I am a Defense Base Act lawyer and an Army Ranger Veteran. I have been an injury attorney since 2001 and a DBA lawyer since 2010. Over the years, I have come to learn that certain tasks completed while still overseas, before coming home, will help DBA claims. Following these tips will also speed up DBA compensation payments and result in less stressful claims. Below are the top 5 DBA law tasks to complete if you are injured overseas, and have not yet returned home for medical care.
1.) REPORT YOUR INJURY TO YOUR SUPERVISOR, IN WRITING, RIGHT AWAY.
The Defense Base Act requires that injured workers notify their employers of injuries within 30 days of sustaining injuries. Notify your employer in writing. Make sure to leave with a copy of the incident/illness report.
2.) SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION OVERSEAS AT THE BASE CLINIC.
Make sure to tell the medic, PA or doctor all the symptoms you are having, so it is documented. Make sure to leave a copy of your medical records.
3.) TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE SCENE OF THE INCIDENT WHERE YOU WERE INJURED AND OF YOUR INJURIES.
Oftentimes photographs tell a thousand words in the world of Defense Base Act claims. I use photographs at mediations, settlement conferences, and informal conferences with the Department of Labor and at hearings before the Office of Administrative Law Judges.
For instance, for many spine injuries, patients are restricted from certain physical activities. It is important that doctors back home know the size and weights of objects lifted and worn at work, such as body armor, weapon systems, etc. Other times, when DBA insurance company adjusters doubt the mechanism of injury, a photograph of the step a worker fell off of, or a photograph of damage to a bicycle a worker was injured on may help. Also, photos of bruises, lacerations, and other evidence of physical injuries may help your DBA claim.
3.) WRITE DOWN THE NAMES AND CONTACT INFORMATION OF WITNESSES.
Oftentimes, fellow contractors/witnesses, leave for other contracts or return back to their homes. It is not easy to locate fellow contractors afterward, so after your injury, copy down the name, telephone, and emails of any eyewitnesses. As a DBA attorney, I typically contact these witnesses early on in the case to get their statements or to take their depositions.
4.) SEARCH FOR A DOCTOR BACK HOME BEFORE LEAVING FOR HOME.
Since the Pandemic, it has been difficult for many workers to find doctors in their home states who have availability soon after workers return home. If you arrive home on a Monday and think you will be able to see your selected doctor that week, you are mistaken. In many cases, especially following the Pandemic, specialty doctors, such as neurosurgeons, do not have availability for weeks. One client of mine was forced to wait 45 days to see the orthopaedic surgeon he selected. Further, reputable doctors have a longer wait than less-than-reputable doctors.
Therefore, the earlier the jump on the process to obtain medical care under the DBA, the better. Look for a specialist near your home who is board-certified. Ask friends and family. Research online. Make an appointment for an evaluation to take place right after you return. Don’t wait until you return home to set an appointment. You have the right to a physician of your choice, so look for a great doctor. Remember, the purpose of this article, Top 5 DBA Law Tasks to Complete, is to help you. The most important person to your DBA claim is not your lawyer, it is your doctor. So, act quickly, research, and find a doctor you feel good about.
5.) TALK TO A DEFENSE BASE ACT LAWYER BEFORE RETURNING HOME.
There are many other tasks that you should complete before returning home. Diligent DBA lawyers will start working on his/her clients’ claims right away and make sure the claims are filed with the Department of Labor without delay. Further, a DBA lawyer will also review with you what not to do before hiring an attorney. For instance, you should never agree to a “recorded statement“, Functional Capacity Evaluation, or an IME (independent medical evaluation), without your lawyer being involved.
For more information about the DBA claim process, beyond the top 5 DBA law tasks to complete before returning home, and the settlement of Defense Base Act claims, contact DBA Lawyer Tim Nies, an Army Ranger Veteran, or visit defensebaseactlawyers.com. Tim has litigated DBA cases against every DBA insurance company, including AIG, Starr Indemnity, Gallagher Bassett, Allied World National Assurance Company, Broadspire, and many others. Tim Nies is available on a landline or on Whats App day or night for a free consultation. For additional information, visit our DBA Youtube site: DBA Lawyer.