One of the hardest and most difficult times in your work life may be when you are injured overseas. You may not know what to do, how to do it, and who to call. This firm has handled thousands of Defense Base Act cases, from initial client intake, to trial before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), so these are our tips to make your case successful. The days following your initial injury are the most important in how the rest of your claim goes so take the following actions:
- Report your accident and injuries immediately to your supervisor. Your report should be in writing and should detail ALL body parts injured in the accident. Send an email with a bcc to yourself.
- If allowed by company policy, take photos of the area where you were injured, and make certain you take photos of physical injuries if the injury is one that caused bleeding to your body, visible damage to your body or clothing.
- Every employer we have dealt with provides medical treatment in each country, be it in Afghanistan, Iraq, or elsewhere. Make sure you are seen by a base medic and ask for a copy of your medical records which you should keep or photo. If you are not being medically evacuated, and you decide to wait until your next R&R date to treat at home, make sure you see the medic every few days, or as often as needed, and obtain the medical reports. These medical reports will be difficult if not impossible for us to obtain once you leave and return home. The Employers and insurance companies may lose or not be able to find these medical records, which makes proving the seriousness of the injury more difficult if you are not given your medical records.
- Related to #3, if possible, do not wait to come home until R&R if your injury is disabling. If you find it difficult to do your job, you should ask to be sent home prior to R&R.
- Do not “resign” from your employment– do not sign any forms indicating that you are quitting, resigning or otherwise terminating your employment with your employer. Your employer should send you home on an MLOA– medical leave of absence.
- List every injury in your report of injury to your employer. Leaving out an injury in your initial report may cause the insurance company to deny your claim for that part of your body. If you fail to report what is called an “unscheduled” injury, for instance, a psychological injury but you report your knee injury, your case will be negatively impacted. Unscheduled body parts give you special rights to continued compensation payments, which enhance your claim. Unscheduled body parts include the head, neck, low back, middle back, shoulders, and mental injuries.
- Contact a qualified attorney as soon as you can. The days following your accident are vital to quickly and efficiently opening your claim.
- You are entitled to your own choice of physician under the Defense Base Act. Do not let the insurance carrier pick a doctor for you or suggest a doctor to you.