Defense Base Act

The Defense Base Act covers all civilian employees who are injured abroad while working under contract by the U.S. government.

Ashcraft & Gerel has more than 60 years of experience handling workers’ compensation claims, including claims under the Defense Base Act. If you have been injured on an overseas U.S. military facility, please contact us online or call 800-829-7037  today. You may be eligible for compensation under the Defense Base Act.

Who is Covered by the Defense Base Act?

There are four different criteria. If you fulfill any of the following and are injured during the course of your work, you are covered under the Defense Base Act, regardless of your nationality:

  1. You work for a private employer on an overseas U.S. military base or land used by the U.S. for military purposes.
  2. You work abroad on a public works contract for any U.S. government agency (such as construction or civil engineering) that falls under the heading of national defense or war activities.
  3. Your work under a contract approved and funded by the U.S. government abroad. According to the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act, this includes but is certainly not limited to selling military equipment and services to our allies.
  4. You work for the USO or another company or organization which provides moral and welfare services to the military abroad.

Benefits of the Defense Base Act

The benefits of the Defense Base Act, much like regular workers’ compensation, include medical, disability, and death. Benefits apply whether the injury happened while you were on the clock or not.

  • Permanent and Temporary Disability Benefits. You receive 2/3 or your average weekly earnings up to the maximum amount. This number will change with the economy and average wage rates fluctuate.
  • Death Benefits. In the tragic event of your death, benefits from the Defense Base Act still apply and will go to your family. They will receive ½ of your average weekly earnings at the time of death. This will go to your surviving spouse or oldest child. If you are not married and have no children, the benefits will go to your next of kin.

Both permanent and death benefits under the Defense Base Act apply for life. For more information about the Defense Base Act, visit the U.S. Department of Labor website.

Important Facts About the Defense Base Act

The Defense Base Act has many complicated legal nuances. Here are some of the most important statutes of the Act:

  • All employers of workers who fulfill the above criteria are required by federal law to provide workers compensation coverage for their employees. If your employer doesn’t follow this mandate and/or pay the amount in full, you as the injured employee or your family in the event of your death can sue the employer for tort damages.
  • If you sue the company or employer for not providing you coverage if you are injured, the defendant cannot plead:

– That you assumed the risk when you took the job.
– Negligence of another employee.
– Contributory negligence, which is when you were injured partly or fully due to your own negligence.

  • If your employer cannot cover the cost of your injury, they are violating a federal mandate and as such are guilty of a misdemeanor. If found guilty, they can be charged up to $10,000, up to a year in jail, or both.
  • If you are injured on the job, you must notify your employer in writing within 30 days of the incident. An official claim has to be filed within 1 year of the injury. It is very important to keep this time frame in mind. If you don’t follow these rules, you may be denied benefits.

History of the Defense Base Act

Since 1942, the Defense Base Act has been a federal mandate requiring employers of citizens working under U.S. government contracts abroad to provide workers compensation. Since its inception, the Act has had two important amendments:

  • 1953: The Defense Base Act was expanded to cover any contract work that could be classified under “national defense.”
  • 1958: The Defense Base Act was again expanded to provide coverage for morale organizations, like the USO, and includes coverage for non-U.S. citizens under U.S. contract.

In the past decade, this Act has become much more prevalent than before. According to a 2010 report to Congress, the number of Defense Base Act claims increased six times between 2004 and 2007 alone. As the U.S. engaged in military action in the Middle East, thousands of people have been hired to work on U.S. projects in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries in the war torn region. There are also workers at U.S. military facilities in other parts of the world, ranging from London to Okinawa. No matter where you are in the world, if you are employed if you are injured abroad while working for the U.S. government, you are entitled to benefits. Some of the bigger Department of Defense and Department of State contractors include:

Academi (formerly Blackwater)                                International Development Solutions
AECOM                                                                         ITT
Aegis Defense Services                                              KBR
Aerotek                                                                          L3 Communications
Armourgroup                                                               Mission Essential Personnel
BAE Systems                                                                 PAE
BL Harbert International                                             Patriot Group International
Chenega Global                                                           Professional Solutions
Computer Science Corporation                                Raytheon
Dyncorp International                                                 SAIC
Engility                                                                           SOC SMG
Fluor Daniel                                                                   Toltest
Garda Worldwide                                                         Triple Canopy
Global Linguist Solutions                                            Vectrus
Halliburton                                                                     Worldwide Language Services
Honeywell International



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