Fast forward to current times, and the U.S. has increasingly relied on defense contractors for a multitude of tasks in our global efforts. Contracting companies have been asked to take an ever-increasing role in our military activities. Services such as waste disposal and food service, even security tasks, have been provided by contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some contractors have a para-military role, which can be every bit as dangerous as a military assignment.
There is currently a bill introduced in the House of Representative amending the DBA to allow death benefits under the DBA, normally provided to spouse & children, be paid to a designated beneficiary or next of kin. This would avoid forfeiture of those death benefits when one is unmarried and has no children. The issue arose because a security contractor who was killed in the embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya was in just that position – no spouse, no children and thus no death benefits. While well-intentioned, the bill appears to be limited in scope, only addressing war risk hazards such as attacks like the one in Benghazi.
There have been other recent attempts to streamline the workings of the Defense Base Act, such as having the federal government be the self-insurer for the contracting companies, or having a single-payer program in place. While it may seem that change is in the wind, for the time being, the Defense Base Act remains intact, pretty much unchanged since the 1958 amendments.
If you have been injured, or a loved one killed while working overseas, there may be compensation available under the Defense Base Act. The attorneys at Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A. are experienced in Defense Base Act claims, and can help answer your questions.