Workers injured or killed while working overseas for a United States government contractor or subcontractor are covered under the Defense Base Act. This Act follows the Longshore and Harbor Workers Act in most respects. This means it is a no-fault workers' compensation program, and the benefits are defined by federal statute. The matters are handled administratively through the District Director and Claims Examiners at the regional office closest to the claimant's place of residence.
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Unless there is a third party who is responsible for the injury or death, the administrative remedies set the limits on recovery and no access to the court through a traditional lawsuit is permitted.
In addition to payment of all reasonable and necessary medical expenses, and a set maximum for funeral expenses in the event of death, the amount of benefits is determined primarily based upon the worker's average weekly wage. There are several methods by which the average weekly wage can be computed, depending on the individual claimant's particular circumstances. Attorneys' fees are permitted only when approved by the District Director, and are based upon the attorney successfully obtaining benefits for the injured or deceased worker's family, that had not been paid timely or in the proper amounts. In those situations, the fees awarded are the responsibility of the employer and its insurance carrier, thus potential claimants should not be concerned about having to pay their attorney money up front or out of any ultimate recovery. Thus, there is absolutely no reason for a potential claimant under the Defense Base Act for delaying contacting an experienced attorney for advice regarding their particular situation.
Please feel free to contact our office for an evaluation of your potential Defense Base Act claim at no charge and with no obligation.
Due to the unique challenges and working conditions under which employees of overseas Government contractors must live and work, there is the potential for obtaining coverage under the Defense Base Act that would not exist if the claim were to have originated within the United States. This firm was involved in a Defense Base Act claim which originated when a retired general fell in the bathtub of his employer provided housing and suffered a significant brain injury. Since the housing was provided by the employer, and due to the time difference between his place of work and the United States, he was required to be available at all hours for telephone and fax messages. Even though the general was not "working" at the time of his unfortunate fall, he was covered by the Defense Base Act.
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