What rights does the Defense Base Act provide for those with severe bodily injuries? March 13, 2009Posted by Aaron Walter in Uncategorized.
Tags: home health care, medical treatment, PTSD, traumatic brain injury
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.