The Defense Base Act provides compensation for disability or death of persons employed at military, air, and naval bases outside the United States. This includes territories and lands occupied or used by the United States for military or naval purposes; or any public work being performed in any territory or possession outside the continental United States, if such employee is engaged in employment at such place, under the contract of a contractor or a subcontractor with the United States. You would also have coverage if you are working under a contract approved or financed by the United States or any Executive Department, independent establishment or agency where such contract is to be performed outside the continent of the United States by an American employer providing welfare or similar services for the benefits of the armed forces pursuant to an appropriate authorization by the Secretary of Defense and Employees of Base Exchange stores.
Civilian workers who have been involved in the various military operations overseas such as Desert Storm, the Yugoslavian Peninsula conflict (Kosovo, etc.) and the current engagement in Iraq, and Afghanistan, are covered under this Act. All rights, obligations, and benefits under the Defense Base Act are described under the Defense Act provisions.
“We will protect your rights to the fullest extent of the law; investigate your claim vigorously; our consultations are free, and representation of your Defense Base Act case will usually be at no cost to you.”
The Act provides that the employer must pay for the medical care required for his employee’s injury, for disability compensation benefits and for vocational rehabilitation training. In the event of death caused by an injury, benefits include payment for reasonable funeral expenses and compensation payments for reasonable funeral expenses and compensation payments to eligible surviving heirs. Although the Act does not provide for compensation for non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering or mental anguish, compensation is payable regardless of whether the employer was “negligent” or “at fault” in causing a worker’s injuries.
The Defense Base Act applies to all injuries and occupational diseases or exposure to toxic chemicals which arise during the course of employment and which are related to that employment, including exposure to loud noises, excessive heat, stress, and other unsafe conditions of the work environment. The result of prolonged exposure of these types of health hazards can include cancer, heart disease, neurological diseases, and loss of hearing. Therefore, if you have an illness you believe might have resulted from your work environment, you should ask your doctor about any possible connection between your illness and your job. If you suspect that you have an occupational disease, or as soon as your doctor tells you that you have a work related disease, you should notify your employer immediately.
You are eligible for worker’s compensation regardless of your previous physical condition- for example, even if you have had a bad back or heart condition for many years, you are entitled to worker’s compensation benefits if you re-injure, aggravate, or accelerate your back or heart condition during the course of your employment. Therefore, even if you have had prior back surgery, but have returned to work with physical limitations and/or a physical disability, you are entitled to worker’s compensation based upon your new injury. If your new injury increases your disability over and above your previous injury, you will be entitled to an award for the increased amount of disability found from your new injury. Many workers have previous injuries in which they have settled their claim, yet, continue to have open medical benefits to treat their injury. The importance of filing your new injury claim is that you will have the opportunity to choose a new physician, if you wish, and you will receive compensation for your time off work recuperating from your new injury at the new compensation rate established by your new earnings. You are entitled to receive worker’s compensation benefits even if your own negligence or carelessness contributes to your injury or death.
Your employer is responsible for paying all reasonable and necessary hospital, surgical, and medical expenses that you incur as the result of your work-related injury or illness. There are no restrictions on the length of time or the amount of medical benefits to be paid as long as the need for medical treatment can be substantiated and related to the work-related injury or illness.
Medical benefits include prescriptions, medical appliances, and travel to obtain medical treatment. The Department of Labor each year establishes the current mile reimbursement rate. Additionally, any parking fees you incur will be reimbursed if you provide proper documentation and receipt. The mileage reimbursement is something that the Claimant has to specifically request from the insurance Carrier and frequently must be documented on a specific form supplied by the Carrier. Please make sure that you contact our office or your Adjuster regarding this process.
If you are having difficulty receiving authorization for your medical care, testing, or medical appliances from the insurance Carrier, you need to contact the Department of Labor and/or a lawyer to immediately assist you in securing these benefits.
Your employer is responsible for authorizing medical services for you after you give notice of your injury. You are permitted one free choice of physician to treat your injuries. After that, no change may be made without the consent of your Employer/Carrier or the United States Department of Labor. If the doctor you choose is a general practitioner, and you later need a specialist, another choice will generally be granted. Frequently, your treating physician will want to refer you to a specialty physician, however, you have the right to choose a specialty physician of your own liking, and I would encourage you to do so. The choice of a treating physician is probably the most important factor involved in your injury and claim for benefits. The treating physician is not only the one that will provide you the medical care to recover from your injuries, he/she will determine your work status and length of recovery time. Additionally, he/she will determine your impairment rating and establish the permanent physical restrictions involved with your injuries, which will directly determine the value of your claim and potential settlement. If you need assistance in choosing a quality treating physician call for a free list of expertly quality physicians: (713) 623-8999; (800) 471-8999.