Defense Base Act

If you sustain an injury while working abroad for the American government, under U.S. law you are entitled to be compensated for that injury. While this fact is simple, receiving that compensation and maneuvering through the multiple legal aspects of the Defense Base Act is much less straightforward, and exponentially more difficult. Thankfully, the experienced Defense Base Act attorneys at Weltin, Streb & Weltin can help you navigate these twisting currents and get you the compensation you deserve.

With the United States continuing to have a far-reaching military presence around the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of military contractors employed by the American government has grown proportionally. This increase of contractors working with the armed forces means that more and more workers are covered by the Defense Base Act, though many of them do not know the extent of their legal rights as military contractors.

American laws, including the Defense Base Act, provide benefits to military contractors, even if they are not U.S. citizens and are working abroad. For example, if a worker is injured while employed by a contractor of the federal government, you are entitled to compensation by their employer. Combined with the federal Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA), the Defense Base Act provides a series of statutes that protect the rights of government contractors working overseas.

Specific examples of activities covered under the Defense Base Act include:

  • Working under U.S. Foreign Assistance Act contracts which are performed outside the U.S.
  • Working on a U.S. military base or lands used for American military purposes outside of the U.S.
  • Working on a public utilities contract with any American government agency outside the U.S
  • Working to provide welfare or similar services for the benefit of the U.S. Armed Forces outside the U.S.

If you have been hurt while working under any of the above conditions, you are entitled to compensation under the Defense Base Act, no matter what your nationality is.

The Defense Base Act uses the statutes of the LHWCA for most of its fundamental aspects, including forms, compensation rates, schedules for disability ratings, medical benefits, and rules of evidence. The Defense Base Act also advocates that an injured worker is entitled to paid medical care, disability compensation, rehabilitation, temporary and permanent partial disability, and temporary and permanent total disability. If a worker dies while employed to a U.S. military contractor, benefits are also available to immediate family members of the deceased contracted worker.

While your case might seem open-and-shut, contractors and their insurers often retain attorneys to counsel them on each injury claim. There is an undeniable incentive for government contractors to avoid reporting injuries, or to downplay those injuries and the compensation that is due for them. In order to collect compensation for an injury, notice of injury must be given within thirty days, and a claim must be filed within one year. These are the types of limitations that contractors and their insurance companies use against injury victims to minimize the number of claims they have to pay out on. It is important for the worker to seek the advice of a Defense Base Act attorney, so that they can be given the same legal knowledge that the employers have.

The law firm of Weltin, Streb & Weltin has valuable experience in LHWCA claims, as well as Defense Base Act claims. Our Defense Base Act attorneys utilize this substantial experience to represent government contract workers who are injured anywhere in the world. Your case will be overseen with the individualized attention of an experienced DBA attorney, and we will work to make ourselves reachable by email, phone, or any other method convenient to those working abroad. For a free and confidential consultation, contact our office today at (510) 251-6060.