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The Defense Base Act and why it comes under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Comp Act

The history of the Defense Base Act is not only important to all of us who practice this specialized area of the law, but should be understand by the men and women who are affected by this law – those who work for defense base contractors or the U.S. Government overseas. There are risks that come with accepting a position to work for a defense base contractor or our government outside of the United States, and if you are one of those people you should have an idea of what the laws are that pertain to your situation, and how they came into being. This information should also be of interest to insurance professionals, covered employees and their families, and all others in the workers’ compensation claims industry.

According to United States’ Department of Labor website, “The Defense Base Act provides workers’ compensation protection to civilian employees working outside the United States on US military bases or under a contract with the U.S. government for public works or for national defense.” The DBA is designed to provide medical treatment and compensation to employees of defense contractors injured in the scope and course of employment.


Many people do not even realize that The Defense Base Act (DBA) (ch. 357 of the 77th United States Congress, 55 Stat. 622, enacted on August 16, 1941, codified at 42 U.S.C. §§ 1651–1654) is an extension of the federal workers’ compensation program that covers longshoremen and harbor workers, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act 33 U.S.C. §§ 901–950.

At first glance it might not make sense that defense workers would be covered under federal law that pertains to longshoremen and harbor workers. But once you realize that the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) was the original bill to cover work-related injuries that occur in maritime work that included work on maritime military bases, then you can understand how the Defense Base Act came into being as an extension of the LHWCA.

As is true of many laws that have come into being in the United States, the Defense Base Act has a unique and fascinating origin.

To learn more about the Defense Base Act and the legal services we provide to all defense contractors and many other employees overseas, please go to http://www.defensebaseinjury.com, or call us at our toll free number (866) 910-1333. At Kenneth G. Franconero PLLC we stand up for the rights of the overseas defense contractors who serve and protect our great nation!