Defending Those Who Defend Us®

Protection for Military Contractors: Understanding the Defense Base Act (DBA)

If you’re working overseas on a United States government contract, you’re likely to be covered by the Defense Base Act (DBA). It offers benefits to compensate you for injuries or disabilities you received on the job. What is the DBA, exactly, and how does it work? Keep reading to learn the basics.

What is it?

The Defense Base Act was first established in 1941 as an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA). While the LHWCA gave workers’ compensation benefits to employees working on overseas US military territory, the DBA was added and later expanded to offer a wider scope of coverage.

What does it do?

In addition to LHWCA coverage, the DBA provides benefits for an injured employee’s medical expenses, a portion of their wages for the injury’s duration, and medically necessary ongoing treatments for any permanent injuries or disabilities.

Who is protected?

Most contracts with a United States government agency now require DBA coverage for work performed outside of the US, even if they aren’t military in nature. According to the Department of Labor, you generally get DBA coverage under six main categories:

  1. You work for a private employer on a US military base, or on any overseas land used by the US for military purposes.
  2. You work on a public work contract overseas, like a construction or service contract connected to national defense or war activities, with any US government agency.
  3. You work on a Foreign Assistance Act contract performed outside of the US, whether it involves selling military equipment, materials, and services to US allies.
  4. You work for an American employer providing welfare or a related service for the Armed Services, and your work takes place outside of the US.
  5. Your injury or death, as an employee working in one of the above categories, happened during transportation to your workplace (and your employer provides transportation or pays the cost)
  6. Your injury or death occurred off-duty while you were living and working in an austere environment (e.g. Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Horn of Africa) provided by your employer or the Armed Services. (i.e. injured in the gym while working on a combat outpost or Forward Operating Base.)

Who is not covered?

Anyone who meets the criteria gets coverage regardless of their nationality or citizenship. However, you don’t get DBA coverage in the following three cases:

  1. You’re an employee subject to the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act.
  2. You’re an employee working in agriculture, domestic service, or casual employment.
  3. You’re the master or crew member of a vessel.

What can you recover?

Your compensation benefits are calculated as two-thirds of your average weekly wage, although there is a maximum weekly rate. You are also entitled to any medical treatment required by your injury. Death benefits are paid to a surviving spouse or child at one-half of the employee’s average weekly earnings, or at two-thirds if there are two or more eligible survivors, with a maximum rate per week. You may also be able to cover losses like funeral expenses, lost earnings, and more.

What injuries are covered?

The DBA covers any work-related injuries. If you were injured or your loved one was killed during the course of employment, or as a result of work duties, you are most likely entitled to receive benefits under the Act.

If you are injured on the job, get medical attention and notify your supervisor as soon as possible. You should then get in touch with a reputable attorney to make sure you’re compensated fairly. You may even wish to seek out benefits for delayed onset injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Call Military Justice Attorneys to make use of our expertise in the realm of DBA claims. We will fight for your right to fair and just compensation.

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