What is the Defense Base Act of 1941?

Longshoremen, harbor workers, and civilian military base employees face many workplace hazards each and every day. From repetitive strain injuries, to unsafe work conditions, even illnesses or death due to protracted exposure to hazardous materials, the danger exists that employees may go to work but never return home.

The Defense Base Act of 1941 ensures that these hard-working people, along with their families, receive acceptable workers’ compensation for injuries or death resulting from employer negligence or job-related hazards.

Let us learn more about the Act, what it covers, and what steps you can take if you have been injured.


What Does the Defense Base Act Cover?

An offshoot of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, the DBA covers a myriad of employment activities on various contracts, lands, and at certain capacities. They include:

  • Jobs performed for private employers on United States military bases, including those abroad
  • Public work contracts in connection with, or directly for, U.S. government agencies. This includes construction or similar activities outside of, during, or after war
  • Approved contracts under the FAA (Foreign Assistance Act), including efforts to sell materials, equipment, and other services to U.S. allies
  • American workers employed for the sole purpose of providing humanitarian services outside the U.S. (i.e. United State Organization)
  • Subcontractors, and their employees, working at any capacity above

Failing to carry adequate DBA insurance is considered a serious offense, especially if the contract holder is required by law to provide indemnity.


What Process Must I Follow to File a Claim?


Injured persons are required to report their injury to their immediate supervisor to begin the process. Formal notice of injury should also be done using Department of Labor Form LS201. Upon submission of injury notice, medical treatment is administered.

After receiving proper care, employees should file DOL Form LS203 with the OWCP (Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs) within one year of the injury or the last compensation received, whichever falls last. Claims involving occupational accidents have a two-year statute of limitations from the time an injured employee recognizes the injury is related to employment.

Forms can be gathered by a longshore claims attorney, or may be downloaded from the LHWCA website. Expect a rather long wait time for claims process if filing without legal assistance (up to two years).


What Does the Act Provide?

After the mandatory three-day waiting period imposed by the LHWCA, employers are responsible for paying injured employees expected to miss extended time off work. Section 10 of the DBA states employees are entitled to a weekly compensation amount calculated based off the prior year’s total salary, divided by 52, them multiplied by two-thirds. Most DBA insurers pay every two weeks.

Another lesser used calculation method involves multiplying the average daily wage by the number of days worked each week.


What is Next?

With forms, formalities, and time-sensitive filings, you are better off contacting an injury attorney knowledgeable in Defense Base Act claims. Because the LHWCA mandates several key processes injured persons must follow, knowledge of those laws is mandatory, as well.

If you have worked hard to make others’ lives better in any capacity above, but an injury is preventing you from caring for your family, find and retain the best Defense Base Act attorney to assure claims are paid fairly and timely.

Floridians who have been injured under The Act know that Brill & Rinaldi fight to secure the compensation longshoremen and civilian military base employees deserve. Case reviews are done under no obligation, and they only collect if you win.