Attorneys 10 Top Tips for Winning DBA Claims
Cantrell Green is one of only a few law firms that is highly specialized in Defense Base Act (DBA) Cases. The dedicated DBA attorneys at our firm have worked tirelessly to obtain benefits for hundreds of injured contractors working overseas – obtaining millions of dollars in DBA claims for defense workers abroad.
In this article we set forth our DBA attorneys’ 10 Top Tips that can help injured military contractors with their DBA claims.
#1. DBA Covered Injuries
A contractor does NOT have to be performing work-related duties at the time of the injury for the Defense Base Act to apply if you they are deployed to a war zone such as Iraq, Syria, Somalia or Afghanistan. Civilian military employees are covered 24/7 by the DBA if they are working in a war zone or a zone of special danger – even if they slip in the shower or trip on a sidewalk while shopping.
#2. Report DBA Injuries ASAP
- As soon as a defense contractor is injured, they should immediately report the injury to their supervisor, in person and in writing. Send an e-mail or fax notification and keep a copy so that the insurance company cannot dispute that the employer was notified.
#3. Gather Your Pre-DBA Wage Records
Civilian defense contractors should always keep track of all wage records, including all bonuses. If you did not do so prior to being injured, immediately gather all of your past wage records for at least a full year prior to your injury.
#4. Choose Your Own Doctor for a DBA Claim
Under the Defense Base Act you are entitled to the doctor of your choice. Always elect to choose your own doctor for a DBA claim. Do not choose a doctor recommended by the insurance company or from a list of physicians provided by the insurance company.
#5. Keep a List of Witnesses
Make a list of everyone who witnessed your injury occur. Make sure to collect their cell numbers, physical addresses and e-mails – including their permanent contact information back in the U.S. (such as a spouse or parent). It is very common to have difficulty finding these witnesses who were overseas with you, once they are back in the United States.
#6. Keep a DBA Injury ‘Diary’
Keep a diary of all medical treatment received while overseas before returning home. Include the names of every physician, clinic, therapists, and hospital that treated you. Include dates, phone numbers and a summary of the treatment received.
#7. Obtain Medical Records Before Returning to the U.S.
Obtain copies of all medical records from any overseas medical providers and treatment facilities before your return home to the United States. Make sure to collect copies of any x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, etc. This will avoid obstacles and delays obtaining necessary medical documentation from overseas facilities.
#8. Be Honest with Your Doctor About DBA Injuries
Always be truthful with your doctors about the extent of your injuries. Department of Labor Administrative Law Judges have the right to dismiss your DBA claim if they find that you have lied. Carefully explain to your physician the specific type of work you did overseas, and the exact circumstances of the injury. Many US doctors may not be familiar with military contractor duties, such as wearing body armor, carrying weapons, breathing toxic fumes, etc.
#9. Do NOT Allow DBA Nurse Case Manager in the Exam Room
DBA nurse case managers are hired by the insurance company to help your employer – no matter how nice they are, they are NOT on your side! You DO NOT have to allow the DBA insurance company’s “nurse case manager” to be in the examining room when you are being treated. Politely tell them to wait in the waiting room.
Your doctor doesn’t want insurance company employees in medical appointments with their patients and will back you up if you ask the insurance case manager to leave the room.
#10. Consult with a DBA Attorney
Contact an experienced DBA attorney as soon as possible when you are injured. Or have a family member who is stateside contact one of our DBA lawyers. Do not attend a DOL informal conference, OALJ hearing, or a DBA mediation without the advice of an attorney.
Typically, the DBA insurer will try to save money by offering you the minimum possible – and if you are sick or injured you may not have the energy or the knowledge to fight them. But the skilled and experienced DBA attorneys are here to advise you and ensure that you receive the maximum medical care and other DBA benefits for which you qualify.
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