7 Tips On Filing a Defense Base Act Claim That You Need To Know

You might recall the old joke, where a tourist in New York City stops a pedestrian on the street and asks, “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?”  The pedestrian ruefully replies, “Practice, practice, practice.”

The joke is still a good one after all these years, and it brings to mind a similar sentiment with regard to the Defense Base Act.  Namely, how do you make a claim under the Defense Base Act?  Process, process, process.

Overseas Contractors for the U.S. Military – The Defense Base Act Is Your Workers’ Compensation Plan

Private contractors and other non-military workers employed overseas by the United States government should be aware of the Defense Base Act, which is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.  Non-military personnel who do contract work for the military (most often in overseas military bases) have their workers’ compensation benefits administered by the Defense Base Act.

Therefore, if you are a civilian working for the U.S. military overseas and have been injured or a loved one has been killed, in a work-related incident, you need to turn to the Defense Base Act for compensation.  To get that compensation you need to know a little about the claims process.

This article will give you 7 important tips to keep in mind whenever filing a Defense Base Act claim.  However, it is highly recommended that you get the help of an experienced Defense Base Act lawyer to assist you.  The “process, process, process” of a Defense Base Act claim could be tricky, and there are many potential pitfalls.

At Doolittle & Tucker, we are dedicated to helping people understand and avoid the pitfalls that come with any Defense Base Act claim.  Our experienced Defense Base Act attorneys will make sure that you receive the workers’ compensation benefits to which you are entitled after a workplace accident.

Our attorneys are truly the best in Florida when it comes to Defense Base Act representation.  We can do the work while you focus on the most important thing – healing.  To learn more about our expertise on filing Defense Base Act claims after reading this article, call us at 904.396.1734.  We will worry about your Defense Base Act claim, so you don’t have to.

Process, Process, Process

Before getting to the helpful tips, there are some basics you need to know about filing a Defense Base Act Claim.  First, after an injury, or after a loved one is killed in a workplace incident, you need to inform the relevant supervisor of the accident as soon as possible.

Second, the injured person must provide notice to the employer, in writing, within 30 days of the accident.  That written report will trigger the employer to provide medical treatment.

Finally, the injured person, or the family of a person killed in an incident, must file a so-called LS-203 form.  This form is the Department of Labor’s claim form for compensation.  On that form, you are able to give the details of your injury.  The form should be filed with the Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, and it should be filed within one year of the accident.

7 Tips For Filing a Defense Base Act Claim

  1. In the “zone of danger,” you can still receive Defense Base Act compensation even if you were not actually working at the time you were injured.  Unlike other workers’ compensation plans, the Defense Base Act does not necessarily require that a person is working at the time of the injury in order to receive benefits.  The Act acknowledges that civilians on military bases, particularly in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan, are in constant danger.  Accordingly, you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits even if you were injured during off-duty hours.
  2. Inform your supervisor immediately, and get it in writing.  Immediately after an injury, you should notify your supervisor.  Yet, also be sure to send an email to your supervisor.  That is helpful because, later on, you will likely need proof as to whether, and when, you notified your employer.
  3. Keep track of all of your income, including bonuses.  The compensation you receive through the Defense Base Act is calculated based upon your pre-injury wages.  If you fail to report all of the income you earned on the job, then you are short-changing yourself of the compensation you deserve.  Accordingly, keep track of all income, from any source, like bonuses.
  4. Go to the doctor you choose, not the insurance company’s doctor.  Upon filing a claim, the insurance company will likely recommend a physician.  While that is helpful on the insurance company’s part, the Defense Base Act allows you to use your own physician.  So, go to the best doctor you can find close to where you live.
  5. Be diligent in gathering evidence to support your claim.  The better you can support what happened in the incident, and the extent of your injuries, the better your compensation will be.  With that in mind, do not forget to make a list of witnesses to the accident, with their contact information.  Be sure to keep a diary of all the medical treatment you receive overseas.  Also, try to get all medical records (including x-rays, MRI images, etc.) from all overseas medical providers.
  6. Be honest about your injury.  Do not take the risk that your claim will be denied by exaggerating your injury to your doctor or to the insurance company.  Having a pre-existing condition prior to the injury does not mean that you will not get compensation.  Under the Defense Base Act, insurance will still cover injuries that worsen a previous injury.
  7. Finally, get a lawyer.  The best thing you can do to file an effective Defense Base Act claim is to contact a seasoned Defense Base Act attorney.

Doolittle & Tucker should be your go-to Defense Base Act attorneys.  In Florida, we are the Defense Base Act experts, and our representation is no cost to you unless we obtain compensation for you.  So, call for a free case review with one of our attorneys who specialize in Defense Base Act cases.  You can reach us today by calling 904.396.1734.

We have certainly become Defense Base Act specialists because we “practice, practice, practice” every day.  Accordingly, we will be in your corner to cut through the challenging Defense Base Act “process, process, process.