the difference between getting a meager amount and maximizing the benefits rightfully owed to you.
We invite you to contact Doolittle & Tucker at 904.396.1734 to learn more about our experience and what we can do to help you. Our dedication and commitment to our clients is what sets Doolittle & Tucker apart from other lawyers in who work in the Defense Base Act field. Call today.