What Is The Defense Base Act?

It is not every day that a person must address the question, What is the Defense Base Act? This is because the Defense Base Act is a specific federal law. The writers created it to apply to only a unique set of individuals in very particular circumstances.

Suppose you are a contract worker for the U.S. government in U.S. territories or at U.S. military bases located outside the continental United States and your work has caused you injury. In that case, the Defense Base Act is likely relevant to your situation. At Grossman Attorneys at Law, we specialize in cases involving the Defense Base Act and stand ready to help you understand the law and get you the compensation you deserve. 

What Is the Defense Base Act?

The Defense Base Act is a federal statute that protects individuals employed at United States defense bases overseas.

The Defense Base Act’s purpose is to help address medical treatment and provide financial compensation to defense contractors and their employees if their injury is while they are employed.

The United States Department of Labor administers the Defense Base Act.

The Law and History of the Defense Base Act 

The United States Department of Labor explains the fundamental laws that relate to the Defense Base Act. The Labor Department is the central government agency at play because the Defense Base Act addresses injuries in employment scope and course. 

Enacted in 1941, the Defense Base Act now offers a type of extended workers’ compensation coverage to persons working in public works or national defense on American military bases outside the United States. It also extends to persons working to provide morale and welfare services through the United Service Organization (USO) and other similar organizations.

The Help the Defense Base Act Provides

If one successfully files a Defense Base Act claim and the Department of Labor does not dispute it, the Department will grant the worker assistance.

After all, this is the point of the Defense Base Act: to aid workers employed at United States defense bases overseas who suffer injury while employed (note that this does not mean while at work if you are in a combat zone).

The help may include:

  • Medical treatment, including hospital service, medicine, and supplies, during the process of recovery, as required;
  • Financial benefits, such as regular payments until the injured worker returns to work or is capable of returning to work and suitable work is available, or a lump sum payment; and
  • Attorney fees for the legal services the worker employed.

Like most other workers’ compensation systems, the law will not award damages to the injured party relating to pain and suffering. If the injury results in a worker’s death, the help may come in the form of payments to the deceased’s family. It is important to note that one does not need to be a citizen of the United States to be covered by the Defense Base Act.

What Is the Defense Base Act for Contractors?

The Defense Base Act for Contractors is a term individuals use in place of the Defense Base Act. The Act is sometimes also referred to as the Federal Defense Base Act. While the terminology differs, all three terms refer to the same law, with the Defense Base Act being the correct legal term. People also use the acronym DBA to describe the Defense Base Act. 

When Specifically Does the Defense Base Act Apply?

The federal government created the Defense Base Act to cover defense employees injured in the scope and course of employment in specific types of employment. As stated by the Department of Labor, these include:

  • Work 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 the U.S. Territories and possessions;
  • Work on contracts approved and funded by the U.S. under the Foreign Assistance Defense Base Act, which among other things provides for cash sale of military equipment, materials, and services to its allies if the contract is performed outside of the United States;
  • Work for American employers providing welfare or similar services outside the United States for the benefit of the Armed Services, e.g., the United Service Organizations (USO); and
  • Any injury or death occurring to any such employee during transportation to or from the place of employment, where the employer or the U.S. provides the transportation or the cost thereof.

The above is an illustrative list. Other circumstances may also invoke Defense Base Act protection for injured workers. 

How Do I File a Claim?

Suffering an injury can lead to physical pain and emotional confusion. A workplace injury is no different. You should immediately seek authorization for medical treatment.

Contact a lawyer who specializes in labor law, specifically Defense Base Act cases. The lawyer will assist you in filing:

  • An Employer’s First Report of Injury, Form LS-202;
  • Notice to the to Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation (by mail or electronically) when required; and
  • Any additional necessary forms, notices, or medical reports.

There is a precise and fast-moving time frame with each step. It would be best if you had a lawyer as soon as you have knowledge of an injury. The same lawyer will follow up on your claim and litigate if needed to get you assistance.

Once I File, Does the Law Guarantee Compensation?

An attorney can ever guarantee a case outcome. The law does not require that the Department of Labor approve every claim. The Defense Base Act has very particular technical rules. Several tricky situations could exclude someone from coverage. 

In addition, the Department of Labor may dispute even valid claims. The government may contest because:

  • The employer thinks the injury did not occur in the course and scope of your work; 
  • There was not applicable Defense Base Act coverage at the time of injury;
  • There is no medical evidence to support the claim; or 
  • There is a conflict of medical evidence.

You must contact an attorney if you believe you may be eligible for relief under the Defense Base Act so that the attorney can thoroughly analyze your situation and file everything in a timely manner. Your attorney can then follow your claim through to a conclusion. When you engage an experienced lawyer, you create your best chance at success. 

Isn’t It Hard to Fight the Government?

Don’t be intimidated that your situation involves the United States government. Attorneys specializing in the Defense Base Act are very capable of challenging government adversaries. They are well equipped to negotiate with or go to court against government representatives. 

Your rights do not end when you engage in employment with any entity—even the government. Still wondering, What is the federal defense base act? The most important thing to remember is that it is an act to defend and protect workers like yourself.

Grossman Attorneys at Law: The Experts in Defense Base Act Law

Grossman Attorneys at Law aggressively approach getting their clients the answers they need and the compensation they deserve. They help clients in every walk of life injured in the course of employment as military contractors. Grossman Attorneys at Law’s team of lawyers offers legal excellence, 24/7 availability, personal care to each client, and decades of experience. Reach us online or by calling 1-800-940-8048. You want a team that has handled thousands of claims and has specific experience investigating and litigating the Defense Base Act. That means you need Grossman Attorneys at Law.

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