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Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Overseas Workers and Government Contractors

Federal law stipulates that all United States government contractors and subcontractors working overseas must obtain workers’ compensation coverage for civilian employees. This overseas insurance is referred to as Defense Base Act coverage. Currently, reconstruction contracts are issued for Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other parts of the world. While these contracts are attractive to both companies and workers, they contain a great deal of risk as well.

Benefits for Overseas Workers

Reconstruction contracts in Iraq & Afghanistan are potentially attractive for U.S. businesses but they also contain a certain element of risk. The Defense Base Act is a key piece of legislation that deals with workers’ compensation coverage for overseas employees of government contracts. The Act provides benefits with similar compensation to those afforded by the Longshoreman and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Coverage includes medical expenses, loss of wages, and disabilities, as well as death benefits. Often when government contractors are seriously injured, employers are reluctant or slow to report and process the claim. The Law Office of Robert W. Nizich will help you to obtain a fair and timely payment.

Workers who take the risks associated with the rebuilding process in Iraq & Afghanistan – or any workers employed by a federal government contractor working outside the United States – are entitled, under the Defense Base Act, to be compensated for their injuries. According to the Act, injured workers or the dependents of a worker who has been killed are eligible to receive weekly benefits for time lost from work, complete medical coverage, and expenses. In addition, workers who sustain permanent impairment may be compensated with disability benefits.

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The Defense Base Act

In the past decade, the number of civilian workers hired by American companies to work on overseas projects has increased. Currently there are thousands of civilian workers in Iraq and Afghanistan reconstructing the war-torn countries. Other workers are employed across the Middle East and throughout the world. These civilian contractors are often faced with great dangers overseas, whether their work is associated with a military presence or not. The Defense Base Act provides workers’ compensation coverage to these overseas contractors. Since its establishment in 1941, the Defense Base Act has been amended to include public works contracts (including non-military projects). The Act’s reach has expanded to include virtually any contracted, overseas work for the federal government.

Injured workers and the families of killed workers who successfully present a Defense Base Act claim are eligible to receive compensation for lost pay, medical costs, and permanent disability benefits. Many of the rules covering the Defense Base Act are a product of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.

Who is covered?

Employees covered by the Defense Base Act include:

  • Workers on a military base or reservation outside the United States
  • Employees that provide services funded by the federal government outside the realm of regular military issue
  • Public workers funded by the federal government for work outside the country
  • Public workers or those with a military contract from a foreign government engaged in work deemed necessary to U.S. National Security
  • Employees of any sub-contractors of a contract involved in work detailed above

Like most workers' compensation laws, the Defense Base Act requires the employer to purchase a workers' compensation insurance policy which provides coverage to overseas workers. The employer must purchase separate Defense Base Act overseas workers' compensation insurance coverage and may not rely upon a policy purchased domestically for work inside the country. The insurance company is then required to pay eligible injured workers for their damages. The Defense Base Act also covers individuals hurt while working on a short term or temporary work assignment for a United States government contractor in a foreign country.

For a more comprehensive examination of the Defense Base Act, click here »

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Contact the Law Office of Robert W. Nizich

At the Law Office of Robert W. Nizich, our workers’ compensation attorneys are experienced in obtaining substantial verdicts and settlements for overseas workers covered by the Defense Base Act. If you were employed by a government contractor and sustained work-related injuries while overseas, you may be eligible to collect damages for lost wages, medical expenses, and disability coverage. If you are a dependent of a worker who was killed while working overseas, you may be entitled to death benefits. Contact the Law Office of Robert W. Nizich for a free case evaluation. We have handled many overseas workers’ compensation claims and can help you maximize your award. Strict statutes of limitations apply, so contact our office today!

Contact the Law Office of Robert W. Nizich for a free overseas workers’ compensation case evaluation. We are experienced in workers’ compensation claims and can help you maximize your award. If you have questions about coverage or would like to know if you have a case, contact our office today.





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Robert W. Nizich
839 S Beacon St Suite # 332
San Pedro, California 90731

Ph. 310.832.3500
Fx. 310.548.6364