Types of Accidents that are covered by the Defense Base Act
Unlike in a personal injury case, where it is necessary to prove that someone else was negligent and caused the accident, a Defense Base Act case does not require an "at fault" party. You do not have to prove that someone else caused your injury! All that you have to show is that you were injured while employed with one of the many contractors doing work for the United States military and, at times, other government agencies. Most people understand, for example, that if you are in a car accident, truck accident, or train accident and the other driver was at fault in causing the accident, you can sue them with an attorney's help for your damages.
What is not common knowledge, however, is that in a Defense Base Act case, you do not have to show that anyone is at fault. Sometimes, accidents just happen! For example, let's assume that you are in Italy, working at Aviano Air Base, working for the Air Force in a security role. If you fall down a flight of stairs, if a weapon misfires, if you even choke on food you yourself prepared; it is still covered! Certainly, if there is an at fault party, you may actually have two cases. The Defense Base Act cases, like the Longshore & Harborworkers Act, acknowledge that some accidents just happen.
We were working on a case recently where the injured worker was just standing by a truck. You wouldn't think standing by a truck waiting for authorization to leave the premises was so dangerous! Well, a tank of compressed oxygen fell off a different truck about three hundred feet away, clipped a steel bar on the way down, knocked off the safety cap, and turned it into a missile that went flying after our client! Our client was not at fault. No one else was determined to be at fault. It just happened! Our client was covered and is receiving benefits. So, you see, fault is not the issue in these cases. And that is a good thing because some horrendous accidents can and do occur in Defense Base Act cases. In Iraq and Afghanistan; the current "hotspots" for military activity, if a contractor employee is shot, injured due to an improvised explosive device (IED), or just simply rear ended out on a highway, it is all covered.
The real "trick" here is to know what to do. Are you in fact covered by the Defense Base Act? How is the claim filed, what statements are you supposed to give, what statements are you supposed to avoid, what doctors do you go to, what paperwork is necessary, what are the time deadlines, how do you get paid, etc., etc. For those and other very important questions, we would suggest that you or your family members immediately contact us for help in the process. After all, you need your health care, you need your income, and you need to avoid any delays or complications.