What Is The Defense Base Act?
In 1941 The Defense Base Act was adopted by Congress to cover civilian workers stationed on military bases outside the United States who were contracted to work on national defense or public works contracts or projects. This act covers civilian contractors who complete or further missions that were historically the responsibility of the military. By law, contractors are required to provide insurance (similar to workers’ compensation) to pay out benefits in the event an employee gets injured while working overseas.
Who Is Covered By The Defense Base Act?
Many U.S. based companies hire civilian employees to perform work for the U.S. Department of Defense overseas. If you’ve been working outside the United States in any of the following capacities, most likely you’re covered by the DBA:
• private entities on U.S. military bases or lands used by our government for military purposes;
• public work contracts with any U.S. government agency, including contracts related to national defense or war operations;
• Foreign Assistance Act contracts approved and funded by the U.S. government;
• U.S. employers providing welfare or related services for the benefit of the military;
• subcontractor on a contract for any of the above projects;
• American contractor performing public works at a military base in a U.S. territory outside the continent in support of military assistance programs within allied nations;
• welfare and morale project.
If you meet any of the above criteria you may be entitled to weekly compensation while unable to work, compensation for reasonable and necessary medical care, and compensation for a permanent disability that developed as a result of the work performed. The spouse and minor children of a worker who is killed on the job are also entitled to benefits under the DBA.
This law does not only apply to American citizens. Persons who live outside the United States and have been hired by a U.S. contractor to work overseas (such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Sudan, Uganda, South Africa and Korea) and have been injured are also entitled to receive benefits under the Defense Base Act.
What Type Of Injuries Are Covered By The Defense Base Act?
Injuries caused by construction accidents, rocket-propelled grenade attacks, roof and building falls, forklift accidents, power tool injuries, explosions, fires, and electrocutions are all covered by the Defense Base Act.
Unfortunately, when it comes to DBA claims, many insurance companies try to deny benefits, pay less than they should, and are slow to report injuries – all affecting the payments due to injured or disabled workers. Sometimes, a prompt payment can have hidden disadvantages – such as paying less to the injured worker than s/he was due.
It’s important you contact a lawyer who understands the DBA so you can maximize insurance company payouts, if:
(1) you’ve been injured or;
(2) a loved one was killed overseas while working on a United States military base under a government contract for public works or national defense.