What Is DBA Law?

If you are hurt on the job, we are the team that can help you.Barry R. Lerner


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The Defense Base Act is a federal workers’ compensation program available to workers injured working overseas for United States department of defense contractors. This is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers Act which was enacted in 1921 to assist injured workers in the longshore industry. In 1941, Congress extended the Act to assist those injured overseas while in the employ of U.S. defense contractors.

The recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan created thousands of jobs for workers employed by these contractors. The jobs are usually very well paid, but do carry a certain amount of inherent danger. Working in a war zone can be every bit as dangerous as a military assignment, with the possibility of suffering a debilitating injury. Those who are injured in the course of their employment have this program available.


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The DBA covers employees who work for private employers that work on U.S. military bases or any land used by the US for military purposes outside of the U.S. For DBA purposes, the U.S. territories and possessions are also included as covered geographical areas.

The DBA also covers employees who are working on construction and service contracts with the U.S. government in connection with national defense or war activities outside of the U.S. Similarly, employees who are working on a contract funded and approved by the U.S. government under the Foreign Assistance Act and outside of the U.S. are covered by the DBA.

Employees working for American employers that provide welfare or other morale services outside of the US for the benefit and wellbeing of members of the military, such as the United Service Organization (USO) are covered by the DBA.

Finally, other foreign nationals working for such contracted employers are also covered under the DBA, regardless of nationality or origin.

With a few notable exceptions, the DBA incorporates the provisions of the LHWCA . The U. S. Department of Labor, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP), Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation (DLHWC), administers the DBA through district offices located throughout the United States.

For an injured worker, the benefits available include reasonable and necessary medical benefits, such as surgical and hospital treatment. The law also provides for payment of such things as prescription medications, physical therapy, diagnostic tests, attendant care, prostheses, hearing aids and necessary medical equipment, such as walkers or oxygen concentrators, and the cost of travel for medical treatment.

There is also a wage replacement component of this law. You can be compensated for lost wages based on the type of disability: temporary partial, temporary total, permanent partial and permanent total disability. Generally, this amount cannot exceed two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage, subject to minimum and maximum amounts.

Pursuing a claim under the Defense Base Act can be complex, and often require legal counsel experienced in these types of claims. There are stringent time requirements and procedures, and not knowing the rules may adversely affect your claim.

If you have been injured overseas while working for a U.S. contractor, or if a loved one has been killed, you may be entitled to compensation for that injury or death. The attorneys at Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A. have the experience and dedication to assist in pursuing your Defense Base Act claim.

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