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A Personal Injury, Workers' Compensation and Defense Base Act Law Firm Fighting for the Injured.
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Burn PitWhen the American government goes to war, it needs a ton of supplies for support.  Well, what happens when those supplies get used and need to be destroyed? They burn it.  The American military used large burn pits to destroy huge amounts of waste.  The types of waste disposed of in a burn pit can include chemicals, plastics, oil, human and medical waste, explosives, dead animals, tires, and are burnt for hours creating toxic fumes.  These burn pits are used at military bases all over the world in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Djibouti, Africa.

Toxins from the burn pit smoke created long-term adverse health effects for our U.S. Soldiers and the American contractor employees working alongside them.  Exposure to burn pit toxins have caused serious diseases such as constrictive bronchitis, a disease of the respiratory system, and even cancer, and can even lead to death.  Our military veterans who developed these diseases filed suit to hold the American contractor companies liable, but the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed that case.  Now, the Department of U.S. Veterans Affairs has a burn pit registry where U.S. veterans and service members can report their health concerns, but what about the American contractor workers? Where can they go to get help? Our firm.

The Defense Base Act, an extension of the Federal Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act, provides coverage benefits for injured workers with adverse health effects caused by exposure to burn pit toxins and fumes.  This firm files for medical care and lost wages and survivor benefits in case of a death.  We recognize that a certain number of workers have passed away or developed cancer from these toxic fumes.  The adverse health effects caused by the toxic fumes are classified as occupational diseases.  A claim for a disability due to these occupational diseases must be filed within two years from the time the employee became aware of the relationship between the disease and his or her employment overseas.  This usually means within 2 years of when a doctor diagnoses the condition.

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Nuestra firma representa a varios trabajadores extranjeros que fueron heridos en zonas de Guerra. Trabajaron para contratistas americanos que los volaban de sus hogares en países diferentes incluyendo Perú, Colombia, y Honduras para servir como guardias de seguridad en zonas de guerra para asistir a nuestro ejército. Estos guardias de seguridad sirvieron junto con nuestro ejército estadounidense y sufrieron lesiones en estas zonas de guerra incluyendo lesiones psicológicas. Si algún guardia ha sufrido lesiones psicológicas, debe tomar ciertas acciones.

Antes de que un guardia pueda presentar una lesión, debe buscar atención médica por su cuenta en su propio país con un médico. Tiene un año a partir del tiempo de ese informe médico que une su condición psicológica a su empleo en la zona de guerra para presentar un reclamo de compensación del trabajador en las cortes federales en los Estados Unidos.

JoAnn-Hoffman-300x288El informe medico tendrá que ser traducido al ingles para que la persona que lo vaya a leer lo pueda entender. El abogado del empleador puede programar un examen medico de defensa con el medico que ellos deseen. Si ese informe es favorable para el trabajador lesionado, entonces tiene una mejor oportunidad de ganar su reclamo por su lesión psicológica relacionada con su empleo.

¿Pero qué pasa si gana su caso? Esto no requiere que el empleador ni la compañía del seguro le pague un solo pago. Se puede recibir un solo pago siempre y cuando las dos partes lleguen a un acuerdo de un numero para resolver el reclamo. Si eso ocurre, el trabajador lesionado abandona su derecho a recibir atención médica y salarios perdidos relacionados con esa lesión en el futuro y se queda con la suma de dinero acordada.

En nuestra firma siempre se hace que la compañía de seguro page por los honorarios de abogados y costos por separado del dinero otorgado a la persona lesionada.

Es muy importante para nosotros que la persona lesionada entienda cómo procede un caso y qué medidas pueden tomar para mejorar el caso.

Primero, necesitan determinar si tienen alguno de los síntomas que usualmente van junto con el trastorno de estrés postraumático. A continuación, necesitan ver al médico en varias ocasiones y someterse a un tratamiento adecuado para documentar la severidad de sus lesiones. Simplemente indicado, una persona que ve al médico varias veces para el tratamiento se espera que sea más lesionado que alguien que ve a un médico una vez.

Con respecto a saber cuánto deben resolver el caso para el trabajador extranjero necesita entender que no se le permitirá entrar en los Estados Unidos para aparecer ante el juez. Nuestras leyes de inmigración no permitirán esto. Por lo tanto, el juez tendrá que tomar una decisión basada en las pruebas de registro antes de él, que por lo general incluye deposiciones. Desde el momento en que una reclamación se presenta hasta que un juez decida tarda unos 18 meses. Continue reading →

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How much is paid for death benefits?

The weekly death benefit is capped at the TTD rate of the deceased person. The TTD rate is 66 2/3 % of the weekly gross pay of the deceased (capped at $1,510.76 for 2019). If there is a wife and children, an additional 16 2/3 % is divided equally to the dependent children in addition to the 50% to the wife.

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If there is no wife but there is one dependent child, the child will receive 50% of the deceased’s weekly gross pay (let’s call that the average weekly wage or AWW for simplicity), 2 or more dependent children will receive the 66 2/3 % split equally until 1 child no longer qualifies by turning 18 or turning 24 attending full time classes in an educational institute.

Which children qualify for death benefits and for how long? The child must be either:

  1. Under the age of 18 or
  2. Aged 18 to 23 and engaged in full time education
  3. Or even older than 18 and incapable of self support by reason of    mental or physical disability/incapacity.

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Don’t delay on filing a claim for the death of a defense contractor worker. When workers are sent overseas and pass away, a death claim should always be filed and it is best to think that it must be filed within one year. This is called the Statute of Limitations. Most overseas contractor employees are on call 24 hours per day, 7 days per week even during their recreational time. This means most death claims are compensable for the overseas worker. A worker’s death on Guam as he was trying to save 2 drowning men was held compensable. In O’Leary v. Brown-Pacific-Maxon, 340 U.S. 504, 508 (1951), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the death arose from the “zone of special danger”. When an employee in Korea spent his recreation day boating with a friend, his drowning was ruled compensable by the US Supreme Court. O’Keeffe v. Smith, Hinchman, 380 U.S. 359, 363-4 (1965). Blog-Pic-291x300

Death Benefits are the same for aliens and non-nationals as United States Residents (and Canadian Residents) except….Dependency benefits in any foreign country are limited to the surviving wife or children, or if none exists to the father or mother whom the employee partially supported for the year prior to the death. 42 USCS 1652(b). For US Residents and Canadian Residents making a claim for death benefits, understand that the wife, children, parents, grandparents are entitled to benefits but if none exists, then anyone is a dependent if they receive more than ½ of their support from decedent and they may apply for and receive death benefits 33 USC 909(d), 26 USCS 152.

The most important point I want you to remember is Dependents only have one year from the Death to file a claim. This is called the Statute of Limitation. On a death claim. Once we are retained, this firm files a LS-262 within one year of the death. So if your loved one died from a bomb blast for instance as happened last month to a Valiant Integrated Services worker, the family must file within one year.

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Our firm represents many foreign workers injured in War Zones. They were working for American contractors who flew them from their homes in different countries including Peru, Colombia, and Honduras to serve as security guards in the war zones to help our Military. These security guards serve alongside our US Military soldiers and sustain injuries in these war zones including psychological injuries. PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is a diagnosis for psychological injuries that the some of the guards suffered. If a guard believes he has suffered psychological injuries, he must take certain actions.

Before a guard can file an injury, he must seek medical care on his own in his own country with a medical doctor. He has one year from the time of that medical report which links his psychological condition to his employment in the war zone to file a worker’s compensation claim in the federal courts in the United States of America.

The medical report will have to be translated to English so that the people who read it can understand it. The employer’s attorney may schedule a defense medical examination with a doctor of their choice. If that report is favorable for the injured worker, then he has a better chance of winning his claim for his psychological injury being related to his employment.

But what will happen if he does win his case? He will receive past money, but it still does not require the employer nor its carrier to pay out a lump sum settlement. A lump sum settlement can only be entered in if the two parties come to an agreement on a number to settle the claim. If that occurs the injured worker gives up his right to receive both medical care and lost wages related to that injury in the future.

This firm always has the insurance company pay its attorneys fees and costs separately from the money awarded to the injured person.

It is very important to us that an injured person understand how a case proceeds and what action they can take to make the case better.

First, they need to determine if they have any of the symptoms that usually go along with Post-traumatic stress disorder. Next, they need to see the doctor on several occasions and undergo proper treatment to document the severity of their injuries. Simply stated, a person who sees the doctor several times for treatment would expected to be more injured than someone who sees a doctor one time.

With respect to knowing how much they should settle the case for the foreign worker needs to understand he will not be allowed to enter the United States to appear in front of the judge. Our immigration laws to not allow this. Therefore, the judge will have to make a decision based on the record evidence before him which usually includes depositions. From the time a claim is filed until a Judge rules takes about 18 months.

Not all cases are won. The judge can find the claimant is not credible and there could be an unfavorable opinion rendered by the Judge and based on the defense attorneys’ doctor that the judge accepts. Even if the case is won, the defense attorney can appeal the decision causing an additional on year approval. Continue reading →

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This January, an Administrative Law Judge approved a settlement reached by Javier Ruiz, Esq. relating to home modifications needed by a client (pictured below with his consent) in a Defense Base Act (DBA) case. The case involved litigation of complex legal issues requiring expert testimony as to the modifications needed to the client’s home. For instance, a wheelchair bound injured worker will need lower light switches, doors widened, ramps created, and lower sinks.

To accomplish these necessary modifications, this firm took the depositions of engineers and accessibility experts who testified as to the necessity and cost of home modifications.  Mr. Ruiz travels the country  in his pursuit of justice and fairness for our clients. Attorneys Jo Ann Hoffman & Associates are proud to be able to help injured workers like this who are often ignored by insurance companies.

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Multitude of Benefits Available Under the Defense Base Act/Longshore Act

Do you know the types of benefits available to you if you are injured in an accident covered by the Defense Base Act/Longshore Act? Broadly speaking, there are two types of benefits available under the DBA: 1) compensation benefits and 2) medical benefits. Home modification falls under medical benefits.

Many injured workers incorrectly assume that medical benefits simply means doctors visits, surgeries, medication, and physical therapy. Fortunately, the definition of medical benefits under Section 907 of the Act is very broad, so broad that it not only includes purely medical benefits like doctors visits, surgeries, medication, and physical therapy, but the definition also includes medically necessary and reasonable apparatus. Continue reading →

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La Ley de Base de Defensa, comúnmente conocida como DBA, proporciona beneficios de Compensación y Muerte del Trabajador para los empleados de contratistas del gobierno. Permítanme explicar cómo funciona hacer un reclamo bajo esta ley.

Esta firma presenta reclamaciones de indemnización y muerte contra empresas como KBR, Fluor, Dyncorp, Academi, Lockheed Martin, SES, Servicios de Ciencia e Ingeniería, Sallyport, Michael Baker, Ciencias de la Computación Raytheon, CSR, Vinnell Arabia, MPRI Ltd., Engility, Tetra Tech , Planate Management Group, SOC, Mission Essential Personnel, AECOM, Triple Canopy y Green Group en un tribunal federal. Si usted era uno de los trabajadores contratistas, puede presentar una reclamación sin tener que venir a los Estados Unidos. Debe documentar su lesión consultando a un médico por una lesión física o psicológica causada por su empleo. Los beneficios que presentamos cubiertos por la Ley incluyen atención médica y salarios perdidos y beneficios de sobrevivientes en caso de fallecimiento. Para las personas que viven fuera de los Estados Unidos, esos beneficios generalmente se ofrecen en una suma global. Nunca somos más felices que cuando entregamos un cheque de liquidación grande a nuestros clientes. Los transportistas pagan nuestros honorarios y costos por separado en estas reclamaciones de DBA.

Una vez que el empleado regresa a casa, generalmente está solo para buscar atención médica. Las lesiones físicas pueden durar años y empeorar una vez que el empleado está en casa sin tratamiento. Los empleados que estaban estacionados en zonas de guerra a menudo desarrollan lesiones psicológicas como el trastorno de estrés postraumático (PTSD, por sus siglas en inglés) que permanece sin tratamiento durante años una vez que regresan a su país de origen. El empleado debe ver a un médico en su país de origen. Este bufete de abogados paga para que estos registros médicos sean transcritos por un traductor certificado, de modo que los registros puedan presentarse ante el tribunal y se haga un reclamo para obtener los beneficios adecuados.

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The Defense Base Act commonly referred to as the DBA provides Worker’s Compensation and Death Benefits for  employees of government contractors. Let me explain how making a claim works under this Act.
This firm files compensation and death claims against corporations including KBR, Fluor, Valiant Integrated Services, Dyncorp, Academi, Lockheed Martin, SES, Science and Engineering Services, Sallyport, Michael Baker, Computer Sciences Raytheon, CSR, Vinnell Arabia, MPRI Ltd., Engility, Tetra Tech, Planate Management Group, SOC, Mission Essential Personnel, Valiant AECOM, Triple Canopy and Green Group in Federal court. If you were one of the contractor workers you can make a claim without coming to the United States.  You  must document your injury by seeing a doctor for either a physical or psychological injury caused by your employment. Benefits that we file covered by the Act include medical care and lost wages and survivor benefits in case of a death.  For individuals living outside the United States, those benefits are generally offered in a lump sum. We are never happier than when we hand over a large settlement check to our clients. We have the carriers pay our fees and costs separately on these DBA claims.

IMG_8028-225x300Once the employee returns home he is generally on his own to seek medical care.  Physical injuries can last for years and worsen once the employee is home without treatment.  The employees who were stationed in war zones often develop psychological injuries such as PTSD which goes untreated for years once they return to their home country. The employee must see a doctor in their home country. This law firm pays to have these medical records transcribed by a certified translator so that the records can be filed with the court and a claim made for proper benefits.

There is a statue of limitations and we need to file these claims within one year of the injured person seeing a doctor and finding out they have psychological symptoms caused by the war zone work. Some of those symptoms include flashbacks, distrust, nightmares, loss of some memories, depression, avoiding situations that remind you of the event, negative changes and feelings, hyperarousal, over reaction to loud noises,  physical reactions such as sweating, a pounding heart, confusion, and nausea when exposed to war zone memories or noises. We can file a hearing loss claim once a hearing test is performed and where the loss is due to exposure to gunfire, plane noises, bombs or other loud noise.

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We are seeing injuries in Puerto Rico occurring when linemen are restoring power and when workers are doing hurricane repairs or rebuilding. Anyone injured under a contract with an American company should consult with this firm about getting money for those injuries. All consultations are free and there is no charge unless we obtain a settlement.
Generally the insurance company is providing benefits for the linemen or worker once they return home. The lineman or injured worker then sees a local Workers compensation attorney who applies for benefits from the State workers compensation system where they live. Once the worker recovers per the treating doctor and receives a few checks, that is generally the end of the case.
But it should not be. This firm has long held the view that these are Federal Claims that must be filed in the Federal Longshore and Defense Base Act Court system.
The Division has weighed in and confirmed they have jurisdiction.
This firm anticipated this and opened our Puerto Rico office last year to handle these claims.
https://www.joannhoffman.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Image-10-17-18-at-4.15-PM-300x200.jpgWhy does this firm care?
The difference to an injured person on a minor hand injury can be $50,000 in Federal Court versus $15,000 in the State Workers Compensation system for a small injury.
We are well equipped to handle these case with our Main office in South Florida and Our Satellite office in Puerto Rico.
For the Puerto Rico injured workers who came from the United States and received medical care in the States, we need you to know a few things:
You have the right to choose your doctor. Please do not sign a paper saying your choice of doctor is the one the insurance company picked for you. Why? Because we can help you pick a doctor that will help you medically and financially. Why would the insurance company help you pick a doctor that would help them pay more money? Exactly.
What to do now? Perhaps you are reading this and feel you need more information about the financial benefit and time limitation to have us file a DBA claim for you.

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Honorarios y costos de abogados son pagados por la compañía de seguro cuando al cliente se le obtiene un acuerdo legal. Nosotros tenemos un aviso en la entrada de nuestra firma: “Ayudar a los heridos es nuestra Pasión” y eso explica porque trabajamos. Estamos comprometidos a ayudarles a los trabajadores lesionados en todo el mundo que fueron heridos trabajando bajo un contrato con una empresa estadounidense. En la realización de esta larga misión, estamos constantemente escuchando las necesidades de nuestros clientes. Buscamos maneras de mejorar nuestros servicios hacia ellos y poner los servicios legales y el conocimiento a su alcance. Déjenos dejar claro: nuestras tarifas y costos dependen en que obtengamos un acuerdo para nuestros clientes de DBA. Nosotros no hacemos que los clientes paguen los costos. Cuando ganamos un caso, por ley la compañía de seguro paga nuestras honorarios y costos. También tomamos en consideración que cuando un cliente de DBA vive fuera de los Estados Unidos y hace un reclamo de beneficios, es muy probable que vaya ser negado. La razón por la cual sus beneficios pueden ser negados son los siguientes: la compañía de seguro no puede encontrar médicos en otros países al igual que pagarles en monedas internacionales para poder tratarlos.  Esto significa que el trabajador lesionado va tener que pagar todo el tratamiento médico. Generalmente, entre más tratamiento médico usted reciba, más grande va hacer su compensación.

IMG_7946-e1539370237245-1-225x300Así que usted va a obtener su propio tratamiento y nos va permitir buscar reembolso de esos gastos para usted.  Sabemos que eso puede ser un obstáculo para el tratamiento, pero también sabemos que como una persona lesionada puede ir a un hospital local por una suma razonable. Esa visita va a documentar sus lesiones siempre y cuando usted de su historia de trabajo que hizo para los contratistas Americanos y como usted fue lesionado haciendo ese trabajo. Por favor obtenga esos registros médicos para que pueda enviarlos a nosotros.

Si usted cree que ha perdido la audición en uno o ambos oídos debido a su trabajo, obtenga una prueba auditiva y solicite una copia de los resultados de esa prueba. Necesitamos sus registros médicos para solicitar sus beneficios. Juntos podemos trabajar hacia una compensación justa para usted. También empujamos para poner fondos en sus manos lo más rápido posible. Debemos traducir sus registros médicos al inglés y presentarlos a la Corte apropiada. Aquí ves una deposición que tiene lugar en nuestra oficina.

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