The Defense Base Act provides disability, medical, and death benefits to covered employees injured or killed in the course of employment, whether or not the injury or death occurred during work hours. Compensation for total disability is two-thirds of the employee's average weekly earnings, up to a current maximum of $1,030.78 per week. Compensation also is payable for partial loss of earnings. Death benefits are half of the employee's average weekly earnings to the surviving spouse or to one child, and two-thirds of earnings for two or more such survivors, up to the current maximum weekly rate. Permanent total disability and death benefits may be payable for life, and are subject to annual cost of living adjustments. There is no minimum compensation rate.
Why you should contact an attorney?
What to do if you do not receive your benefits or you are unsure about your benefits?
In the event you do not receive your proper benefits timely, or you receive a notice contesting the benefits, you should immediately contact an attorney since there are time limits for protecting your rights to dispute the actions of your employer. Claims must be filed in the appropriate district office of the United States Department of Labor. It should be noted that the New York District is located in Manhattan and is close to our office. The New York District covers all claims arising in Iraq, Afghanistan as well as all of Central and South American, Europe and Africa.
Since the rate of compensation is the basis of both the temporary and permanent award it is crucial to establish the maximum Average Weekly Wage (AWW) that you are entitled to. It is not uncommon for the employer and or their insurance carrier not include all the compensation and prior earning records as to minimize your AWW. Since awards for permanent partial disability are often based on the impairment rating assigned by the physician, such as a 13% permanent partial disability to the arm, it is important that your disability is properly assessed by a physician who is experienced and competent in establishing disability ratings.
Psychological and occupational illness such as carpal tunnel, hearing loss, and chemical exposure, can also be compensable under the Defense Base Act and Longshore and Harbor Workers Act.
Even if you believe you are receiving all your proper benefits, you should still contact an attorney before signing any documents or agreeing to any settlements or attending any examination arranged by your employer. Most attorneys will not charge a consultation fee in these matters so it is better to be safe than sorry.
You should also be aware that persons other than your employer might have caused your injury. In such case you may have a claim separate from your compensation claim. Your employer or its compensation carrier may not advise you of this so you may want to consult an attorney. If you have such a claim, there will be a lien for compensation benefits paid against any recovery in the other claim. However, bringing such a claim will not affect your compensation benefits.
The Southall Ross Law Firm represents claimants in Defense Base Act, Longshore and Harbor Workers' compensation claims and claims against persons other than your employer and does not charge for a consultation. There is no fee if there is no recovery in personal injury or workers' compensation or Defense Base matters. Your inquiries will be promptly answered directly by one of our attorneys