The Defense Base Act provides death benefits to the survivors of contractors killed overseas. Recently, a rocket strike in Iraq killed Mr. Nawres Waleed Hamid, a contractor-linguist for Valiant Integrated Services. News outlets report that a widow and two minor children survived Mr. Hamid. More likely than not, Mr. Hamid’s widow and minor children are entitled to Defense Base Act death benefits. What Are Defense Base Act Death Benefits? The Defense Base Act is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Therefore, the Longshore’s Act’s statute for the payment of death benefits controls. The relevant statute is 33 U.S.C. 909, often referred to as Section 9. When a decedent is survived by a widow and minor children, then those children are the preferred class of beneficiaries. In this situation, the pertinent language from Section 9 states: If the injury causes death, the compensation therefrom shall beRead more
Defense Base Act Death Claims After a Plane Crash
Last week, a C-130 aircraft crashed in Afghanistan, killing 6 airmen and 5 civilian contractors. Multiple media outlets reported on the crash. For instance, the Los Angeles Times wrote that the crash occurred Friday at Jalalabad Airfield in Afghanistan. Although a spokesman for the Taliban claimed that militants shot the plane down, those claims remain uncorroborated. This post addresses how a Defense Base Act proceeds when an aircraft accident occurs. The Defense Base Act: The Defense Base Act is a federal workers’ compensation system. It provides protection to contractors and subcontractors working overseas on a United States military base or working under a United States government contract. If a contractor is injured or killed, then the contractor or his loved ones may be entitled to benefits. As for the recent plane crash, any eligible surviving beneficiaries would be entitled to death benefits. When something like this happens, the contractors’ employers file a Form LS-202. This form isRead more
Working Conditions Can Cause Compensable Injuries
An employee’s injury does not have to be caused by a specific traumatic event. Working conditions alone can be sufficient to cause a harm and a compensable disability. Some people do not understand the “injurious working conditions” concept. So, let’s start at the beginning: the prima facie case. When a claimant initiates a Longshore or Defense Base Act claim, they must prove two things: They suffered some harm or pain; and Working conditions existed or an accident occurred which could have caused the harm or pain. If the claimant successfully proves these two things, then they are entitled to the Section 20(a) presumption. See 33 U.S.C. 920(a) (1984). Affirmative medical evidence is not absolutely necessary, but it is helpful. The Section 20(a) presumption is a powerful tool. After the prima facie case is proven, the Longshore and Defense Base Acts presume that the worker’s injury falls under the purview of the applicable Act. Further, the presumptionRead more
Longshore Death Benefits Available for Same-Sex Spouses
Last Friday, the Supreme Court issued its historic decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, wherein the Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment requires States to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to recognize marriages between two people of the same sex performed out-of-State. This post addresses the effect that Obergefell will have on Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act and Defense Base Act death benefits claims. Death Benefits Under the Acts: First, the statutes. Section 9 of the Longshore Act–which also applies to Defense Base Act claims–provides that death benefits shall be paid following a covered employee’s work-related death. See 33 U.S.C. 909. Benefits are paid to particular classes of beneficiaries. Among those beneficiaries are “widows” and “widowers.” Section 2 of the Longshore Act–again, applicable to Defense Base Act claims–defines the terms “widow or widower.” The terms include “only the decedent’s wife or husband living with or dependent for support upon himRead more
How are DBA and Longshore Death Benefits Calculated?
When a civilian contractor or longshore worker dies as a result of their employment, their beneficiaries may be entitled to death benefits. In this post, I examine the methods used to calculate the value of Defense Base Act and Longshore death benefits. I address the importance of the average weekly wage; who may qualify as a beneficiary; compensation rates and cost of living adjustments; and I provide some example death benefits calculations based on hypothetical facts. Keep reading…despite the math. You will see how a death benefits Defense Base Act or Longshore claim could be valued over $1,750,000. Make no mistake: death benefits claims are high dollar, high stakes claims. What Was the Decedent’s Average Weekly Wage? First, start with the decedent’s average weekly wage. Section 10 of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act provides the statutory requirements for determining a contractor or longshore worker’s average weekly wage. Essentially,Read more
How Does DLHWC Divide Longshore Death Benefits Between Spouse and Child When the Maximum Compensation Rate Applies?
Today’s post discusses different methods employed by the Department of Labor’s Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation (“DLHWC”) for the calculation of death benefits between a surviving spouse and a surviving child when the total weekly amount owed for compensation is capped at the applicable maximum compensation rate. This topic is best analyzed with a hypothetical, so here are our facts: (1) Decedent’s average weekly wage at the time of death was $2,500. (2) The maximum compensation rate in effect at the time of death was $1,325.18. (3) Decedent is survived by a spouse and a child. (4) Decedent’s spouse is not the mother of the child; and the child resides with his mother. When a Longshore or Defense Base Act employee is killed in a work-related injury, his beneficiaries are most likely entitled to death benefits. The calculation of death benefits is controlled by Section 9 of theRead more