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A Personal Injury, Workers' Compensation and Defense Base Act Law Firm Fighting for the Injured.

Articles Posted in Defense Base Act Death Benefits

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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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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.


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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