Working as a military contractor overseas can be very lucrative – but it’s also dangerous. You can easily end up with a serious injury that could put your entire future in jeopardy, and the path forward to appropriate compensation via the Defense Base Act (DBA) isn’t always clear.
Many injured workers have no idea about the potential problems they can face when they’re putting a DBA claim in for the first time. If you want to minimize delays and make sure that your claim is accepted, here’s what you need to do:
1. Seek immediate medical care.
You most definitely can (and should) seek emergency medical care when you need it – before you worry about anything else. Even if it isn’t an emergency, you shouldn’t wait very long to seek medical care. The longer you wait between your injury and seeking out care, the more latitude you’re giving the insurance company to claim your injury wasn’t work-related.
2. Take photos of everything you can.
Don’t violate company rules on this, but – if you are permitted – take pictures of the area where you were injured and anything you think might be important to your claim. You should also most definitely take photos of your own injuries. They can help prove your claim later.
3. Notify your employer in writing.
You need to file Form LS-201 within 30 days to make your claim effective (although you may have longer for certain conditions). However, even before you get to that point, you should send your employer a detailed, written report that clearly explains all of your injuries, no matter how minor. Make sure you keep a copy.
4. Keep your medical records with you.
It can be amazingly easy, even in today’s digital world, for medical records to get lost when you’re overseas or in transit. Obtaining copies later for the insurance can be a nightmare. Ask for copies of all your records after every hospital, clinic or doctor’s visit.
Finally, don’t sign anything or resign your employment until you’ve sought out appropriate legal guidance. Successfully navigating your DBA claim on your own can be very labor-intensive and difficult to do.