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Defense Base Act Benefits to SIV Holders and Refugees

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Where the United States Military goes, so does a large amount of funding to support military bases and embassies, to repair infrastructure after a conflict, and generally to execute United States’ missions abroad. Much of this funding goes to pay local nationals for their services to the United States agencies in providing contracted security, construction, general labor, and linguist support.

If you or a loved one were injured while working as a contractor in support of the United States, contact MJA today to see if you qualify for benefits and coverage under the Defense Base Act.

The DBA Coverage for Qualifying SIV Holders and Refugees

The Defense Base Act is a federal law that requires companies that support United States agencies abroad 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.

Even Non-United States citizens (citizens of Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, or other nations) may be eligible for benefits related to a work-related injury, if the injury resulted from work as a contractor in support of the United States Government.

Many local national contractors come to the United States on a Special Immigration Visa (SIV) because their lives were threatened due to their affiliation with the United States, while working as a contractor. Additionally, many contractors experience rocket and mortar attacks on U.S. Bases, Suicide bombers, Snipers, Risk of Kidnapping, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). This extreme, constant, and long-term stress due to the life-threatening nature of the work performed and work environment can cause a psychological injury, for which financial and medical benefits are available.

Risks & Injuries to Local Nationals in Supporting the United States

The local national employees that support the United States abroad do so at great risk to themselves and their families. Often, they become targets of hostile attacks from insurgent and terrorist activities because of their affiliation with U.S. forces. Insurgents regularly attack U.S. Military installations in locations where the U.S. Military has ongoing operations, and these risks don’t stop at the end of the workday for local nationals. Many local nationals and their families are targeted, injured, killed, or threatened, requiring them to flee to the United States to seek refuge by applying for a Special Immigration Visa (SIV). Many refugees are often forced to quit their jobs because of the risks and injuries associated with their support to the U.S. Government.

You May Not Know That You Have Defense Base Act Coverage

Many local nationals who have contracted with private companies to support military bases and rebuild host nations are unaware that they could qualify for workers’ compensation insurance during that work, much like the typical worker in the United States. The U.S. Government mandates and pays for workers’ compensation insurance that would provide wage loss protection and medical benefits to local nationals in the event they become injured because of their employment in support of the United States’ operations in the host nation. Many local national employees believe the United States has exploited them and then abandoned them in a time of need, but this is not the case.

Although most companies are required to post information regarding workers’ compensation benefits in common workspaces for their employees to see, most contracting companies that provide services to the U.S. Government abroad are unable to do so. In many cases, contracting companies that support U.S. bases aren’t providing services in their own buildings, so there’s no simple place to post that information. They are hiring people and tasking them to work alongside military or civilians who work directly for the United States Government in government-provided buildings that aren’t controlled by the contracting companies. While contractors sent overseas from the United States receive “pre-deployment” training and briefings that inform them of the Defense Base Act benefits available if they get injured, the local nationals do not receive these briefs.

Defense Base Act Insurance for Injured Contracted Local Nationals

Defense Base Act insurance helps injured local national workers who were contracted by the U.S. Government in a way similar to workers’ compensation insurance that is available to many American workers. Most local national contractors that support U.S. agencies abroad are covered by Defense Base Act insurance. In the event a worker suffers an injury that arises from their employment and prohibits continued employment, the Defense Base Act insurance can provide replacement income during the time they are unable to earn the same level of income. It also provides any and all reasonable and necessary medical treatment until they reach maximum medical improvement.

There is no time bar or statute of limitations to medical benefits for injuries suffered while working as a contractor in support of the United States. In many cases, local nationals and SIV holders can also be entitled to financial compensation or vocational rehabilitation (new career training) under their former employer’s Defense Base Act workers’ compensation insurance policy.

Work for Contracting Companies Can Qualify for DBA Benefits

While the United States pays contracting companies to do the work, private companies hire local national employees and/or other host-nation-based companies to do the work for them. The United States works with many such security, construction, general labor, and logistics companies abroad, including:

  • Global Linguist Solutions
  • Valiant
  • Atlas Advisors
  • New Future Company
  • SOSI
  • SOC, LLC
  • Worldwide Language Solutions
  • Shee Atika Languages
  • KBR
  • And hundreds more

Even if you worked for local Iraqi or Afghan companies, if those companies were providing ongoing services to the benefit of the United States, U.S. military bases, or U.S. embassies in the construction, security, linguist, or general labor sectors, then there was probably Defense Base Act (DBA) coverage through an American “prime” contracting company. Military contractors who work for private companies in support of U.S. forces in foreign countries are often exposed to countless traumatic events that cause lasting symptoms that could entitle the contractor to medical treatment benefits, financial support, or a settlement at no cost to the contractor.

Benefits Not Limited by Passage of Time, Nationality, or Residency

Certain Defense Base Act benefits are available to certain local national employees, regardless of nationality, country of residence, or passage of time following employment. Such benefits are available to all government contractors that supported United States-funded contracts in hostile areas, even if former employees had to take refuge in another country, or still live in the host nation in which the United States operated.

Occupational Injuries May Take Years to Discover

Many local nationals may not even know they have a psychological injury related to their contracted work because some injuries a “latent” and are not easily recognizable. Many may know they have certain symptoms but believe that their symptoms will go away with time, only to find out years later that they have suffered a psychological injury. Even if an occupational injury takes years to discover, it does not automatically bar an eligible worker from using the Defense Base Act to seek workers’ compensation benefits.

Psychological Injuries from Working in a Hostile Area

Many believe that having a psychological injury means they are weak or broken, but this has never been the case. The human body adapts to its environment to enhance survivability. In a war zone, the unsafe body and mind subconsciously adapt to a dangerous environment in new ways, such as waking up suddenly at a small noise, always being on high alert, or hesitating to trust people. The longer someone remains in a dangerous environment, the more difficult it will be for them to shed their adaptations when they return to a safe environment like home. Such adaptations are oftentimes the symptoms of a psychological injury that can make a return to work, school, and family life challenging.

There are methods and treatments available to address the psychological traumas that can afflict local national workers who worked in dangerous environments. Depression, anxiety, adjustment disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can all be identified through psychological evaluations and treated with therapies, medication, and more.

Workers’ compensation insurance through the Defense Base Act considers more than just physical injuries. In many cases, local national workers can qualify after suffering a psychological injury related to their work as contractors in support of the U.S. Government, which provides them with medical treatment and lost wages, sometimes up to thousands of dollars per month in compensation.

You may have a psychological injury and be eligible for Defense Base Act insurance if you are:

  • Having difficulty sleeping, nightmares, or waking after only a few hours of sleep;
  • Startling from sudden noses that do not bother others around you;
  • Having angry outbursts with family and friends over relatively small matters;
  • Having difficulty maintaining personal or social relationships;
  • Suffering from frequent headaches or migraines;
  • Experiencing paranoid thoughts or negative self-views;
  • Feeling persistently bothered by a feeling of impending doom;
  • Experiencing flashbacks or unwanted memories of events experienced as a contractor; and/or,
  • Avoiding certain people, places, or activities to prevent a flashback or similar symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Filing for Defense Base Act Insurance Benefits

Military Justice Attorneys proudly offers our legal services to local nationals who want to see if they can use Defense Base Act insurance to cover medical bills and lost wages after they were hurt while completing contracted work for the U.S. Government. We work at no cost to local national SIV holders or refugees, so our legal counsel remains available to more people who need it. Defense Base Act insurance benefits are available to eligible local national employees/workers, regardless of nationality, country of residence, or passage of time following employment, so it is always worth exploring your options with our help if you need these benefits.

If you worked as a contractor outside of the United States, and you want to know more about these valuable Defense Base Act Benefits, Military Justice Attorneys wants to hear from you. Call (843) 773-5501 and ask to speak with one of our attorneys. During a free consultation, you can find out if you are eligible for benefits, as well as what to do next if you are.