Miranda Staino always knew that her husband had a dangerous job. “Michael used to work on an oil platform off the coast of Florida,” she said, a damp tissue clutched tightly in her left hand. “He never really talked about the potential for injury, but I knew that some of his co workers had been hurt before.” Miranda learned first hand just how dangerous it could be to work on an oil platform last November. A generator caught fire, which led to an explosion. The explosion threw her husband off the rig. By the time medical care had arrived, Michael was in a coma.
Michael has since regained consciousness, but the medical bills have piled up, and all money from his now former employer has stopped. “I did not understand it,” said Miranda. “He got hurt at work, so I assumed that he would be covered by workers compensation. The company kept telling us workers comp did not apply to our case.” Miranda became even more frustrated when their family attorney came up short. “I hated sending our attorney after the company, but we needed the money. In the end, it did not seem to matter. Our attorney could not get any better results than we did.”
Miranda had made a critical mistake. She entrusted her case to her long time family attorney. He was a good man and a better attorney, but he specialized in personal injury and corporate law. He was not a DBA attorney. Neither of his specialties prepared him for an off shore employment injury case. What Miranda needed to do, and what she eventually did do, was hire a team of DBA lawyers.
DBA lawyers specialize in cases dealing with the Defense Base Act of 1941. The act is an extension of of the LHWCA (Longshore and harbor workers compensation act) which was itself an extension of the Merchant Seaman Protection and Relief Act, a law passed in 1920 to provide protection similar to workers compensation to longshoremen and other marine workers. The LHWCA protected the half million workers who sustain injuries or occupational diseases while on the job in US waters. The newer Acts were needed because maritime claims are more common today, as oil platform workers, cargo ship employees, dock workers and a wide array of sea based workers have grown in number.
LHWCA benefits pay out directly from an authorized self insured employer, and provides not only workers compensation style benefits, but also death benefits, including reasonable funeral expenses (up to 3,000 dollars) and survivor benefits calculated from the weekly wages of the deceased worker. The Defense Base Act extended the benefits covered by the LHWCA to workers and contractors on defense bases overseas. As Miranda and her husband learned the hard way, however, you need Dba lawyers to make sure you receive the DBA benefits to which you are entitled.