We want to work.  We do not want to get injured such that we are forced to not be productive.  Also, we would rather not have to deal with insurance claims, or waste time fighting an insurance company about what is, or is not, covered by workers’ compensation.  

But sometimes legitimate accidents at work happen. And when they do, we hope that we will be compensated appropriately for the costs of our injuries.  That is what workers’ compensation is all about – making sure that both workers and employers have peace of mind when something unforeseen happens in the workplace.  

In this article, we are going to talk about the type of workers’ compensation insurance that covers those non-military employees who work on bases overseas.  That workers’ compensation program is called The Defense Base Act, or the DBA for short.  

If, after reading this article, you have more questions about your own circumstances, then the DBA claim attorneys in Jacksonville at RITE Law are here to help.  At RITE Law, we have a group of DBA claim attorneys in Jacksonville 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.

What is the Defense Base Act?

Many years ago, Congress passed the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C. § 901-950 to help those who were injured while working in America’s harbors.  Then, that workers’ compensation program was extended to cover people who are not part of the military (and are therefore not covered by workers’ comp for service members).  The reason was that Congress realized that there was no coverage for injured workers outside the United States on U.S. military bases or under a contract with the U.S. government for public works or for national defense.  Thus, the Defense Base Act (DBA) was born.

Accordingly, if you are a civilian working outside the U.S. on a military base, or you are under contract by the U.S. government for public works or national defense, then you are covered by the DBA.

Let’s take some time to understand how DBA compensation works if you are injured on the job. 

The Concept of the Average Weekly Wage

If you get injured, then the first question becomes:  how much will I get paid while I’m out on disability, recovering from my injuries?  The answer relates to the concept of the Average Weekly Wage.  

Typically, you might assume that your Average Weekly Wage simply requires a glance at your weekly paystub.  In many cases, that may be all that is required.  However, sometimes, determining the Average Weekly Wage could be more complicated.  In fact, there is more than one way to make the Average Weekly Wage calculation.  One way is based on your work schedule, and the other is related to the type of injury you sustained.

1. Calculating the Average Weekly Wage Based on Work Schedule

There are different methods for calculating your Average Weekly Wage (AWW) based on the work schedule.  The first is based on a 5- or 6-day work schedule per week.  The second is based on a 7-day work schedule or a casual working schedule. 

a) The 5- and 6-day per week schedule.  If you work 5-days, or 6-days, per week on a consistent basis, then the AWW calculation is relatively straightforward.  All you do is take your average earnings for the year (annual) and divide that number by 52.  If you have not worked for a whole year at your position, then the AWW is calculated using the AWW of an employee in the same type of job, and in the same regional location as you.

b) The 7-day per week schedule for casual workers.  There are occasions when the formulas above do not work or applying the formula would be unfair to the injured worker.  So, if you are in one of those situations, a determination would be made to arrive at an annual average earning that is reasonable based on the type of job you have and the geographic location in which you work.  The derived annual average salary would then be divided by 52 to reach the appropriate AWW.

2. Calculating AWW Based on the Type of Injury

The classification of your injury impacts the compensation calculation under the DBA.  In particular, compensation relies on whether your injury leaves you totally disabled or partially disabled, and whether the disability is permanent or temporary.

a) Permanent Total Disability.  If you are totally disabled as a result of an injury at work, and you will never be able to return to the work you did prior to the injury, then the compensation will be two-thirds of your AWW.

b). Temporary Total Disability.  If you are totally disabled, yet the disability only lasts for a certain amount of time, then you would receive two-thirds of your AWW for the duration of your disability.

c). Permanent Partial Disability.  If your injury falls under a specified schedule under the Longshore Act (e.g., loss of arm, or loss of hearing), then your compensation will be determined by that schedule.  For example, loss of hearing in one ear will result in two-thirds of your AWW paid to you for 52 weeks under the statutory schedule.  If, however, your injury does not fall under the schedule, then you will receive compensation while the partial disability persists at the rate of two-thirds of your loss of wages.  In other words, you would receive your AWW minus your post-injury wage-earning ability.

d). Temporary Partial Disability.  Your compensation will be based on two-thirds of your loss of wages, i.e., your AWW minus your post-injury wage-earning ability.  Your compensation will last for as long as your partial disability persists, but for no longer than five years.

For Help with a DBA Claim, Call the DBA Claims Attorneys in Jacksonville at RITE Law

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 DBA claims attorneys 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.