defense base act

Knowing Your Rights: Are You Familiar with the Defense Base Act and What Rights Does it Grant?

Many contractors have no idea what the Defense Base Act (DBA) even is. Without knowing what it is, how can they possibly hope to take advantage of the rights it grants? Let’s take a look at what the DBA is, and what rights it can give you.

What is the DBA?

The Defense Base Act has been around since the early 1940’s, and basically provides cover for overseas contractors who are working on a US military base, or on a contract for the US government. In these situations, the contractor is covered so that they can receive compensation and medical treatment if they end up injured whilst performing their jobs.

Who is Covered?

The simple way of looking at it is this: If you are working on a US military base, or on a public contract for a US government agency, you are covered. Contractors who are working on contracts funded by the Foreign Assistance Act are also covered. Sometimes even providing services to the US armed services is enough to be covered by the DBA. With workplace injuries in general occurring roughly every 7 seconds, the likelihood of needing this kind of cover is actually quite significant.

What Type of Injuries & Issues are Covered?

Basically you are not covered for any type of injury by the DBA. The way it works is this: The DBA covers you during the performance of your work. That means if you are injured while away performing a contract, but it was completely separate to your work, you probably won’t be covered. However, if your injury occurs because you are either working, or performing some other necessary task while you are in a location because of your contract, you should be covered. Even pre-existing injuries and illnesses can be covered if they are exacerbated by your current work. Remember the DBA isn’t only for major injuries or death, it can cover any type of medical expense and compensation for any type of limitation or harm.

How Long do I Have to Claim?

As with many other claims, the statute of limitations on a DBA claim is 2 years. Within this time you need to contact a good DBA attorney and get the ball rolling with your claim. As long as your claim is filed within the 2 year period, you are covered by the act.

Additionally, you can also claim even after compensation has been paid, if necessary. In this case though you have 1 year from whenever compensation was paid to file your new claim.

What if the Employer Doesn’t Have DBA Insurance?

DBA insurance is a legal requirement for all DBA employers. If the employer is a sub-contractor, any lack of coverage will see the claim being passed on to their general contractor. If no DBA insurance exists at any level, then you have the ability to sue the employer for civil damages – and you’re very likely to win such a case.


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