Many New Yorkers have civilian occupations with the U.S. military. Sometimes their job takes them overseas, where they carry out work on military bases or build structures under contract with the Department of Defense.

These occupations are like any other in that injuries can occur. But if you are a New York construction worker injured on a military base in Iraq, then how can you apply for and receive compensation when the accident took place so far from home?

The Defense Base Act explained

The Defense Base Act, or DBA, is a federal workers’ compensation law that protects civilian workers who get hurt, develop an occupational illness, or die while working on a military base or public project overseas. If any of the following criteria apply to you, then you are covered by the DBA:

  • You work for a private company on a U.S. military base or land used for military purposes overseas.
  • You work on public contracts connected to war activities or national defense overseas.
  • You work for a U.S. employer providing support and welfare services overseas to military personnel. The United Service Organizations (USO) is a popular example.
  • You work on a contract funded under the Foreign Assistance Act carried out at an overseas location. This Act involves the sale of military services, materials, and equipment to U.S. allies.

Those eligible for DBA benefits include mechanics, security personnel, truck drivers, clerical employees, translators, and anyone else working abroad for a private company on a military or U.S. government contract.

Statute of limitations for filing a claim

If you are injured, then the DBA generally requires you to provide written notice to your employer within 30 days after the accident or within 30 days after you become aware that a relationship exists between your injury and your work.

If you suffer an occupational illness, then the deadline is extended to two years, as not all illnesses display symptoms immediately, and the notice period starts as soon as you realize that your condition is related to your work on the military or government contract.

Compensation structure

DBA compensation benefits are based on your average weekly pay at the time you were injured. For injuries, occupational illnesses, and total disability, you will receive two-thirds of your weekly wage. For partial disabilities, you will be paid two-thirds of the difference between your pre- and post-injury wages. Should death occur, your beneficiaries will receive an aggregate of no more than two-thirds of your pay.


Like civilian personal injury actions, DBA claims may be settled, although all settlements must be approved by the Administrative Law or U.S. Department of Labor judge assigned to your case. If your employer did not provide medical treatment or compensation within 30 days of receiving your notice, forcing you to retain an attorney, then they are liable for attorney fees.

Regardless of the circumstances of your injury, a New York personal attorney can protect your rights in both civilian and military situations. Contact Jayson Lutzky at 718-514-6619 if you were injured. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. Mr. Lutzky is a Bronx, New York personal injury attorney with over 35 years of experience.