Injured workers who sustain injuries while working overseas under a government contract may be entitled to compensation and benefits under the Defense Base Act (DBA). The DBA is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), which provides medical treatment, disability benefits, and wage replacement to contractors injured in the course of their employment. One crucial aspect of the DBA is determining when an injured worker should receive their first DBA disability check. In this article, the author, DBA attorney Tim Nies, an Army Ranger veteran, we will explore the factors that influence the timing of the first disability check in DBA cases. It is important to understand that law so you understand when you should receive your first DBA Disability check from the DBA insurance company, which is typically Starr Indemnity (Gallagher Bassett), AIG, ESIS, ACE, Allied World (Broadspire) and a few others.
Initial Reporting and Medical Evaluation
When a contractor sustains an injury while working under a Defense Base Act contract, the first step is to report the injury to the employer as soon as possible. It is important to note that injuries in zones of conflict (war zones) are covered are covered whether or not you are actually working. For example, when contractors sustain injuries while falling when going to the chow hall, or when working out at the gym on base, etc. Prompt reporting is essential to initiate the claims process and ensure that the injured worker receives appropriate medical attention. Once the injury is reported, the employer or its insurance carrier should authorize medical treatment under the Defense Base Act.
The injured contractor will undergo a medical evaluation to assess the extent of the injuries and their impact on their ability to work. Oftentimes, contractors also attend Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCE) to evaluate the disability and restrictions. The medical evaluation plays a crucial role in determining the disability rating and the eligibility for disability benefits. It is important to understand that under the Defense Base Act, injured contractors may choose the physician of their choice. Do not accept a doctor provided to you by the insurance company.
Disability Waiting Period
Similar to other workers’ compensation systems, the Defense Base Act imposes a waiting period before disability benefits can be paid. If you are disabled for more than 3 days, payments are to be issued 14 days from the date your employer first has knowledge of your loss in wages. However, payment for DBA benefits is not overdue until 14 days after that date. This provides the DBA insurance carrier 28 days to issue the first payment. Then, DBA payments should be paid on a bi-weekly basis, except when the employer of DBA insurance carrier disputes liability for benefits and files a LS-207 (Notice of Controversion). If you do not receive your initial compensation check timely, contact a DBA attorney to assist you.
Processing of the DBA Claim
After reporting the injury to your supervisor and initiating medical treatment, the injured worker or their DBA lawyer must file a claim with the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) within one year from the date of injury, by filing the LS-203 form. The OWCP oversees the administration of DBA claims and ensures compliance with the Act’s provisions.
Employer and DBA Insurance Carrier Response
Once the OWCP (DOL) receives the DBA claim, it will notify the employer and its DBA insurance carrier. The employer and DBA insurance carrier have the opportunity to respond to the claim, provide additional documentation or evidence, and raise any objections if necessary.
If the claim is accepted, the employer or its insurance carrier will be responsible for providing disability benefits to the injured worker.
In Defense Base Act claims, the timing of the first disability check for an injured contractor should happen automatically. However, oftentimes DBA carrier delay, deny and defend claims. It is advisable to retain a DBA attorney soon after your injury. If possible, it would be beneficial to your DBA claim, to hire an attorney before you even are sent home for medical care under the DBA. This will help speed
your DBA disability pay. For more information on tasks you should complete before leaving your post, contact our DBA lawyer, Tim Nies.
It is important for injured workers to understand their rights and obligations under the Defense Base Act and work closely with their employer, insurance carrier, and DBA attorney. Our DBA attorney, Tim Nies, an Army Ranger Veteran, is available day and night to answer your questions about your DBA claim and when you should receive your first DBA disability check from the DBA insurance carrier. Tim Nies fights hard for his injured contractors at all stages of the claim, from the initial filing, informal conferences, DBA IMEs, formal hearings at the Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ), and at DBA mediations. DBA lawyer, Tim Nies, represents claimants worldwide for injuries under the DBA, from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Niger, and many other locations and military bases. Call 772-283-8712 or email Tim at [email protected].