When you work for the United States government as a contractor or a subcontractor, whether on U.S. soil or overseas, the Defense Base Act (DBA) covers you in the event of an injury and it works similarly to any worker’s compensation insurance.
However, as a contractor, you should know the basics of the DBA and how it could possibly affect you and your contract in the future. From the details of who and what is covered to what happens should the company hiring you not have obtained the legally required DBA insurance, the answers are here.
Who and What is Covered Through the DBA?
The Defense Base Act is, in simple terms, an extension of the already in place federal worker’s compensation program, and it covers contractors who work for private employers located on military bases or contractors who sign on to work for U.S. government agencies through public work contracts. Other contractors who work with the government may also be covered under this act.
If you qualify as a DBA contractor and are injured during the time of your contract, your injury may be covered under your employer’s DBA insurance. The insurance carrier will investigate to see whether your injury actually was a result of your employment.
Injuries included under this term can include slip and falls, automobile accidents, and aggravation of injuries exacerbating a pre-existing condition.
What Benefits Are You Entitled to Under a DBA?
Like other worker’s compensation insurances, the DBA allows you access to medical pay for expenses, disability wages, and death benefits. You may be entitled to partial loss of earnings for short-term injuries or long-term wages up to two-thirds of your average earnings for total disability.
Benefits are also available to the surviving spouse and children in the event of an accident resulting in death.
Medical benefits are provided for authorized treatment. The DBA allows you to choose your physician and seek emergency treatment, but for non-emergencies you must work with your employer and the DBA insurance carrier to communicate regarding your medical care.
Filing a Claim
If you are injured in the course of your employment as a contractor, you should contact your employer as soon as possible to begin the claims process, and seek medical treatment. Your employer will submit the necessary paperwork and file for a written claim of benefits with the Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs (OWCP).
What if There is No DBA Insurance?
All Defense Base Act employers are legally required to obtain this coverage for their hired contractors, however, occasionally, this does not happen. If you are in the situation where you were injured and your employer failed to obtain the necessary insurance coverage, you have the right to sue them for civil damages.
Know Your Rights as a Contractor
Working for the U.S. government qualifies you as a different type of contractor, and you should be aware of how this affects you and your contract. The Defense Base Act is in place to protect you, but before you begin a contract you should be aware of your rights and make sure your employer has sufficient protection in place to cover you in the event of any problems that may arise.