Legal Law

Defense Base Law: Scheduled and Unscheduled Injuries

The Defense Base Act (“DBA”) provides workers’ compensation benefits to civilian employees and private military contractors injured while working outside the US on bases or working for a company under a US government contract. for national defense or public works. Most of today’s claims are the result of injuries sustained while working abroad in Afghanistan or Iraq.

There are two types of injuries under the Defense Base Law: 1) Scheduled Injuries and 2) Unscheduled Injuries. Scheduled injuries provide a set number of weeks of benefits when particular parts of the body are injured. Below is a list of injuries scheduled under Section 908 of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”), as extended by the Defense Base Law:

scheduled injuries:

(1) Missing arm, 312 weeks compensation.

(2) Missing leg, 288

(3) Missing hand, 244

(4) Lost foot, 205

(5) Lost eye, 160

(6) Thumb missing, 75

(7) Loss of the first finger, 46

(8) Big toe missing, 38

(9) Loss of second finger, 30

(10) Third finger missing, 25

(11) Missing toe other than great toe, 16

(12) Loss of fourth (ring) finger, 15

(13) Compensation for hearing loss in one ear, 52

(14) Compensation for hearing loss in both ears, 200

All other injuries are considered unscheduled injuries under the DBA, eg herniated disc, brain injury, PTSD, hip injury, shoulder injury, etc.

The formula for determining the number of weeks of benefits available is determined by your doctor, through your disability rating based on the AMA Guidelines. Here’s an example:

James, a DynCorp employee, sustains a torn ACL in his left knee after falling off a HESCO barrier in Afghanistan. After ACL reconstruction surgery and physical therapy, his orthopedic surgeon rates his injury as 25% to his lower extremity (leg) based on the AMA guidelines. As stated above, the total number of weeks available to you is 288 weeks.

25% X 288 weeks = 72 weeks of benefits.

72 weeks of benefits X 1,100 Average Weekly Wage (“AWW”) will come to a settlement of $79,200.

Unscheduled injuries:

Unscheduled injuries (such as a herniated cervical disc, rotator cuff tear, or brain injury) result in monetary compensation measured by the difference between an employee’s pre-injury wages and the wages deemed that an employee is able to earn after injury after an employee reaches maximum medical improvement (ie, when an employee’s injury stabilizes). It is also best explained through an example.

Stan, a private military contractor for Xe, suffers a herniated disc in his neck when his head hits the roof of an armored SUV when he hits a pothole on a rocky road in Afghanistan. Stan earned $4,500 a week from Xe during the year before his injury. Stan undergoes surgery at home and completes his physical therapy. Due to his injury, Stan is unable to return to the work he did in Afghanistan. Stan gets a job at a local GMC dealership that sells trucks. He makes $1,000 a week, leaving a difference of what he makes at the dealership and Xe of $3,500. The maximum he has to pay the DBA insurer is $1,256 per week. The difference of $3,500 is greater than the maximum compensation rate of $1,256, so Stan would receive the maximum compensation rate even though he makes $1,000 at the dealership.

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