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Liability of United States Contracting Companies in Hostile Locations

Defending Those Who Defend Us ®
special forces soldier

Our firm is often contacted by people who are curious about lawsuits against government contracting companies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and other conflict regions to which the United States sends its military.

While class action lawsuits are sometimes brought against government contracting companies alleging wrongful conduct, many of the “lawsuits” that contractors hear about are actually workers’ compensation claims against contracting companies that support the U.S. Government overseas.

The Defense Base Act Provides Coverage to U.S. Agencies

The Defense Base Act is a federal law that requires companies supporting United States agencies abroad to maintain worker’s compensation insurance for their employees in the event of a work-related injury. Many U.S. contractors and foreign nationals working in support of U.S. agencies have Defense Base Act Coverage for their past and present employment periods without even knowing it.

One important difference between a workers’ compensation claim and a class action lawsuit is that proof of wrongdoing against the defendant must be provided in a class action lawsuit, as well as a proven connection between the injury and causation. On the other hand, for a workers’ compensation claim, if an employee’s injury arises from the course of their employment, the employer is required to provide workers’ compensation benefits in the form of medical treatment, wage loss pay, and vocational rehabilitation assistance, even if the employer didn’t do anything wrong.

Private Companies That Provide Support to the U.S. Military

When the United States sends its military into high-conflict regions around the world, it relies heavily on the private sector and local population for logistical support, security, construction, building maintenance, food services, etc. Not every activity related to the U.S. military presence in an area requires the action of an active-duty soldier, marine, or sailor, after all. The military delegates many of its responsibilities in an area to the private sector.

Hundreds of companies often work with the U.S. Government through contracted work, such as:

  • Valiant Integrated Services
  • Amentum
  • Constellis
  • Triple Canopy
  • Raytheon
  • Global Linguist Solutions
  • Aegis Security
  • SOSi
  • KBR
  • Olive Group
  • New Future Company

Attacks Target Soldiers & Contractors Alike

United States military bases in high-threat areas often become targets of attacks by terrorists and insurgent groups in the area, especially in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. In some areas of these countries, insurgents are known to fire mortars and rockets at U.S. military installations on a daily basis. Local militias threaten members of the local population and their families because of the contractors’ affiliation and assistance to the United States, too.

Local nationals who work with the U.S. Government often suffer these persistent symptoms and more:

  • Difficulty falling and staying asleep
  • Nightmares
  • Severe mood swings and anger outbursts
  • Stress
  • Long-term fear and anxiety
  • Self-isolation from family and friends
  • Discomfort in crowded or loud places

Many local national workers believe these symptoms will go away as soon as they are removed from the hostile area, but for many, they don’t. Active-duty military service members have the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to help with injuries after they complete their service, but military contractors have Defense Base Act (DBA) insurance to help with their injuries.

Employees Can Get Benefits if Their Employer Is No Longer in Business

Many contractors that supported the U.S. Military in Iraq and Afghanistan can still access their DBA benefits even though their employer has gone out of business or merged with another company. Employers are ultimately responsible for providing workers’ compensation benefits to their employees, but they can also meet this burden by purchasing an insurance policy and contracting with a third-party insurance carrier to cover and represent them. In the case of the Defense Base Act insurance, the purchase of a policy is mandated by the United States Government where the work is being paid for by U.S. Government agencies for certain types of contracts.

Furthermore, when a company enters into a merger, the liabilities of the company being dissolved are often absorbed by the purchasing company. Many of the contracting companies from 15 or so years ago have been purchased and sold many times. Identifying the company successor-in-interest for an employer that a contractor worked for so long ago, and then identifying which insurance company they purchased their Defense Base Act policy from, can be daunting and seemingly impossible—without the right resources and support.

At Military Justice Attorneys, we have highly experienced attorneys who have successfully handled such complex cases, time and again. Even if there is no successor in interest, the insurance policy likely still lives on and provides benefits for latent injuries arising from a contracted worker’s employment, so the benefits should still be out there. We know where to look, what questions to ask, which paperwork to file, and so on.

DBA Benefits Are Not a Government Handout

Are you apprehensive about applying for Defense Base Act benefits because you mistakenly believe workers’ compensation is a government handout? While it is true that the U.S. Government does indirectly pay for the policy, the worker’s compensation insurance is provided by a private company that receives substantial pay in exchange for a promise to provide these benefits to contractors in the event they suffer injuries that arise from completing contracted work overseas or abroad. The insurance company has already been paid for its insurance products and services, so applying for the benefits is not a handout—it is just asking for what you are already owed!

Do I Qualify for DBA Benefits?

Thousands of contractors are discovering that their difficulties in maintaining personal relationships, anxiety, depression, and other symptoms are the result of a psychological injury that arose from their work as contractors in support of the United States abroad. With the Defense Base Act, many could qualify for various benefits, such as wage loss compensation, medical treatment, and vocational rehabilitation if their injuries preclude them from continuing their career as an overseas contractor and they need additional education to enter a new field in their country of residence. Many others can obtain settlements so they can have more control over which benefit providers they want to see, and when they want to see them.

Many local nationals were never even told these benefits were available to them, though, and some even passed away without ever seeing a dime from the insurance companies. If that happens, a claim might be brought by a surviving heir or loved one. In some cases, an injury claim can even be filed decades after the injury was first suffered.

Do I Need an Attorney to File a Claim?

Lawsuits and workers’ comp claims are complex. The responsible employer, date of loss, the type of injury, calculation of lost wages, etc. may all seem like simple matters, but the fact is that they are often not. In this area of the law, the court has crafted complicated rules for identifying the responsible employer in occupational injury cases, such as a claim for cumulative psychological injury like PTSD. In an occupational injury case, for example, the employer that last exposed you to the working conditions that could have caused or aggravated the type of injury claimed is the responsible employer to file against; it may still be a later employer that is legally responsible to provide benefits for your injury.

Filing a claim against the wrong employer for an occupational injury claim or workers’ compensation claim for Defense Base Act benefits can cause years of delay and endless frustrations. To save yourself time, energy, and resources, you should already be thinking about hiring experienced legal counsel who knows the rules to stand up for you.

Retain the Services of an Experienced Attorney at No Cost to You

For any linguist, security, or labor contractor who worked in hostile areas in support of U.S. forces, it’s worth seeing what benefits may be available. At Military Justice Attorneys, we can help local national and U.S. resident/citizen contractors who supported U.S. Military forces abroad get evaluated for latent injuries and file claims against the contractors’ workers’ compensation insurance policies. We proudly offer our services to such contractors at no cost to them, so more people can reach out to us for the legal guidance and representation they deserve.

Call Military Justice Attorneys if you have any questions about Defense Base Act claims or workplace injury lawsuits filed for injured contractors, local national workers, and others who have worked in the service of the United States Government while abroad or overseas. Dial (843) 773-5501 or contact us online to ask about our legal counsel that is made available at no cost to you.