Dispelling/Confirming some Defense Base Act Myths July 20, 2008Posted by Aaron Walter in Uncategorized.
Tags: attorneys, citizenship, FCE, foreign nationals, IME, mileage
1. The Defense Base Act only applies to US Citizens
FALSE – The DBA applies both to US Citizens and to foreign nationals. So long you were injured while working for a company contracting directly with the US government (usually the Department of Defense) that is in some way providing support to the US military or contributing to efforts that could be construed as supporting the national security interests of the US, you are likely covered by the Act. We have been witness to recent efforts by some insurers to forcibly apply less beneficial foreign Workers’ Compensation systems from the Middle East to some of these injured employees. Be aware of your rights and be prepared to stand up for them.
2. My benefits can be cut off I fail to go to an IME or FCE
TRUE – In an attempt to suspend or reduce your weekly benefits the insurance company will often schedule for you an IME (Independent Medical Examination) or FCE (Functional Capacity Evaluation). While little good may come from these appointments, the DBA requires that you attend. NOTE: There are differing opinions as to whether an FCE with a non-physician falls under this requirement. If the FCE is scheduled by the insurer and not your own doctor, we encourage you to consult with an attorney considering your rights and options.
3. The insurance company needs to reimburse me for gas
TRUE – While they are likely in no rush to tell you, if you ask for it, the insurance company is required to reimburse you for mileage and costs to drive to and from doctor’s appointments, trips to the pharmacy, or trips to the hospital for testing like MRIs. The current rate for reimbursement is $.50 per mile (raised from $.48 as of March 19, 2008). Updated mileage rates are available from the US Department of Labor.
4. I can’t afford to hire an experienced Defense Base Act attorney
FALSE – Our firm does not charge any attorney’s fees to our clients. Under the DBA, attorneys for injured claimants are paid by the insurer, often under the direction of the Department of Labor. This usually occurs if your attorney achieves a successful result for you when disputes arise. Practically speaking, disputes often arise over the authorization of medical treatment, payment of weekly compensation, the amount of that compensation, and unpaid medical bills.
5. Your attorney must be from your home state
FALSE – With Defense Base Act claims, no matter where you live, you can be represented by an attorney from any state. It is important that your attorney be experienced with the complicated Federal Workers Compensation system and with the special issues of war zone cases from Afghanistan and Iraq. There are a limited number of attorneys who have experience with these types of cases. The “best” attorney for you is likely the one that you feel comfortable with and who has compassion and empathy for your situation. Your lawyer will have many clients, but you only have one case.