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What is the Defense Base Act?

If you are a civilian from New York who received injuries while working as a private employee on a military base in the desert nations of Iraq or Afghanistan, you may wonder what the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act has to do with you. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the LHWCA is a statute related to the Defense Base Act, which affords you workers’ compensation benefits for job-related injuries you received while working overseas for a government contractor or subcontractor. The same division of the government that supervises the Longshore Act also administers the Defense Base Act.

Your employment does not have to have taken place directly on a military base for you to receive compensation under the Defense Base Act, nor does your injury have to have happened in a foreign country. Coverage under the DBA extends to overseas U.S. territories and possessions, as well as foreign countries, on land the government uses specifically for military purposes. Other situations in which the DBA applies include the following:

  • Employment with the USO or similar organizations providing services for the benefit of the Armed Forces
  • Working on contracts outside the United States funded by the Foreign Assistance Act
  • Public work contracts outside the United States in connection with any U.S. government agency

In order to provide compensation to injured civilian workers, the DBA requires employers to secure insurance coverage. Under the LHWCA and the Defense Base Act, the insurance requirements are identical.

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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