One thing about workers’ compensation is that if you do not follow all of the rules and deadlines, it could be fatal to your attempts to collect disability compensation. That is why, when it comes to issues involving workers’ compensation or lawsuits involving compensation for injuries due to someone’s negligence, you want to make sure that you have an experienced attorney by your side. 

At RITE law, we have a group of attorneys that have your best interests at heart, and that have the training and resources to make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve. In this blog, we are going to talk about the basics of Defense Base Act claims, and what you need to remember if you are able to show that a third-party is liable to you related to your injuries because the third-party was negligent.

If, after reading this article, you have more questions about your personal situation, we can help. Our number is (904) 500-RITE or you can fill out our contact form online. We provide a free case evaluation, so call today.

The Defense Base Act, What Is It?

In 1941, as World War II was heating up for the United States, it became clear that non-military personnel employed on U.S. defense bases needed protection from injury while employed on the bases. Military service personnel had insurance coverage through the military, yet civilian workers on those same U.S. defense bases did not. To remedy that problem, The Defense Base Act of 1941 was enacted into law.

The purpose of The Defense Base Act was to make sure that civilians working overseas for the U.S. government were protected in the event of injury, kidnapping, or death.  Accordingly, the U.S. extended the already existing federal workers’ compensation program for longshoremen and harbor workers, called the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, to people employed at U.S. defense bases overseas.  

The Defense Base Act, or DBA, is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor and is meant to compensate defense contractor employees who are injured in the scope of their employment. The Defense Base Act has been revised several times in order to broaden the scope of who may be covered by the workers’ compensation program.

Who Does The Defense Base Act Cover?

The Defense Base Act covers the following types of employees:

1. Employees of private employers stationed overseas on a U.S. military base, or on any land used for military purposes by the U.S.
2. Employees involved in a contract with any U.S. government agency for public works, such as construction or service contracts, related to national defense activities outside of the U.S.
3. Employees involved in a contract for the sale of military equipment, materials, or services to allies of the U.S. under the Foreign Assistance Act, provided the activities take place overseas.
4. Employees working for American employers that provide welfare or similar services outside the U.S. for the benefit of the armed forces. Some examples include employees of the American Red Cross and the United Service Organization (USO).  

If you are injured in the course of your duties, then you are entitled to the following benefits and compensation:

1. Medical treatment, including psychological treatment
2. Compensation for disability
3. Lost wages
4. Vocational rehabilitation

If you are killed in the course of your duties, the Defense Base Act also provides death benefits for your loved ones.

To ensure that you were, in fact, injured in the course of your duties, your employer can ask that a doctor examine you to confirm that you need treatment and benefits.  

What About Third-Party Claims?

From the above, you can see that Defense Base Act claims provide workers’ compensation benefits, set up by your employer (typically a government contractor), to ensure that you are covered for any expenses associated with an injury on the job. However, there are times when a third-party may have behaved negligently, and it was that negligence that caused your injury.  

In those cases, you should consider whether you would want to pursue a third-party claim because of the third-party’s negligence. In fact, you may be able to arrive at settlement from the third-party that can be used to cover the costs of your injury more quickly than the compensation you might receive from the Defense Base Act insurer.

To give you context, a good example of third-party negligence is if a contractor, not your employer, did electrical work at your U.S. base. Then, you get electrocuted at work because the electrical work was faulty. In that case, the contractor – not your employer – is liable for your injuries. In that instance, you may consider pursuing a third-party claim.  

What Do I Do If I Settle with the Third-Party?

If you arrive at a settlement with a third-party, there are some important notification rules that are required of you. Specifically, 33 U.S.C. § 933 requires that you get permission from both your employer and the Defense Base Act insurance company to settle your case with the third-party before you enter into the settlement agreement.  

Indeed, if you fail to tell your employer and the Defense Base Act insurer about the settlement, then you will lose all future compensation and medical treatment that is owed to you by the Defense Base Act insurance company. If the third-party settlement value is less than the future benefit under the Defense Base Act claims compensation, and you do not get the necessary consent, then you need to let go of the third-party settlement.   

RITE Law Has Defense Base Act Experience

The attorneys at RITE law started their 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.  

Without help from the RITE team, making Defense Base Act 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.