defense base act settlement amounts

It’s a dangerous world out there, especially for contractors deployed overseas. While everyone usually thinks only active-duty soldiers are in danger, civilians working for the military can also get injured.

Thus, the Defense Base Act (DBA) was created.

For contractors and subcontractors who get injured while working, this act is a godsend as it provides them with health insurance and a chance to receive a disability rating.

The problem is that a lot of people don’t understand how much they can claim, and as a result, the Defense Base Act settlement amounts can end up being fairly inconsistent. 

Luckily, we’ll explain everything, from the injuries covered to the average Defense Base Act settlement amounts. 

Let’s dig in.

Can I file a DBA claim?

Before we get to the Defense Base Act settlement amounts, we need to get some things out of the way. The first one is your eligibility. 

If you’ve ever been on a US government contract, you most likely received coverage under the Defense Base Act insurance. Government contractors or subcontractors, regardless of their citizenship are covered if they get injured overseas.

So whether you’re a mechanic, a welder, or a janitor on a US base, if you get hurt, you can file a DBA claim. 

Types of injuries covered

Defense Base Act Settlement amounts depend on the type of injuries you suffered. Now we get what you are probably thinking: Is my injury severe enough to warrant compensation? 

The good news is that DBA covers almost everything with the types of injuries included being pretty broad. You only need to know that if you were a contractor who worked for the US (especially in a combat zone) you most likely have a valid claim.

It’s pretty straightforward as there are just two categories of injuries defined by the DBA:

1. Specific injuries

The DBA defines these as:

1. Injuries that occurred as a result of a specific event
2. Injuries to extremities

Specific injuries can be anything from traumatic brain injuries to ACL tears. As long as there is an event that caused your injury, it falls under this category.

Keep in mind that there is a strict deadline for filing this claim. A claim for this category will be valid only if it’s filed within the first 12 months of the event. You’ll also need to produce the documentation that describes the said event. 

2. General Injuries

These types of injuries are the ones that cause the most confusion since there’s no specific event that caused the condition. General injuries cover:

1. Injuries unrelated to a specific event
2. Injuries to the neck, head, shoulders, hips, or torso

For instance, this category includes PTSD and cumulative long-term trauma (back pain caused by carrying heavy loads). 

If you have any of these, you can file a DBA claim. 

However, since you can’t bank on a specific event causing your condition, the way you departed your service is considered the date of injury. 

Since it takes time for these injuries to manifest, the deadline for a claim is much more lenient than with specific injuries. You can file a claim within one to two years of receiving your diagnosis for an injury connected to your overseas work.

In even more detail, the statutes of limitations for filing a claim for a DBA injury don’t start until you have a medical exam for your injury at a maximum improved state. 

Take for example hearing loss, which is also covered by the DBA, even if you worked overseas five years ago, but you only had your audiology exam now, you’re still eligible for filing a claim for hearing loss.

DBA settlements

Now, the thing you’ve been just dying to know – what are the average Defense Base Act settlement amounts? The quick answer is that it depends on the two categories we outlined above and the severity of your injuries. Let’s take a closer look at factors that play a role in Defense Base Act settlement amounts.

1. Specific injury settlements

Contractors who suffered specific injuries won’t receive a lump sum. They’ll get their settlement paid out on schedule. How much? 

It depends on the following:

1. Contractors suffering a complete disability from a specified injury will receive compensation for the remainder of their life, equivalent to two-thirds of their average weekly earnings.
2. Contractors with a partial disability will receive compensation adjusted according to the nature of their condition.
3. In case of death on the job, the child or the spouse of the deceased can receive half of the deceased contractor’s weekly wage average indefinitely If the contractor is survived by two or more family members, they can also receive two-thirds of the weekly wage of the contractor who has passed.
4. Contractors who suffered a specific injury may also receive medical coverage to treat their condition for the rest of their life.

2. General injury settlements

General injuries are different as they get paid in lump sums, but aside from that, the Defense Base Act settlement amounts are calculated similarly.

Getting the exact number can be challenging as it depends on different factors. For example, the severity of your condition, your weekly earnings, how long your contract lasted, your age, and the date when you left service can all skew the final Defense Base Act settlement amounts.

This doesn’t mean it’s impossible to illustrate an average range of settlements for general injuries. 

We have to remind you that this is an average range of Defense Base Act settlement amounts, and no one can guarantee that your particular condition will fall under this range. Still, here’s what you can expect to receive on average:

1. PTSD: $100k – $500k
2. Hearing loss: $50k – $100k
3. Other general injuries: $100k – $500k

Keep in mind that it may take a while to process your claim. While you can receive your money very quickly for some injuries, for example, six months on average for hearing loss. Other injuries can be somewhat slow, for example, a  PTSD claim might take upwards of two years to process

How to receive the best settlement

Insurance companies are the ones that usually start the negotiation process over the settlement. You might already know where we’re going with this – they’ll try to save money. 

An injured contractor settling for the first offer is the best-case scenario for them, so they’ll use all the tactics in the book to achieve this goal. For example, they might try to take advantage of a contractor’s ignorance by asking them to reveal the amount they expect.

This is why you should never enter negotiations without a lawyer present. A lawyer with the necessary knowledge about DBA claims and the average Defense Base Act settlement amounts can look past these tactics and help you avoid shooting yourself in the foot. 

If you want to get the best legal counsel for your DBA claim,

Contact RITE if you need a team of experts who have helped many injured contractors receive fair Defense Base Act settlement amounts. Call (904) 500-RITE (7483) or send us an email to and rest easy, knowing that you can receive the settlement you deserve.