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What rights does the Defense Base Act provide for those with severe bodily injuries? March 13, 2009

Posted by Aaron Walter in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , ,

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have introduced a new range of injuries to standard workers’ compensation – IED attacks, Al Queada rocket attacks, and other war related dangers have resulted in unthinkable internal and external damage, traumatic brain injuries, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Most of the injuries we see coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan are actually of the same nature that we see here in employment in the states – knee injuries like torn knee ligaments or miniscus, shoulder injuries, usually torn rotator cuffs, and back injuries like herniated (slipped), or extruded (ruptured) discs. The human body is fragile and unfortunately there are a select few parts of our bodies that tend to give out under the right/wrong conditions.

Sadly, the dangers of war have introduced new kinds of physical trauma to a system typically reserved for more common problems.  It is important to note that any injured contractor is entitled to:

“such medical, surgical, and other attendance or treatment, nurse and hospital service, medicine, crutches, and apparatus, for such period as the nature of the injury or the process of recovery may require.”  33 U.S.C. Section 907(a)

For those with extreme measures of injuries, this can result in extreme measures of treatment, surgery, and rehabilitation.  

One such example is Ronnie Grigsby of Handen, Idaho. He was thrown from a vehicle in Iraq and suffered a  broken neck and “Traumatic Brain Injury.”  Lucky to be alive, Mr. Grigsby has had a long road back to any form of normalcy. Ronnie has had to re-learn how to walk and talk. He has lost the ability to taste or smell, and sees double without the aid of corrective glasses. 

Recently, the Pentagon has attempt to bring more attention to both minor and major brain injuries in troops and civilian contractors. Most “brain injuries” from Iraq/Afghanistan are only concussions, but some can fundamentally change the way your body operates.

Cases such as Mr. Grigsby’s often require in-home medical attendants, modifications to the injured claimant’s home, prosthetic devices, implanted stimulator units, implanted morphine pumps, or even massage or hot tub therapies.

There is no limit to the costs that the insurer is required to pay. It is not like a health insurance policy with a lifetime limit, or specific coverage limits for certain types of care.  The insurer has the duty:

 “to furnish appropriate medical care for the employee’s injury, and for such period as the nature of the injury or the process of recovery may require.” 20 C.F.R. 702.402

If your condition warrants it and your doctor requests approval of a device, procedure, or treatment, you deserve that treatment from the workers’ compensation insurer. It is important to note that courts have held that if an employee’s injuries are so severe as to require domestic services, the employer must provide them, even to the extent of reimbursing a family member who performs them.

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1. hurtin in iraq - May 1, 2009

Can debt collectors garnish your PTD payments? I haven’t settled my WC case yet, but am being sued by a credit card company. My only income is my DBA payments.

Herb Chestnut - May 11, 2009

Generally not. There may be some exception as to the federal government or with a child support lien but I have never come across that happening. You should not have a problem with a private company.

Herb Chestnut

2. Paul L. Dorety - May 12, 2009

I have currently recived a 3rd stop payment of compansation for being released to return to work at normal job duty’s . I haven’t seen my or any Doctor in about a year , 04/08/09 is the physician found employee able to return to work ? This is a DBA Workers Compansation case , U.S. Department of Labor letter . My Attorney is requesting it be restarted at present time . Also I was injured in IRAQ working on the job as a DOD helicopter airframe tech , when I tore lower Bicep Tendon , Detached upper Bicep Tendon . I had to Termanate my employment to get home , because the company I worked for would not . Do I by Law have to put my LIFE back in a WAR ZONE to work agian in order to settel this DBA case ?

Herb Chestnut - May 12, 2009

No, you do not have to go back into a war zone. Even if you did, there would be no guarantee that the insurance carrier would settle your claim. Talk to your attorney about requesting a hearing to get your benefits reinstated. Also, you need to see a doctor and the carrier should have to pay for it.

Paul L. Dorety - May 13, 2009

Thank You Very Much for the HELP Paul Dorety

3. Anonymous - May 20, 2009

Defense Base Act is not a “gift” from your company it is MANDATORY by law if you become injured or your loved one is killed. Make sure a lawyer assists you -because the attorneys for the contract companies and the insurance companies make money when they DON’T pay you what you deserve.

Also many contract companies are being sued for wrongful death, negligence under TORT law in the United States. The DBA is not the exclusive remedy for your loss if there is negligence or disregard for your safety. Halliburton, DynCorp, Blackwater and other companies are currently being sued in courts around the US.

Currently, Dyncorp is also being sued in court for the deaths of their subcontractors Dyncorp FZ-LLC in Iraq and Afghanistan. See Parlin v. Dyncorp (Iraq case) and Deuley et. al vs Dyncorp in Afghanistan. The subcontractor Dyncorp FZ-LLC provides the DBA coverage therefore they are not part of the lawsuit. Dyncorp International is the parent company and are NOT free from liability in TORT law. If you worked for Dyncorp FZ-LLC and have been injured or your loved one has been killed, contact a lawyer and refer them to these cases.

**Remember the DBA coverage you receive is not a “GIFT” from company. It is mandatory and is reimbursed in the contract by the governement/tax payers. The life insurance you may receive – the insurance premium is most likely reimbursed to the company by the government. No matter how well the company may be treating you, it may be just until the statutes of limitations pass so that you don’t file a lawsuit. Check your options and don’t play their game!)

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4. Mike G. - May 20, 2009

I am working in Kandahar Afganastan, and I recently broke my ankle. I was off work due to illiness one night, but needed to eat. I went to get something to eat and when returning I tripped down some stairs in a unlighted area. I’m in the U.S. awaiting surgery, I’m I still covered under the Defense Base Act, and should I still get benifits? I was told you are covered as long as you are on the base and you don’t do something stupid.

Herb Chestnut - May 20, 2009

That is basically correct. There is a concept know as the “zone of special danger” that applies here. Like you say, unless you are doing something stupid, you are probably covered. Are they giving you any problems with covering the injury under the DBA?

5. Bill Carrothers - August 6, 2009

I was employed as a civilian pilot on a DoD contract in OIF. I woke up one morning and had impaired vision in one of my eyes. I reported this to my immediate supervisor and went to see the Army eye doc ASAP. He told me I had a detached retina and needed medical attention that was unavailable in Iraq. That was on 2 July 2009 and I’m now in the states and have had 2 laser eye surgeries to correct this condition. The opthalmologist says it may be 2 to 5 months before my vision stabilizes and I would be able to return to flying. My company does not think this is work-related and is advising me that I am not entitled to workers compensation under the DBA. Is this true?

6. kelly weddle - February 27, 2010

I was injured on Feb 26,2009 in Mosul, Iraq while working for Dyncorp International. I injured my cerival and lumbar spine. I’m going through my depositions on April 6,2010. I was receiving TTD from April 2009 – Oct 2009. My doctor put restrictions for me and stated that I couldn’t return back to that type work. Workmans comp stop my benifits. I even got a second opion from another Neurosurgin who gave same restrictions as my present nero doctor. I hurt everyday with pains and numbness, My life hasn’t been the same since my injuries, I can’t do the things I used to do with my 7 yr old little girl.

7. John Byrd - August 2, 2010

I was injured in Iraq on duty working as a subcontractor for KBR.As a result of the injury (HEARNEATED DISC C5-6 AND RUPTERED DISC C6-7)I had to have surgery to correct the problem.WC has not settled with me at this time,What would be a fair settlement ? I live in TX,Missed 3 months of work.Should I retain an attorney ?

Herb Chestnut - September 20, 2010

Thanks for the post. The DBA is a very complicated process, especially dealing with scheduled injuries such as yours. A fair settlement depends on what you are receiving now, the nature of the work you did before, whether you are able to return to your prior job and the carrier’s ability to show suitable work is available. We would be happy to speak to your personally at no charge.

Herbert J. Chestnut

8. C. - May 24, 2011

Injured in 2006, KBR driver…I have been waiting for a hearing in front of an ALJ for 3 years now! It all started when, after 4 sugeries I requested a second opinion as I was still in severe pain and still had some mechanical issues with the injured appendage. Anyone out there recommend a good attorney? I completed 2 years of college while waiting and expected the insurance carrier to continue my TTD/TPD payments, they did not. Am I wrong to understand that they are obligated under the DBA to do so while I completed vocational rehabilitaion from the Dept of Labor? By my count the carrier owes interest and penalties too, that puts the amount over 125k and counting. Any advice and suggestions would certainly be helpful…

Herb Chestnut - May 25, 2011


We would be happy to speak with you regarding this claim. Please call us toll free at 800-881-4892

Herb Chestnut
Chestnut Beller and Walter

9. Anonymous 2 - September 28, 2011

I ask my Senator to look into the way we are being treated. Has any one got any results, direction, help of any benefit? Has any one got a DOJ investigation started, any results from that? My Lawyer has requested a informal hearing, but has not received a date at this time. What would be the ramifications of trying to change my Lawyer at this time. Anyone done this at this time in their case? The carrier has not paid me in months, so could they be an factor at this time in this. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

Herb Chestnut - September 29, 2011

Sounds like you are being put through the ringer. The main thing in dealing with these insurers are to be persistent and push the case to litigation. Many times insurers stop benefits without cause and they know as soon as they get in front of a judge, they are going to lose. The first step in that process is the informal conference. However, the DOL can only make recommendations. They are not binding. If the carrier does not comply with the recommendations, your attorney can request an expedited hearing. That will speed things up some.

Hope this helps.

Herb Chestnut

10. Anonymous - March 24, 2013

I was just reading all the comments,and i would like to add that the insurance carrier dont understand that this is our lives and we have to live with what ever happen to us,[PTSD,Chronic Pain,ect……} and their is no set amount of settlement that will give us back our 100%,so with that been said Your attorney need to take that into consideration when handling your case,

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