Defense Base Act

Our law firm does not solicit representing workers injured under the Defense Base Act or the Longshore Act who reside outside of the State of Florida. However, we will assist any person contacting us outside of the state in finding an appropriate attorney.

Several years ago this office received an e-mail from a civilian who sustained injuries to his back while employed by an American company doing contract work, for the U.S. government, in Iraq. Instead of being returned to America for appropriate medical care and benefits, he was brought back, laid off and ignored by the company. We are providing this web page as a resource for any civilian working for an American company under contract by the U.S. Government in Iraq who is injured, or for any survivor of a family member who was so employed.

We are grateful for the courage and dedication of the U.S. soldiers and citizens in Iraq. Injured worker's or their survivors should contact their Employer's Human Resources Department for help in applying for these benefits. When the employer won't assist in securing benefits or if there is a question about benefits, an attorney or the U.S. Department of Labor can be consulted.

The federal government has a separate statute and system for these types of claims called the Defense Base Act. The Defense Base Act covers a civilian who is working for an American corporation under contract with the United States government on a defense base which may include, in some situations, a foreign country. Defense Base Act claims were filed by individuals injured in Korea, Viet Nam and the first Iraq war - all were considered to be within the general coverage of the Act. Rather than creating an entirely new workers' compensation system for Defense Base Act cases, the federal government elected to provide benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation system. In other words, if your injury falls under the Defense Base Act, you are entitled to receive benefits under the same system as workers who are injured along the waterfront. Federal employees are covered under a different system, established by the Federal Employees Compensation Act. Reporters and independent business people are not covered by the Defense Base Act, unless they are under contract by the U.S. Government.

Under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, benefits are limited to what the law provides - there are no multi-million dollar verdicts for pain and suffering or gross negligence. The good news is that the benefits that are provided include a partial replacement for lost income, as well as coverage of medical care by a doctor chosen by the injured worker. Death benefits are also available for certain dependants. If the individual has to go to court to fight for benefits and is successful, the attorney's fees are usually paid by the employer.

The federal government has several offices that handle these types of claims. The office for individuals residing in Florida is in Jacksonville. An injured civilian who doesn't know how to pursue a claim for medical care or benefits can contact an attorney or the United States Department of Labor District Office that is nearest to them. The people who work there can provide appropriate forms and information to start the process and, in some cases, the Department of Labor may even provide a list of qualified attorneys in your area if you need one. Our firm represents individuals with claims and cases under the Defense Base Act and Longshore act who reside in Florida. We provide free initial consultations (in person or by telephone) to Florida residents that have covered injuries.

You will find that few attorneys advertise for or specialize in only Defense Base Act cases, but an attorney qualified to handle a case under the longshore statute should be able to handle a case under this law. Attorneys who handle this type of case practice in almost any city where there is a significant port. This would include a city on or near the ocean, like Tampa, which has a major commercial shipping sector and a significant ship building industry. It also includes cities like Pittsburgh - where I originally practiced - which was a major inland port for the steel industry. If you cannot find an attorney on your own outside of the State of Florida you can contact us and we will try to assist you. If you have any other questions don't hesitate to contact us.

Related Links:
Department of Labor - Defense Base Act Overview
Contact Information for the District Offices of the Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation
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