More than any other area of law, Defense Base Act claims should never be settled without first speaking with an experienced DBA attorney. It costs absolutely nothing for you to talk to us. Our DBA Attorney, Tim Nies, a veteran of the 75th Army Rangers and a former insurance company trial attorney knows how to win, knows how to battle insurance company lawyers and knows how to maximize DBA settlements. Although every case is different, Tim has settled DBA cases totaling many millions of dollars. A recent case he settled for a back injury involving herniated discs settled for over $850,000.
Because private military contractors work for military contractors in deadly war zones, such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, they typically make much more than workers stateside. Rightfully so. Because of the higher pay, most contractors usually are paid at the maximum compensation rate (which is currently approximately $1,510.76 per week) while out of work because of an injury. Visit the DOL Maximum Compensation Rate Chart.
Because DBA insurance companies must pay this amount weekly, insurance companies, such as AIG, Starr Indemnity, Allied World, Zurich, and others want to settle these cases quickly after injured contractors reach MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement). MMI typically occurs when an injured worker reaches a state where his or her condition cannot be improved any further or when treatment plateau is reached.
Insurance carriers, for lack of a better phrase, offer low-ball settlement in hopes that contractors take the settlement, which will then relieve the insurance carrier from any further compensation to be paid and, equally important, any future medical care relating to the injury. Always remember that DBA insurance companies are businesses, not doing business to help you, but to make money, so if an unrepresented injured contractor settles a case worth $650,000 for $50,000, they just made $600,000. Now, multiply that figure by just 50 unrepresented contractors agreeing to the same settlement. The insurance company just saved nearly $30 million at the expense of injured contractors!
Clients have told me in the past that insurance company adjusters were nice and cordial to them, until it came down to them demanding the injured contractor take a low settlement. Many described being pressured into signing off on a low settlement. For many unscheduled injuries, such as spine, hip and shoulder injuries, insurance companies will offer less than $30,000 and tell the contractor that this is the most they will settle for. This range is not the most the insurance company has and surely will not begin to compensate you for your future wage loss if unable to return to work and future medical bills. If you receive such a demand to settle, the first thing you should do is call an attorney experienced with DBA claims. It will cost you nothing.
Insurance companies will pay our fees for the out of their money if the case settles. If it does not settle, we do not collect a fee from you. All fees must be approved by the Department of Labor. If an attorney collects money from you without such an approval, beware. Also, if an attorney has you sign an agreement where they will receive a percentage of any settlement, hire a new attorney as that attorney is breaking the law. Contingency fees, where an attorney receives a percentage of a settlement, are not permitted under the Defense Base Act.