When it comes to workers’ compensation insurance, there is the potential for a lot of confusion and unknowns.  That is because when we start a job, we have some sense that any work injuries are covered generally by workers’ compensation.  Yet, we never really know what that means until we have an accident at work.  Like a lot of things in life, we do not focus on something until we actually need to worry about it.

In our practice at RITE Law, we have considerable experience with workers’ compensation cases, including matters involving the federal workers’ compensation programs in the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act and the Defense Base Act.  We also get a lot of client questions at the firm related to those programs, particularly the Defense Base Act.  

Accordingly, in this article, we are going to answer those frequently asked questions on the Defense Base Act that we have gotten over the years.  If, after reading this article, you have more questions about your own circumstances, then the maritime lawyers in Jacksonville at RITE Law are here to help.  At RITE Law, we have a group of Defense Base Act lawyers who have your best interests at heart, and who have the training and resources to make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve.  Our number is (904) 500-RITE or you can fill out our contact form online.  We provide a free case evaluation, so call today.  

First, the Basics – What is the Defense Base Act?

The Defense Base Act is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act that provides compensation and medical benefits to civilian employees working outside the United States on military bases or under U.S. government contracts for public works and national defense.

The Defense Base Act covers the following employment activities:

1. Working for private employers on U.S. military bases or on any lands used by the U.S. for military purposes outside of the United States, including those in U.S. Territories and possessions;
2. Working on public work contracts with any U.S. government agency, including construction and service contracts in connection with national defense or with war activities outside the United States;
3. Working on contracts approved and funded by the U.S. under the Foreign Assistance Act, generally providing for cash sale of military equipment, materials, and services to its allies, if the contract is performed outside of the United States; and
4. Working for American employers providing welfare or similar services outside of the United States for the benefit of the Armed Forces (e.g., the USO).

As you will see on our website, we have discussed some of the major benefits of the Defense Base Act, including 

1. An injured worker is entitled to receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage while out on disability.
2. The Defense Base Act allows for an annual cost of living and inflation increases when being paid benefits for permanent and total disability.
3. The Act gives an injured employee the right to choose his or her own attending physician.  

Now, let’s cover some of your questions about the Defense Base Act.

Defense Base Act FAQs

1. Is Hearing Loss Covered?

Yes.  While hearing loss can be a more difficult injury to prove because it is an injury that cannot be seen by others and because hearing loss could have many non-work-related causes, the Defense Base Act expressly covers hearing loss due to excessive noise in the workplace.  The most likely reason that hearing loss is covered is because it is understood that military bases can have work environments that have a great deal of noise, given the types of equipment and machinery on a base.

2. Can I Be Reimbursed for Traveling to the Doctor?

Yes.  If your work injury forces you to travel to a doctor’s office, a hospital, or a pharmacy, your mileage for that travel is covered by the Defense Base Act.

3. I Am Not a U.S. Resident, Am I Still Covered?

As long as you are an employee on a U.S. military base, you are covered by the Defense Base Act.  The U.S. has military bases around the world.  It is not surprising that many military bases will have non-military employees who are residents of the country in which the base is located outside of the U.S.  Therefore, the Defense Base Act covers those employees.  Be advised that the benefits available might be slightly different than those available to U.S. residents.  So, if you are a non-U.S. resident, be sure to consult with an attorney about what workers’ compensation benefits are available to you.

4. Is Mental Health Covered by the DBA?

Yes, psychological injuries resulting from a workplace accident, like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety are all covered by the Defense Base Act.  In addition, lost wages due to a mental-health issue are also compensable under the Defense Base Act.   

Call the Maritime Lawyers in Jacksonville at RITE Law to Help You.

At RITE Law, we started the firm for one reason – to help those in Florida and elsewhere have the resources of a firm that was “big enough to fight but small enough to care.”  At Rudolph, Israel, Tucker & Ellis (RITE law), we have the resources and experience to go to trial when it is necessary, and we have the wisdom to advise you appropriately.  

Expect lots of attention, passionate representation, and a healthy disdain for big insurance companies. We believe that leads to the best result possible.  Unlike larger firms, your case isn’t handed to a paralegal or assistant to do the heavy lifting. The attorney you meet initially is the one who will be by your side every step of the way. 

We also take pride in creating an atmosphere where every client is treated like family.  Family members stick up for one another no matter what.  You should expect nothing less from the RITE Law maritime lawyers in Jacksonville.

Without help from the RITE team, making your own personal injury claims can be very difficult.  When you turn to our firm, we spring into action, making sure that every detail of your claim is addressed.  Call us for help.  Our number is (904) 500-RITE or you can fill out our contact form online.  We provide a free case evaluation, so feel free to call us today.