Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a serious psychiatric condition. It impacts many private military contractors working and living in war zones, after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. In World War II and II, PTSD was commonly referred to as “combat fatigue” or “shell shock”. If you believe that you may be experiencing symptoms of PTSD due to your work overseas, read further. This article will help determine if you have a claim for PTSD pursuant to the Defense Base Act.
Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Military contractors suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder experience intense, troubling thoughts and feelings relating to their experience overseas that unfortunately may last much longer after the traumatic event ended.
Common PTSD symptoms include reliving the event in nightmares or flashbacks, experiencing extreme sadness, fear and anger. Military contractors may also feel very detached or estranged from other people. PTSD may cause those suffering from the disorder to completely avoid social settings and other people that remind them of the traumatic event or events. Those suffering from PTSD may have extremely strong reactions to loud noises.
Other symptoms of PTSD that some contractors may experience include an inability to recall specific aspects of the traumatic event. Other military contractors experience distorted thoughts about the cause or consequences of the event leading to sometimes wrongly blaming themselves for injuries of others or having feelings of guilt or shame.
What is the Defense Base Act?
In short, the Defense Base Act, or DBA, is a federal workers compensation program, that protects workers employed overseas who work under U.S. government contracts, such as embassies, military bases and in combat operations in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia and other locations.
Do you need a Defense Base Act lawyer to file your PTSD claim?
The short answer is yes, for nearly all cases. All-to-often contractors attempt to litigate their DBA cases themselves. I hear from contractors that they are not the “suing” type, or they say that the insurance carrier adjuster has been “nice” to them. Probably every week, I receive phone calls from former PMCs asking if they can have their case reopened after a settlement.
Oftentimes, I am hired only after an insurance carrier terminates or reduces a contractor’s pay, refuses to authorize a particular medical procedure or offers to settle a case for a lowball amount.
The best time to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer is at the very beginning of the case. As such, You will have a DBA lawyer, an advocate, on your side ready to go if the carrier reduces or stops your pay, or refuses to provide medical care. Having an attorney on your side at the beginning of a claim is important because it may take weeks to obtain medical records, X-rays, MRIs, etc. from physicians. These records are needed quickly when insurance companies delay, deny or defend your claim.
When I am retained, I immediately request all medical and psychiatric records and regularly obtain medical records. Along with my top-notch DBA Paralegal, Sarah, we regularly have meetings with clients with PTSD claims to prepare them for recorded statements, evaluations set up by the insurance companies, vocational interviews, depositions, functional capacity evaluations and more. The key to a successful DBA claim is preparation.
Having me as your DBA lawyer early on, means that you will have an experienced attorney ready to step in and fight for your rights without any delay. I will quickly take your case up to the Department of Labor and the Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ), the moment the insurance company does not do what they are supposed to do, which is to fairly compensate you and provide medical care.
I do not charge a consultation fee. Our hourly fees are paid for separately by the insurance company after a settlement. It is not part of your compensation payment and is not deducted from your settlement. You will not receive a bill from us. I do not take any percentage of your PTSD settlement. You essentially have a lawyer for free to make sure that DBA insurance companies, AIG, Starr Indemnity, Allied World and Gallagher Bassett (third-party administrator) do what they are required to do.
How to prove a PTSD claim
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder claims are difficult claims, and all the more reason to hire an experienced DBA lawyer. Oftentimes, PTSD symptoms take months to come to light. Contractors may also wait to get help because they are afraid of a stigma or that they may lose their security clearance. Many PMCs do not even know that they may be eligible for benefits under the Defense Base Act as a result of being diagnosed with PTSD.
The most important person in your life, and your DBA claim, is not your lawyer, but your doctor. What he or she does, and what he writes in his records, have a large impact on a DBA clam. As a PMC, under the DBA, you are entitled to choose your own doctor. Do not allow the insurance company to choose. Look for a board-certified, experienced psychiatrist or psychologist. We will use your physician’s expert medical testimony and records to prove your PTSD case and obtain benefits for you.
As veteran of the Army’s 3rd Ranger Battalion, and injury attorney for twenty years, I known for being a warrior for my private military contractor clients in obtaining medical and compensation benefits. When you hire me as your Defense Base Act lawyer, you will have me working on your case with my highly skilled DBA paralegal, Sarah. Your case will never be passed onto an associate, as is the case in many other law firms. For more information and to help determine if you have a claim for PTSD pursuant to the Defense Base Act., call me at 877-DBA-LAW1 day or night or use this contact form to reach us by email.