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The Defense Base Act – What is it and what rights does it provide? March 18, 2008

Posted by Herb Chestnut in Uncategorized.
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The Defense Base Act (DBA) is an extension to the federal workers’ compensation program which covers longshoremen and harbor workers. The Defense Base Act covers persons employed at U.S. defense bases overseas. The Defense Base Act is designed to provide medical treatment and compensation to employees of defense contractors injured in the scope and course of employment.


Generally, workers employed by American contractors performing public works for the U.S. government in U.S. territories, at U.S. military bases located outside the continental United States and in support of military aid programs within allied nations. 42 U.S.C. section 1651 (a). Also, persons who are employed overseas by welfare and morale projects such as the American Red Cross, the U.S.O. and the Salvation Army are generally covered. “Public Works” is defined in 42 U.S.C section 1651(b)(1).


The initial technical requirement of the Act is to report the injury immediately to one’s immediate supervisor. Notice of the injury should also be given in writing using form LS 201. Once that is done, medical treatment is generally offered. It is the employee’s responsibility to file a claim (form LS 203) with the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs. This is required within one year of the date of injury or the last payment of compensation, whichever is later. Other forms utilized in Defense Base Act claims may be accessed at the LHWCA Forms Page.


Are you receiving the proper amount in Workers’ Compensation benefits? March 12, 2008

Posted by Herb Chestnut in Uncategorized.
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I had an Informal Conference today.  For those of you who have not gotten to this stage yet, an Informal Conference is your opportunity to discuss a problem you are having with your claim with the District Office of the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP).  The conference is normally held by telephone and involves the claimant (you) or your attorney, the insurance carrier (or its attorney) and a claims examiner from the OWCP.  There is no special method required to request the conference.  A letter from one of the parties  identifying an issue to the District Office where you claim is pending is all that is required.  Even though the conference sounds, like its name, informal, it is a very important part of the process.

Getting back to my conference, one of the issues was average weekly wage (AWW).  Generally, AWW is calculated by first determining if the claimant worked substantially the whole year prior to the injury.  If so, was this work with the same employer or, at least, similar employment?  If so, the wages are simply calculated, divided by 52 and an AWW is determined.  There are several problems which rear their ugly heads, such as: what constitutes “substantially the whole year” and what type of job qualifies as “similar employment”.  According to cases decided under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Act (LHWCA), 37 weeks is the benchmark for the term “substantially the whole year”.  Therefore, if you have worked 37 out of the last 52 weeks, you may qualify. 



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