The Defense Base Act is a Federal Workers’ Compensation Act. It primarily applies to persons injured while working for private contractors that are providing services to the United States military on foreign military bases or on other foreign lands used for United States military purposes.
The Defense Base Act was enacted in 1941 as an extension to the Federal Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, which means that the same procedures are generally applied to administer both acts and the same remedies are generally available to workers covered under both of those acts.
Hello, I’m Art Lenard and I’m an attorney who specializes in claims under the Longshore and Defense Base Acts. There are two areas I would like to particularly discuss regarding the Defense Base Act.
First, coverage under the act is no-fault. That means you don’t have to prove that your injuries or illness was due to your employer’s fault or someone else’s fault. It doesn’t matter if your injuries or illness were even caused by your own fault. If you were injured or became ill at work because of your job, you’re entitled to benefits under the act.
Second, what benefits are provided for under the act? First, medical care is provided for. That means you’re entitled to full medical care and for that medical care to be provided for a doctor of your choice. You do not have to have medical care by a doctor appointed by your employer or by its insurance carrier.
Disability compensation benefits are also provided for under the act. If you are unable to work while you are recovering from your injuries or illness, you’re entitled to temporary disability benefits. The amount of benefits is generally calculated at two thirds of the average weekly wage you were earning at the time you were injured or became ill subject to statutory maximum limits.
Once you’ve recovered from your injuries or illness to the maximum medical extent possible, you may be entitled to further disability benefits if you are permanently disabled.
If you suffered an injury to a scheduled body part, and that means a body part that’s specifically listed under the act, you are generally entitled to compensation based on the extent of disability to that body part.
For example injuries to hands, feet, legs, and arm are scheduled disabilities. And generally your doctor, according to applicable guidelines, will determine percentage of the disability and that’s the bases of the disability compensation for scheduled body part injuries.
If you suffer an injury to a non-scheduled body part, and that typically includes the spine, the neck, or the back, then the act provides for a different method of determining your permanent disability of compensation benefits, and that is generally based on how those injuries affect your ability to earn income in the future.
If either a scheduled or a non-scheduled injury causes you to be permanently and totally disabled, meaning unable to work in any capacity, then you will generally be entitled to what’s called Permanent Total Disability Benefits.
Under the Defense Base Act, your employer or its insurance carrier is supposed to voluntarily provide you with the benefits you’re entitled to.
If they do not voluntarily provide you with these benefits, you are generally entitled to have an attorney represent you at the cost of the employer or its insurance carrier, at no cost to you.
If you believe that you or a loved one is entitled to benefits under the Defense Base Act, we are available to speak with you to help you understand your rights and to protect your rights and we would be happy to do so.