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Defense Base Act Attorney Niles Sneed

Injured or Experiencing PTSD from working overseas? Niles Sneed and his team can file your claim for benefits today!

If you suffered injuries while working under a U.S. Government contract in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Europe, Latin American, Africa, or anywhere else in the world, contact attorney Niles Sneed. Don't let an insurance carrier delay, deny, or limit the full range of benefits you are entitled to under the Defense Base Act. From claiming your injuries are "not compensable" to characterizing an employee's death as "arising from natural causes", insurance adjusters look for any reasons to lessen your recovery. Whether you're dealing with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorders from enemy fire or physical injuries to an accident or chemical exposure, you have rights that should be protected.

Niles Sneed is an experienced defense base act lawyer who specializes in representing national and international civilian contractors injured while working on a government-funded project, such as a military base or an embassy. Niles understands the complexities of the federal Defense Base Act and has helped thousands of DBA clients secure maximum compensation through the U.S. Department of Labor. Each week Niles Sneed and his team negotiate high-dollar settlements to ensure each client is provided the money needed to address their physical and psychological injuries, along with the economic impact experienced as a result of the on-the-job injury while working overseas.

On this page you'll learn more information about the Defense Base Act, whether you're qualified to file a claim under the Defense Base Act, and why it is important to consult with an attorney experienced with handling claims filed under the Act.

What is a Defense Base Act Lawyer?

A Defense Base Act Lawyer is an attorney that represents injured civilian employees and contractors in obtaining medical treatment and compensation protection established through the federal Defense Base Act. The Defense Base Act (DBA) was created by Congress in 1941 and is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Attorneys that help federal contact employees pursue DBA benefits are familiar with the unique laws and regulations that apply to these types of claims, including medical treatment, lifetime disability compensation, vocational rehabilitation services, death benefits, lump sum settlements, and more.

What is the Defense Base Act?

The Defense Base Act is a federal law that provides workers' compensation coverage for civilian employees of contractors working on U.S. military bases abroad. The DBA covers workers in a variety of occupations, including construction, maintenance, and security. If a worker is injured on the job or during their course of employment, the DBA provides for medical expenses and compensation for lost wages. The DBA also covers death benefits for workers who are killed in the line of duty. Workers who are covered by the DBA can file a claim with the Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs. Claims are processed and benefits are paid through the DBA insurance program, which is administered by private insurance companies.

Do I qualify to file a Defense Base Act Claim?

To qualify for DBA benefits you must meet the following requirements;

  1. You must have been a civilian employee;

  2. And you must have been injured or become ill while working;

  3. The employment activity must be a DBA covered project;

Whether a civilian contractor was working on a "DBA covered project" often requires the analysis of an DBA attorney. In brief, there are a number of ways that foreign nationals can work on U.S. military bases or other lands used by the United States for military purposes. One way is to work for a private employer on a base or land being used for U.S. military purposes outside of U.S. territory. Another way is to work on a public contract with a U.S. government agency, such as a construction or service contract. Employees can also qualify for assistance under the DBA if they are working on contracts approved and funded by the United States under the Foreign Assistance Act. These contracts generally provide for the sale of military equipment, materials, and services to U.S. allies, which often involves companies such as Halliburton, KRB, Bechtel, DynCorp, and countless more. Lastly, working for an American employer handling the service of providing welfare to counties outside the U.S. for the benefit of the military avails the workers to DBA benefits.

Some examples of covered employees include; security personnel, contract interpreters, language interpreters, couriers, engineers, clerical workers, construction workers, translators, mechanics, cyber security workers, cooks, and much more.

Defense Base Act Lawyers can help civilian employees that have suffered injury in any country featuring a U.S. military or government presence, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Guam, Italy, Great Britain, Russia, Panama, Turkey, Bosnia, Croatia, or anywhere else. Clients internationally can obtain compensation through the DBA. Whether you live in Texas, California, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, or some place internationally such as Uganda, Kenya, Kosovo, Peru, Macedonia, India, Peru, an attorney should be able to assist you and protect your rights.

If you are unsure whether you qualify for DBA benefits, you should speak with Niles Sneed today. An experienced DBA lawyer who can evaluate your case and advise you of your rights.

Are foreign nationals covered under the DBA?

Yes, foreign nationals working on defense bases overseas are also covered by the DBA. Workers' compensation benefits are paid by the employer's insurance carrier, not by the government. Therefore, government contractors must also purchase insurance coverage for all of their employees working outside the United States under a U.S. government contract, which includes local hires and foreign nationals, sometimes called third-country nationals.

How is a DBA claim filed?

To file a claim under the DBA yourself, you generally must notify your employer of your injury within 30 days of the event and submit a written claim to the OWCP within one year of the date of injury. However, if your injury is psychological, you are not held to these deadlines. Don't worry if you failed to meet these notice requirements. A Defense Base Act attorney may be able to still file your claim and have your injuries deemed compensable. Many DBA claims are actually filed by the employer without an employee's knowledge. The Department of Labor requires an employer to file a "Employer's First Report of Injury" Form LS-202, within 10 days of the injury if it causes loss of one or more work shifts. When this occurs, an employee doesn't need to make contact with their employer or submit a claim themselves.

Examples of injuries covered under the Defense Base Act




There are a number of ways that civilian contractors suffer amputations while working occur on a military base. Many accidents that result in a loss of a limb while workers overseas involves heavy machinery. A mechanics arm or leg getting caught in a piece of equipment, incoming rockets or motors causing explosions damage a limb is so badly damaged that it needs to be removed. Chemical exposure and spreading infections can also result in an amputated finger, hand, arm, or leg.

Broken Bones

Civilian contractors often suffer broken bones in training events, vehicle accidents, falls within the shower, mishandling of machinery, and fights.

Brain Injuries


Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are one of the leading causes of death and disability among civilian contractors. TBIs can occur when the head is hit by an object, such as a bullet or piece of shrapnel, or when the head experiences a sudden, violent force. TBIs can also occur when the head is thrown violently forward or backward, causing the brain to bounce around inside the skull. In some cases, TBIs may not be immediately apparent, and symptoms may not develop until days or weeks after the injury.

Burn Injuries


Military bases typically have a lot of buildings and vehicles, all of which can be potential fire hazards. Another common cause of burn injuries on military bases is explosions. This can happen during training exercises or when munitions are being handled. In addition, many military bases have weapons that use lasers or other powerful beams of light, which can also cause burns if they come into contact with the skin.

Cancer-causing carcinogens


Unfortunately, overseas contract workers are often exposed to high levels of radiation, both during their service and as a result of living on contaminated bases. In addition, some U.S. military actions are furthered in areas that have been contaminated by hazardous waste, such as the burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq which caused many civilian contractors to develop cancer.

Cardiac complications


There are many risk factors government contract employees are exposed to that can contribute to the development of cardiac complications, including exposure to pollution and toxic chemicals, physical inactivity, and psychological stressors such as the threat of incoming rockets and similar attacks. The Defense Base Act provides that an an employer is liable for employment conditions that cause an injury or even aggravate or accelerate a pre-existing condition, meaning worsening cardiac complications are covered injuries under the provision.

Collapsed lung

Overseas contract employees often collapsed lungs either through accidents involving blunt force trauma or accidents that involving penetrating injuries, such as a stab wound. A collapsed lung, also called a pneumothorax, is a condition in which air escapes from the lungs and fills up the space between the lungs and the chest wall. This can occur if the lung is punctured by an object such as a broken rib. Physical trauma to the chest can also cause the lungs to collapse and prevent the employee from being able to return to work.

Crush injuries

Crush injuries are devastating physical conditions and often occur when objects falling from heights, or being struck by heavy machinery, building collapses, and becoming trapped in confined spaces. Crush injuries can cause serious damage to the body, including organ failure, broken bones, and tissue death. In some cases, crush injuries can even be fatal.

Earplug Injuries


A lawsuit was recently filed against the manufacturing company 3M for producing and selling defective earplugs to the military. The earplugs were meant to protect soldiers from loud noises, but due to their design flaws, they actually ended up causing hearing loss and other damage.

Eye Injuries

From a small windstorm to a close experience with an explosive device, eye injuries and incidents that can result in some degree of vision loss are unfortunately common to employees working in warzones or engaged in military actions.



A hernia occurs when an organ or piece of tissue protrudes through a weak point in the surrounding muscle. This can happen due to repetitive strain, lifting heavy objects, or coughing. On a military base or warzone, activities that require repetitive strain or lifting heavy objects often cause weak points to develop around surrounding muscles allow to tissue to escape, which results in employee often developing hernias.

Post-traumatic stress disorder


Working in a warzone can be an incredibly stressful and traumatizing experience. Witnessing violence and death on a daily basis can take a toll on even the strongest person, and it's not uncommon for people to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result. Symptoms of PTSD can include flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, and depression.

Spine Injuries


Spinal cord injuries can range from mild to severe, and they can have a profound impact on a person's quality of life. When the spinal cord is damaged, the flow of information between the brain and the body is disrupted, resulting in impairments in movement, sensation, and other vital functions.

What is a Scheduled and Non-Scheduled Injury?

Under the Defense Base Act, scheduled injuries are those that result in the loss of a specific extremity, such as fingers, toes, feet, eyes, nose ears, knees, and elbows. Non-scheduled injuries are those that do not result in the loss of a specific body part and include injury to the neck, back, hips, and shoulders. Compensation for non-scheduled injuries is generally issued as a lump sum, and is based on the injured person’s ability to perform their job following the injury. If, as a result of the non-scheduled injury, the employee is no longer able to perform their overseas duties with the United States military, they are entitled to benefits as covered by the Defense Base Act. Injuries do not have to be suffered during working hours or while on a military base or authorized premises to be covered. All that is required for a condition to be covered under the Defense Base Act is that "the obligations or conditions of employment create the zone of special danger." This ruling provides important protections for workers who contract an injury or illness while working on a military base or in other government-authorized areas.

What DBA benefits can an attorney help me recover?

An attorney can assist you in obtaining medical treatment, disability compensation, vocational rehabilitation, or death benefits through the Defense Base Act

Medical Benefits 


Employees who are injured or who contract an illness while working on a covered project are eligible for medical benefits, which include hospitalization, treatment by a licensed physician, and prescription drugs. The Act allows​​ employees the freedom to use any attorney they would like. 

Disability Benefits

Disability benefits under the Defense Base Act fall under four categories; temporary total, temporary partial, permanent total with annual increase, and permanent partial based upon wage loss (unscheduled) or percent of loss of use a body part (scheduled). 

Vocational Rehabilitation 

U.S. civilian contractors that are deemed permanently disabled and therefore unable to return to work can obtain rehabilitation services through the Department of Labor. This service aids in helping an employee explore new careers and begin the training necessary to handle the new position. 

Death Benefits


Death benefits under the Act equate to half of the employee's average weekly earnings to the surviving spouse or to one child. The amount changes to two-thirds of earnings when there are two or more such survivors, and the sum maxis at the maximum weekly rate allowable for the year the claim settles.

How much is a DBA claim worth?

DBA settlements can be worth $20,000 to $5 million or more, but are determined on a case-by-case basis, making it difficult to determine an average settlement award. Factors that can influence a settlement sum include the severity of your injuries, treatment costs, and economic impact. If you are unable to return to work or have significant medical expenses, your settlement is likely to be higher. The other common factor that impacts the size of a DBA settlement is whether the defendant is willing to go to trial. If the defendant believes that they have a strong case, they may be less likely to settle out of court.

What is lump sum settlement under the DBA?

A lump sum settlement is a one-time payment made to a claimant under the Defense Base Act (DBA). This type of settlement is made out when the claimant agrees to waive their right to future medical benefits and monthly reimbursements. Lump sum settlements are generally used to resolve cases where the employer acknowledges liability, but disputes compensability of the extent of the claimant's injuries. It is important to speak with an attorney before agreeing to a lump sum payment.

Who pays the attorneys fees in a Defense Base Act claim?

Attorney fees for Defense Base Act claims are paid for by either the carrier or employer. After an employer or insurance company has received written notice of a new claim, they have 30 days to respond. If they do not believe they are liable for the injury, the claimant will likely need an attorney. If an attorney is successful in resolving the issue, reasonable attorneys' fees will be charged to the employer or insurance company. The attorney for the claimant submits a request for payment which outlines the number of hours worked on the particular claim and multiplies this by the hourly fee deemed reasonable for the geographical area. By understanding the process for calculating attorneys' fees, claimants can be better prepared if they need to utilize this type of services.

What is a lump sum settlement under the DBA?

A lump sum settlement is a one-time payment under the Defense Base Act made to an injured worker in lieu of ongoing workers' compensation benefits. However, even in ideal conditions, a Defense Base Act claim should not be settled without representation. The insurance company will use tactics to end negotiations and force you to accept a low-ball monetary award. Some of the tricks carriers deploy include going silent and non-responsive when injuries are severe or a client is facing economic difficulties. After silent treatment adjusters know that you will generally accept any sum to obtain some form of relief or closure. A Defense Base Act lawyer can ensure the lump sum is equal to the value of all the future benefits that you are entitled to receive. Workers who are covered by the defense base act are typically eligible for lump sum settlements if they are permanently disabled as a result of their injuries. Lump sum settlements can also be paid to the families of workers who are killed while working on defense contracts overseas.

What should I do if I get injured while working for a government contractor?

If you are injured while working for a government contractor, there are a few steps you should take to protect your health and right to obtain benefits through the Defense Base Act. First, seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Next, contact your employer and file a medical claim. Documentation in the form of medical records and injury reports are important evidence supporting the mechanism of injury, or "causation". Insurance companies and their adjusters are trained to scrutinize claims and deny coverage when there any inclination that your injuries did not occur in the warzone. Finally, contact an attorney to have your claim evaluation and learn of your legal obtain. 

National and International Defense Base Act Lawyer Niles Sneed

Attorney Niles Sneed is a Defense Base Act Lawyer that helps national and international contract employees secure benefits through the U.S. Department of Labor's worker's compensation program. Filing a DBA claim aids injury victims and their families by providing monetary compensation in the form of medical care, wage reimbursement, economic impact, and more. Niles Sneed is skilled with handling insurance carriers and their adjusters when advocating for clients and has secured tens of millions for injured contract workers.


At Sneed & Mitchell LLP, our team fights so that you don't have to. Justice for what you experienced in the warzone is one call away. Contact us today by calling 866-434-0014, for by filling out our quick contact information form and one of our attorneys will reach out to you immediately.

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