10 Tips for Filing a Claim Under the Defense Base Act
The author offers tips for military contractors in Iraq or Afghanistan to follow when filing a claim under the Defense Base Act.
Below are 10 tips that will help injured contractors with their claims and hopefully answer some questions about the Defense Base Act.
1. You do not have to be actually physically working at the time of your injury for the Defense Base Act to apply if you are deployed to a war zone, like Iraq or Afghanistan. As soon as possible after your injury, document the event - make notes and take photographs and retain these until you have spoken with a Defense Base Act attorney.
2. As soon as you are injured, immediately report the injury to your supervisor. I suggest that you inform your supervisor in person if you can, but also e-mail or fax him/her and keep a copy of the e-mail or fax. This way there can be no dispute by the insurance company that you indeed notified your employer.
3. Keep track of all your wage records, including all bonuses. If you have not done so prior to being injured, gather all your wage records immediately.
4. Make sure you treat with the doctor of your choosing. Do not treat with a doctor recommended by the insurance company. You are entitled to the doctor of your choice. I would suggest going to the best doctor close to your home.
5. Make a list of all who witnessed your injury. Include his or her home and cellular numbers, addresses and e-mails. It is not uncommon to have difficulty finding these witnesses once you are back in the U.S.
6. Keep a diary of all the medical treatment you received overseas before returning home, including the names of each hospital and doctor, and a summary of the treatment received.
7. Obtain copies of all medical records from all overseas medical providers as well as copies of any x-rays, MRIs, etc. It is not easy to obtain these records overseas,especially from foreign hospitals.
8. Be truthful and upfront with all doctors. Your claim may be dismissed if the Department of Labor Administrative Law Judge finds that you have lied. Having a previous injury does not mean that your employer is not responsible for your injury. They are responsible even if the injury overseas exacerbated your previous injury. Explain to your doctor the type of work you did overseas, that you must wear body armor, carry weapons, etc. Most doctors do not understand the type of work you did overseas.
9. Do not allow the insurance company's "nurse case manager" to be in the examining room when you are being treated by your physician. Tell them to wait in the waiting room. Remember, they are paid by the insurance company.
10. Contact an attorney, or have a family member contact an attorney, as soon as you are injured for free legal advice. Attorneys practicing in Defense Base Act claims can represent military contractors throughout the U.S.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Timothy C. Nies, Esq.
Author Timothy C. Nies is a former Airborne Ranger with the Army's elite 75th Ranger Regiment, and former insurance company trial attorney with Marshall Dennehey, the largest insurance defense law firm in the United States. Tim's unique life experiences enables him to effectively litigate claims for injured contractors under the Defense Base Act.
Timothy Nies, now an attorney with Van Riper and Nies practicing in the litigation of injury claims on behalf of military contractors injured in Iraq or Afghanistan, was himself injured in the line-of-duty while serving as a Ranger. He, more than most attorneys knows what it is like to suffer from and overcome a life-changing injury.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.