Established in 1941, the primary goal of the Defense Base Act was to cover workers on military bases outside the United States. The act was amended to include public works contracts with the government for the building of non-military projects such as dams, schools, harbors, and roads abroad. A further amendment added a vast array of enterprises revolving around the national security of the United States and its allies. Today, almost any contract with an agency of the U.S. government, for work outside the U.S., whether military in nature or not, will likely require Defense Base Act coverage.
Defense Base Act required to be applied on U.S. Funded Operation in Somalia
Eugene McMullen was a former employee of Overseas African. He was hired in New York City, and assigned to a construction project at Chisimaio, Somalia, Africa. While working on the project, McMullen contracted a skin disorder, diagnosed as neurodermatitis. The disease eventually forced him to go to the U.S. for treatment. All of the parties agreed the disorder was potentially a legitimate basis for a compensation award. McMullen’s DBA lawyer had created a successful claim, approved by the deputy commissioner and then ordered by the district court. The only remaining issue, the defense base act injury lawyer pointed out, was “St. Paul’s (Insurance) position that the DBA didn’t even apply to their U.S. workers in Somalia.”
McMullen’s died from unrelated causes about 5 days after the hearing on his claim before Department of Labor’s (DOL) deputy commissioner. His survivors, having retained a defense base act lawyer, maintained the claim. St. Paul Insurance argued “that neither the DOL nor the federal court had any jurisdiction to enter an award and judgment under the Defense Base Act.” St. Paul argued the construction contract was actually between the employer and the Republic of Somalia. As well, they argued that while the employment contract may have been “approved and financed” by the United States, there should be an “exception” as a matter of law to jurisdiction of McMullen’s worker compensation claims under the Defense Base Act.
The Court ruled in favor of the defense base act lawyer’s argument: “Apparently this highly technical argument is a bit of an afterthought, for both the employer and St. Paul thought that the Chisimaio project was a Defense Base Act project and respectively sought and supplied insurance coverage in relation to it.” The court then quoted from the employment contract: “(T)he statutory benefits for death or injury to which the Employee may be entitled under the applicable Federal law of the United States including but not limited to the Defense Base Act and War Hazards Compensation Act. Said workmen’s compensation insurance shall also include coverage of Employee for illness due to endemic diseases of Somalia.”
The court agreed with the McMullen family’s DBA attorney and ordered St. Paul to immediately pay the award of more than $12,000.
Defense Base Act Vehicle Injuries
Defense Base Act (DBA) workers can face extreme hazards and risks. For this reason, Defense Base Act workers are seriously injured or killed across the world. A great many DBA workers are injured while riding in a vehicle. Below is a list of common vehicle injuries:
IEDs: Riding a vehicle in Iraq and Afghanistan can be extremely dangerous. There is danger from IED’s (improvised explosive device) to snipers. An IED is a homemade roadside bomb constructed and deployed on public roads. IED explosions leave craters. They rip vehicles apart and disfigure, injure, and kill the DBA workers in the vehicles.
Vehicle Accidents: DBA workers are seriously injured in vehicle accidents due to reckless driving that often results from extreme anxiety while driving. In many areas of Iraq and Afghanistan, there is no enforcement of traffic and speeding laws. Bumpy roads are very common in Iraq and Afghanistan. One bad jolt can cause severe neck and back injuries. Also, many vehicles become worn out quickly due to bad roads
If you or a loved one have been injured, or suffered a wrongful death while employed as a non-military civilian contractor, you should find out your rights under the Defense Base Act before signing any documents. A defense base act lawyer can help you find the expert care and compensation that you deserve.