What do you do if you file a claim under the Defense Base Act and it is ultimately rejected by the Benefits Review Board?  Interestingly enough, there isn’t a simple answer.  

When we think of the court system, whether it is a trial court or an administrative law court that handle workers’ compensation cases, we expect specifically spelled out steps and rules for filing cases all the way through to the end of any appellate process.  Not so with the Defense Base Act.  In fact, there hasn’t been a decisive answer in decades over what to do if the Benefits Review Board denies a Defense Base Act claim.  

Some of the confusion is because the Defense Base Act is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, but is also an act unto itself.  Many courts see the rules about where these cases should be appealed differently.  Appeals always have specific deadlines, and they’re generally is not much time between a denial of a claim and the deadline in which to file an appeal.  This is why it is so important to already have Defense Base Act claim attorneys in Jacksonville on board from day one of your claim.

This article will discuss the conflicting views on the Defense Base Act appellate process, which should give you an overview of how complicated these types of cases can be.  If, after reading this article, you have more questions about your own circumstances, then the Defense Base Act claim attorneys in Jacksonville at RITE Law are here to help.  

At RITE Law, we have a group of Defense Base Act 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.

1. Cause of the Confusion

Up until 1972, everyone was in agreement that Defense Base Act cases should be appealed to the United States district court.  However, the 1972 amendments to the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act stated that any appeals from the Benefits Review Board’s ruling would be to the United States court of appeals where the injury occurred.  

There was, however,  a conflicting provision in the Defense Base Act that the proceedings “shall be instituted in the United States district court of the judicial district wherein is located the office of the deputy commissioner whose compensation order is involved[.]”

That rule led different courts to interpret the correct place for filing an appeal in two conflicting ways.  The two camps could not agree on whether the proper place for the appeal was in the court of appeals or the district court.  

Accordingly, you will need a knowledgeable attorney to help you in these types of cases.  The Defense Base Act claim attorneys in Jacksonville at RITE Law can help.

2. Some Hold that Appeals Should Go to the Court of Appeals

Over time, a number of courts throughout the country issued rulings on why the Court of Appeals was the proper place to file an appeal for a case filed under the Defense Base Act.  Thus, the First Circuit, Second Circuit, Seventh Circuit, and Ninth Circuit, now hold that the appeal should be filed with the Court of Appeals.  Some courts come to that conclusion because, they reason, Congress intended for the 1972 Amendments to the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act to apply to the Defense Base Act as well.

3. Others Find that Appeals Should Go to the United States District Court

In contrast to the courts listed above, the Fourth Circuit, Fifth Circuit, Sixth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit, and the D.C. Circuit, find that Defense Base Act appeals should be taken to the appropriate U.S. District Court.  Some courts come to that conclusion by finding that the 1972 Amendments did not specifically change the law for Defense Base Act cases.  Thus, the reason that while the intention of Congress may have been to change the law, it wasn’t spelled out clearly.  These courts argue that it isn’t their job to change the law, but instead to apply the law.

Florida is under the purview of the Eleventh Circuit, so any Defense Base Act claim that needs to be appealed by the Benefits Review Board should be filed with the appropriate United States District Court in Florida.  Yet, there is still the issue of venue, and this along with the ability to transfer cases for differing reasons results in a fair amount of forum shopping within claims filed under the Defense Base Act.  There are so many legal avenues to consider for one of these cases, that it is important to take your case to the Defense Base Act claim attorneys in Jacksonville where you will get the compensation you deserve. 

Let a RITE Law Attorney Help You with Your Defense Base Act Claim

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 Defense Base Act claim attorneys in Jacksonville.

Without help from the RITE team, making your own 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.

The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.  You should not make a decision whether or not to contact an attorney based upon the information in this blog post.  No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied.  If you require legal advice, please consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.