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Defense Base Act FAQ

Does the Defense Base Act apply to my injury?
Subject to some exceptions, the DBA applies to all employees working in other countries, whether at war or during peacetime, while employed by a government contractor. In particular, the Act applies to individuals in the following situations:
  • Working for private employers on U.S. military bases or on any lands used by the U.S. for military purposes outside of the United States, including those in U.S. Territories and possessions;
  • Working on public work contracts with any U.S. government agency, including construction and service contracts in connection with national defense or with war activities outside the United States;
  • Working on contracts approved and funded by the U.S. under the Foreign Assistance Act, generally providing for cash sale of military equipment, materials, and services to its allies, if the contract is performed outside of the United States;
  • Working for American employers providing welfare or similar services outside of the United States for the benefit of the Armed Forces, e.g. the USO.
Is the Defense Base Act exclusive, or can I file also file a state workers’ compensation claim.

The DBA is exclusive, and the sole means of obtaining legal relief. Filing a claim under state workers’ compensation (or in a court case) will be denied improper and the claim will be dismissed by the state agency or court. However, if your injury is caused by a third party’s negligence (other than your Employer), then you may have a recovery from the third party as well.
Can I receive pain and suffering for my injuries?

No. The DBA does not provide for these non-economic damages.
Are psychiatric injuries and resultant work restrictions recoverable under the Defense Base Act?
Yes, psychiatric injuries are treated just like physical injuries. The worker is entitled to psychiatric care and disability payments while the condition is disabling. A medical provider should be able to provide a medical opinion to demonstrate that you need treatment and that you are disabled.
How are my attorney’s fees paid under the DBA?

If your attorney is successful in securing a benefit that was previously denied or terminated by the Employer, the Employer is responsible for paying the attorney’s fee.

If your attorney is successful in negotiating a settlement on your behalf, then an attorney will similarly be paid a fee, either a part of the settlement proceeds, or as settlement for a previously denied benefit.
Attorney’s fees are strictly governed by Department of Labor laws and regulations, and must first be approved by the DOL. This procedure is in place to protect the injured worker. No side fees or other fees are permitted that are not approved through the DOL


DBA Form