1 Disclaimers N handbk can stand in fr the advice f a qualified attrney. This handbk serves nly general infrmatinal purpses, accrdingly. It is nt legal advice. N attrney-client relatinship is implied in any way by this handbk. Advertisement This handbk might cnstitute attrney advertising. Prir results d nt guarantee a similar utcme. Pht: Baghdad Suth Pwer Plant, USAID (2003) DEFENSE BASE ACT LABOR CLAIMAINTS HANDBOOK
2 page 2 Table f Cntents Table f Cntents... 2 Authr s Intrductin... 3 Cmmn Abbreviatins... 4 Backgrund... 5 Disability & Benefits... 6 Injury... 7 Cverage... 8 Legal Prcess... 9 Attrneys...11 FAQ...13 Glssary...15 Selected Surces...18 Abut the Authr...19 Abut Ziaja Grup LLP...19
3 page 3 Authr s Intrductin After serving as an attrney fr the United States Department f Labr ( DOL ), it became apparent t me that there was a need t supplement the legal educatinal materials made available t the general public. In fulfilling its duty t infrm the public, the DOL maintains a wealth f valuable and freely available infrmatin nline. It des an excellent jb f this. Fr many wrkers it can nnetheless be easy t lse the frest fr the trees. Having access t an immense bdy f infrmatin and understanding it are tw different things. There are als different types f understanding. Situatinal awareness is ne very imprtant type f understanding. Situatinal awareness is at the heart f educating peple t make smart decisins in cmplex circumstances. Experts in a wide range f fields emergency respnse, fr example frequently discuss the imprtance f being able t think quickly abut cntext. The key is t be aware f hw yu fit in with what s ging n arund yu. This is the basic idea behind situatinal awareness. This simple, plain-language handbk prvides an verview f the DBA. It s mre cncerned with mapping the frest than it is with describing every single tree. N handbk culd present everything there is t knw and understand abut the DBA while als remaining bradly readable. My gal in writing this handbk was t intrduce basic cncepts that may help wrkers t imprve their situatinal awareness regarding the DBA prcess. I became a lawyer in rder t wrk n slving the mst challenging public prblems. Given my time at the DOL, it was nly natural that I wrk n behalf f individual wrkers in need. I ve als wrked thrughut my career as an educatr, s it likewise seemed natural that I present the DBA with an educatr s mindset. Educatin can be empwering. I hpe that yu find this handbk useful, accrdingly. Sincerely, Andrew Ziaja, JD, MPA Partner, Ziaja Grup LLP Califrnia Bar #262283
4 page 4 Cmmn Abbreviatins ALJ AOE/COE AWW BRB DBA DOD DOL LHWCA MMI PTSD OALJ OWCP VA Administrative Law Judge Arising ut f Emplyment/Curse f Emplyment Average Weekly Wage Benefits Review Bard Defense Base Act Department f Defense Department f Labr Lngshre and Harbr Wrkers Cmpensatin Act Maximum Medical Imprvement Pst-Traumatic Stress Disrder Office f Administrative Law Judges Office f Wrkers Cmpensatin Prgrams Veterans Administratin
5 page 5 Backgrund Near the end f Wrld War II, it was evident that the VA system wuld nt cver each and every casualty. The military had cme t rely n private cntractrs t prvide critical supprt at its bases. Thugh the emplyees f these cntractrs were expsed t many f the war s hazards, they were nt military persnnel. They fell utside the VA system. They als fell utside state-based wrkers cmpensatin systems because they wrked abrad n federal gvernment prperty. In 1941 and 1942, Cngress reacted by enacting and then quickly amending the DBA in rder t fill this gap in cverage. The DBA essentially expanded the rle f the LHWCA, which is anther federal wrkers cmpensatin law that has prtected dckwrkers since Befre the LHWCA, dckwrkers fell thrugh the cracks f existing state-based wrkers cmpensatin systems because they wrked at the waters edge, where state wrkers cmpensatin law des nt reach. Since defense cntractrs fell int a similar legal grey area, Cngress fund it efficient t build n the tried-and-true LHWCA system. Mst f the LHWCA statute and the cases interpreting it therefre apply t DBA cases, as well. Over the years, cntractrs have played a grwing rle in US military peratins. In 2011, cntractrs made up mre than half the DOD s wrkfrce in Afghanistan and Iraq. There are upwards f 155,000 cntractrs in thse tw cuntries alne, with many thusands mre supprting peratins arund the glbe. Lcal natinals presently make up the largest prtin f the cntractr wrkfrce, accunting fr abut half f all wrkers in US citizens and third cuntry natinals, meanwhile, accunted fr rughly ne quarter f the cntractr wrkfrce in that same year. The trend is tward increasing shares f US citizens and third cuntry natinals. As fr their duties, the vast majrity f defense cntractrs wrk as base supprt, with security persnnel and translatrs making up the next tw largest jb categries. Cntractrs nnetheless wrk in a much brader range f capacities than just this wuld suggest. Defense cntractrs have brn the csts f cnflict, ding imprtant wrk far frm hme, at risk t themselves and t their families. The DBA recgnizes this. Defense cntractrs have brn the csts f cnflict much like veterans, thugh they supprt military peratins in ften greater annymity. They d imprtant wrk far frm hme, at risk t themselves and t their families. They face the hazards f the frntline. They experience stresses t which few thers can relate. The DBA recgnizes this by prviding a right t cmpensatin when cntractrs suffer diminished earning capacity r medical cmplicatins due t the dangers f their wrk.
6 page 6 Disability & Benefits The DBA prvides benefits accrding t whether a wrker has suffered impairment that is permanent versus temprary, as well as ttal versus partial. These tw sets f factrs cmbine t prduce an assessment f the severity f the disability. The mre severe the disability, the greater the benefits. Prvisins exist under the DBA fr bth wage replacement and medical csts. Ttal disability receives the greatest wage-replacement benefit pssible at tw-thirds f the wrker s pre-disability AWW. Still, n matter hw much a wrker earned befre suffering disability, wage replacement benefits can be n mre than twice and n less than half the natinal AWW. Every Octber, OWCP releases data n the natinal AWW and sets cmpensatin guidelines fr the fllwing year. Fr , OWCP fund the natinal AWW t be $ The current maximum wage replacement rate is $1, per week. The minimum is $ Disability at a Glance Severity Permanent Temprary Ttal Partial Permanent Ttal Disability ( PTD ) Permanent Partial Disability ( PPD ) Temprary Ttal Disability ( TTD ) Temprary Partial Disability ( TPD ) PTD and TTD wrk similarly, with tw majr exceptins. PTD benefits cntinue fr the life f the wrker and include inflatin adjustments. TTD benefits, meanwhile, cntinue nly fr the duratin f the wrker s disability and d nt include inflatin adjustments. Calculating partial disability benefits generally begins with the same basis: tw-thirds the wrker s predisability AWW, subject t OWCP s maximum and minimum rates. Partial disability benefits are reduced, hwever, by the wrker s remaining earning capacity. This is dne by determining whether there is emplyment available n the market that suits the wrker s medical restrictins, then subtracting the wages frm that emplyment frm the wrkers wage replacement benefits rate. Bth TPD and PPD generally invlve this methd. Wage Replacement at a Glance Benefits Zne: 66.67% f Pre-Disability AWW Pre-Disability AWW OWCP Minimum: $323.80/Week OWCP Maximum: $1,295.20/Week Wage replacement benefits are usually calculated n a case-by-case basis using the default methd discussed abve. There are still ther frms f PPD that fllw a different methd. These result frm what are called
7 page 7 scheduled injuries. This name derives frm the precise table r schedule under the DBA that prescribes the benefits that crrespnd t these injuries. The DBA schedule fr certain injuries reflects a cmprmise at the heart f the law. Cngress did nt want wrkers t face drawn-ut litigatin in bvius cases. At the same time, Cngress wanted t leave emplyers able t manage their liability and insurance csts. The resulting cmprmise balances lwer prcedural hurdles fr wrkers with limitatins n the lengths f time during which emplyers must pay wage replacement benefits. This means that wage replacement benefits fr sme injuries Scheduled Injuries at a Glance may nt last as lng as des the actual lss f physical capacity. Arm lst 312 Weeks Great Te Lst 38 Weeks Injuries resulting in death are anther special case under the DBA. Death Leg lst 288 Weeks Secnd Finger Lst 30 Weeks benefits include reasnable funeral Hand Lst 244 Weeks Third Finger Lst 25 Weeks expenses up t $3,000. Survivrs als receive benefits based n the wrker s Ft Lst 205 Weeks Te Other Than Great Te Lst 16 Weeks AWW, thugh precisely hw these Eye Lst 160 Weeks Furth Finger Lst 15 Weeks benefits are divided depends n family make-up. When a male wrker leaves behind a widw, 50% f the wrker s AWW ges t her. When a female wrker leaves behind a widwer, he is als Thumb Lst First Finger Lst 75 Weeks 46 Weeks Lst f Hearing (One Ear) Lss f Hearing (Bth Ears) 52 Weeks 200 Weeks entitled t 50% f her AWW, but nly if he was financially dependent n her. Widws r widwers wh later remarry receive a lump sum equal t tw years f benefits upn remarrying, but therwise lse their entitlements. Each surviving child generally receives 16.67% f the deceased wrker s AWW, thugh children can receive mre than this in sme circumstances. As family histries becme mre cmplicated, s t d the calculatins. N matter the frm f disability, the DBA requires that emplyers pay the injured wrkers reasnable and necessary medical expenses. Wrkers have the right under the DBA t select their wn treating physicians. Emplyers have the right, thugh, t suspend wage replacement benefits f wrkers wh refuse t submit t reasnable medical examinatins r treatments. The DBA mrever places many time-sensitive bligatins n wrkers and their dctrs. Claimants wh fail t fulfill these bligatins risk lsing their rights t medical benefits. Injury The cncept f an injury might seem self-explanatry. The DBA in fact relies n a definitin that lks circular at first: The term injury means accidental injury r death.... There is mre t it under the DBA than just this, hwever.
8 page 8 Case law has develped a brad definitin. A wrker is injured as sn as smething ges wrng with the bdy r mind. The hallmark f an injury is ften sme definite and bservable physical change cmbined with pain, thugh it can be mre subtle than this. An injury can develp slwly, such that sme wrkers might nt becme aware f a prblem until its cumulative effects have grwn significant enugh. This can include ccupatinal diseases, such as cancer. An injury can als be psychlgical. Mre and mre DBA cases have invlved PTSD r ther related injuries. They may require different types f prf, but the law des nt distinguish between physical and psychlgical injuries in terms f benefits. It is furthermre imprtant t understand the relatinship between injury and disability. The DBA prvides benefits fr disabilities that cme frm wrkplace injuries, nt fr the injuries themselves. A wrker is nt disabled simply fr having suffered an injury. It can be helpful t think abut disability as the ecnmic cnsequence f injury. Injury causes disability, s lng as the injury impairs a wrker s ability earn a living. Wrkers therefre need t shw that they suffered bth injury and ecnmic impairment as a result f the injury in rder t recver disability benefits under the DBA. A wrker s injury finally must relate t his/her emplyment in tw ways. The technical requirements are that the injury needs t arise ut f and in the curse f emplyment. T arise ut f emplyment means that an injury ccurs during and at wrk. T be in the curse f emplyment means that the injury ccurs while engaged in wrk-related activities. In ther wrds, a wrker s cnduct must fall within his/her jb descriptin t have been in the curse f emplyment. Cverage Only certain frms f emplyment are cvered by the DBA. Nt every injured wrker in every jb is entitled t DBA benefits. Wrkers may be eligible fr benefits nly if they fall int at least ne f fur categries: Emplyees f private emplyers wrking n US military bases r lands utside the cntinental United States; Emplyees f public wrks cntractrs r subcntractrs fr any US gvernment agency prjects utside the cntinental United States; Emplyees f cntractrs r subcntractrs perfrming cntracts utside the cntinental United States under the Freign Assistance Act; Emplyees f US scial welfare prviders, such as the USO, serving the US military utside the cntinental United States. In additin t these fur mainline categries, there are sme special cases in which cverage has been extended, usually by treaty with a freign gvernment. A wrker s natinality, thugh, is nt a factr. A wrker need nt be a United States citizen in rder t receive benefits.
9 page 9 Sme injuries invlving specific circumstances are excluded frm cverage. The mst cmmn examples are injuries caused by a wrker s wn misbehavir. Intxicatin and willfully intending t cause injury can disqualify a wrker frm cverage. Suicide is mre cmplicated. Suicide can disqualify a wrker and his/her survivrs as a frm f willfully intending t cause harm. When suicide results frm a wrk-related psychlgical injury, hwever, the wrker and his/her survivrs remain cvered. In such cases, the DBA fcuses n the psychlgical injury fr purpses f cverage, while treating the suicide as a cnsequence f that injury. Legal Prcess A DBA case begins the mment the emplyer and DOL receive timely ntificatin f a cvered injury. Wrkers must first ntify their emplyers within 30 days fr injuries, r within ne year fr ccupatinal diseases. This first ntificatin allws emplyers t begin t fulfill their bligatins under the DBA, while hlding pen the pssibility fr wrkers t file their claims with the DOL. Wrkers als have ne year during which t file their claims with the DOL. The clck begins t run as sn as a wrker becmes aware, r shuld have becme aware, f a relatinship between his/her injuries and wrk activities. This is true bth fr first ntificatin and fr filing claims. An imprtant exceptin t this rule arises when an emplyer vluntarily pays benefits t a wrker and then stps. The wrker has a year frm the terminatin f vluntary benefits t file his/her claim. This is t prevent an emplyer frm running ut the clck n a wrker s ne-year windw within which t file a claim. Initial Legal Deadlines at a Glance Awareness f Occupatinal Injury/Disease r Terminatin f Vluntary Benefits Step 1 Ntificatin f Injury: 30 Days Ntificatin f Occupatinal Disease: 1 Year Filing f DOL Claim: 1 Year Step 2 Many wrkers are able t reslve their claims infrmally, withut taking the secnd step f filing a DOL claim. This is pssible when the natures f the injury, disability, and entitlement t cmpensatin are bvius t all parties and nt subject t dispute. In such cases, an emplyer and/r its insurer will ffer t prvide benefits vluntarily t a wrker. In many ther cases, the situatin is less straightfrward. Wrkers and their emplyers/insurers might dispute the extent f disability, r whether a cvered injury even ccurred at all. Disputes might als arise ver entitlement t survivr benefits, the timeliness f ntificatin, r any number f issues.
10 page 10 DBA disputes fall int ne f tw categries, generally. First are disputes ver factual issues. An example f a factual issue wuld be whether a wrker suffered an injury during wrk hurs. Factual questins ask: What happened? Secnd are disputes ver legal issues. An example f a legal issue wuld be whether a permanently damaged bne is a scheduled injury. The schedule says arm lst, but des that mean it needs t be cmpletely severed? Legal questins ask: What is the law; what des it mean? Factual issues and legal issues ften mix tgether. An example f a mixed issue wuld be whether a wrker suffered injury in the curse f emplyment under the DBA. The factual side f the questin wuld ask, what was the wrker ding at the time? The legal side f the questin wuld ask, did that activity fit clsely enugh within the scpe f the wrker s duties? When there is a dispute, the first step is fr a wrker t file a claim. OWCP then takes the case, with the gal f facilitating an infrmal reslutin between the parties. OWCP als has sme frmal authrity at this phase in the prcess ver settlement agreements and benefits awards. Factual questins ask: What happened? Legal questins ask: What is the law; what des it mean? Factual and legal questins can als mix tgether. If the parties cannt reach a reslutin at the OWCP level, then the next step is referral t OALJ. The prcess becmes mre frmal at the OALJ level. OALJ is similar t a trial curt. The parties may cnduct discvery, meaning a frmal prcess f gathering and exchanging infrmatin. Once the parties have prepared their evidence, OALJ hlds a hearing t allw fr the examinatin f witnesses. The parties als draft briefs, bth befre and after the hearing, in rder t present their understandings f the case. A majr difference between OALJ and an rdinary trial curt is that there are n jurrs. In an rdinary trial curt, jurrs make decisins abut factual questins, whereas judges make decisins abut legal questins. The ALJs f the OALJ, by cntrast, make decisins abut bth factual and legal questins. This allws OALJ prceedings t mve mre quickly and flexibly than mst. Special prcedural rules als help in this regard. After the hearing and final briefs have been submitted, the presiding ALJ takes everything int cnsideratin and prduces a decisin. Final OALJ decisins generally cme alng with lengthy explanatins. This is because the law requires that ALJs dcument and supprt bth their findings f fact and their cnclusins f law. Ding s helps t hld ALJs accuntable fr their decisins, while als setting the stage fr the appeals prcess. DBA appeals differ slightly, thugh nly slightly, frm appeals in ther types f litigatin. The majr difference is that the first step is t appeal t the BRB. The BRB is an agency within the DOL whse purpse is t review OALJ decisins. The five members f the BRB reach their decisins by majrity vte. Once the BRB has cmpleted its review, the remainder f the appeals prcess is little different frm mst types f litigatin. The next steps are t appeal t ne f the federal curts f appeals, and then ultimately t the Supreme Curt f the United States. Either party may decide t advance an appeal at any stage in the prcess. Sme DBA cases als invlve what is knwn as an enfrcement actin. DBA enfrcement actins becme necessary nce a case has reslved, but the emplyer/insurer cntinues t refuse t pay the benefits t the
11 page 11 wrker that s/he is wed. Enfrcement actins are first brught in federal district curt nt OWCP r OALJ and prceed as rdinary litigatin. Legal Prcess at a Glance DOL Federal Curts OWCP: Infrmal Cnferences mainly via telephne Results in settlement r referral t OALJ OALJ: Frmal Trial Hearing near claimant s residence Results in settlement r pssibly final decisin BRB: Frmal Appeal Review f dcuments in Wash., DC Results in pssibly final decisin Curt f Appeal: Frmal Appeal Review f dcuments and hearing in circuit where claimant resides Results in pssibly final decisin Supreme Curt: Frmal Final appeal Review f dcuments and hearing in Wash., DC Results in final decisin Gegraphically, DBA cases unfld in lcatins that vary accrding t each phase in the prceedings. The law intentinally places as little a travel burden as pssible n claimants, nnetheless. Much f the wrk can be handled via telephne cnferences r via mail. When in-persn appearances are necessary, they usually ccur within a reasnable distance f the claimant s residence. Attrneys One aspect f the DBA that makes it claimant friendly is hw it treats attrneys fees. The default rule in mst types f litigatin is that parties each pay their wn attrneys fees. Attrneys fees fr plaintiffs are ften taken as a percentage f judgments in their favr. The drafters f the DBA wanted t ensure, hwever, that claimants receive the entirety f the benefits t which they are entitled. They als wanted t ensure that claimants wuld have access t quality legal cunsel. The DBA requires that emplyers/insurers pay fr claimants attrneys fees, as a result, but nly under certain cnditins. In rder t receive a fee, a claimant s attrney must secure fr his/her client smething mre than what the emplyer/insurer first ffered vluntarily. A claimant s attrney therwise cannt receive a fee, even ut f the claimant s wn pcket. It is wrth keeping in mind that the attrneys fee rule is nt a silver bullet. Claimants face many challenges in pursuing their cases. There can be ther csts, fr instance. The DBA nevertheless als addresses csts and prvides fr reimbursement in many cases.
12 page 12 Anther challenge can be finding and selecting the right attrney. Mst attrneys share cmmn characteristics, but n tw are identical. They cme frm varius backgrunds befre becming lawyers. They g t different law schls. There are als many types f legal wrk experience, each f which can prduce a distinctive utlk n the law. Lawyers can furthermre have different persnalities frm ne t the next. A claimant may wish t cnsider criteria such as these in seeking an attrney. In recent years, lawyer-rating websites have turned up n the Internet. Sme f these may prve useful, but thers can be misleading. It is imprtant t exercise cautin. There is n substitute, meanwhile, fr cmmunity reputatin and expert pinin in evaluating the quality f an attrney. Other trusted attrneys are ften the best surce f infrmatin since they knw what makes fr a gd lawyer.
13 page 13 FAQ Hw lng will my case take? Every case is different. At the ne end f the spectrum are cases that can be settled at the OWCP phase. These might nly last a few weeks r mnths. At the ther end f the spectrum are cases that g thrugh the full OALJ, BRB, and federal curts appeals prcess. These might last years. It s nt uncmmn fr the OALJ phase by itself t take a year r mre. Why des it take s lng? The length f a case depends n a variety f needs, like gathering cmplicated medical evidence, crdinating schedules, cnducting depsitins, attending medical appintments, preparing litigatin dcuments, and s n. ALJs must als rutinely review thusands f pages f dcumentatin in painstaking detail during the prcess f researching and writing their decisins. In DBA cases, wrkers and emplyers rights are bth at stake, s it s critical that the utcme be as well supprted as pssible. N, seriusly, my hearing lasted nly tw days. Why is it taking s lng? Litigating a DBA case is a lt like making a mvie in sme ways. T make a mvie, yu need t write a script, auditin and prepare actrs, sht the scenes, write and recrd a sundtrack, and then edit everything tgether. What the public sees is just a tw-hur mvie that tk much lnger than just tw hurs t make. A tw-day DBA hearing is similar t a tw-hur mvie in this respect. The hearing itself is like shting the scenes f a mvie. Everything still has t be edited tgether. Just like in making a mvie, that s when sme f the mst difficult wrk begins. I ve had my OALJ hearing. Hw lng until there s a decisin? OALJ decisins rutinely take several mnths t a year r mre frm the date f the hearing. This can be frustrating t claimants, but it s imprtant t remember that each ALJ has a large caselad with many equally demanding cases ging at the same time. Hw much can I recver? Wrkers wh are fund t be disabled due t their wrk can recver wage replacement benefits f between $ and $1, per week. Exactly hw much depends n their AWW and the nature f their disability. Only wrkers suffering PTD are entitled t inflatin-adjusted wage replacement benefits. All wrk-disabled wrkers may als recver reasnable and necessary medical benefits.
14 page 14 Hw much will I need t pay my attrney? Nthing. DBA attrneys may nly cllect fees when they achieve beneficial results fr their clients. Emplyers and their insurers are liable fr such fees. Litigatin csts are different frm attrneys fees, hwever. What abut litigatin csts? Litigatin csts are different frm attrneys fees. There are sme unavidable csts assciated with pursuing a DBA case. These arise primarily frm gathering necessary evidence. Depsitin transcripts, hearing transcripts, medical reprts, and expert witness fees are examples f the kinds f csts that ptential claimants shuld anticipate. Claimants shuld cmmunicate regularly with their attrneys abut these hw t handle these csts as their cases prgress. Hw d I chse an attrney? Persnal references and expert pinins are invaluable surces f infrmatin. Many bar assciatins maintain lists f attrneys. Internet searching is als an increasingly valuable tl. If pssible, claimants shuld try t interview many ptential candidates t help find a gd fit. Can t I represent myself? There are significant risks invlved in ding s, but claimants have every right t represent themselves. Hw much will I have t travel? Hpefully very little. Mst aspects f a DBA case can be handled remtely. OALJ hearings, mrever, must take place near t where the claimant resides. It s imprtant t keep in mind, thugh, that respndents ften try t cmpel wrkers t attend medical appintments far frm their hmes. It s pssible t fight against these effrts, but nt always. What des this guide leave ut? Unfrtunately, a lt. Mst imprtantly, it des nt discuss the srt f fine details that can decide individual utcmes. It prvides nly a general verview f the DBA.
15 page 15 Glssary Administrative Law Refers t a bdy f law dealing with the peratins f sme gvernment agencies, als knwn as administrative agencies. Examples include the Envirnmental Prtectin Agency, Internal Revenue Service, Federal Energy Regulatry Cmmissin, and OALJ. Administrative law usually refers t federal law, thugh it als exists at the state and glbal levels. Arising ut f Emplyment/ Curse f Emplyment T arise ut f emplyment means that an injury ccurs during and at wrk. T be in the curse f emplyment means that the injury ccurs while engaged in wrk-related activities. In ther wrds, a wrker s cnduct must fall within his/her jb descriptin t have been in the curse f emplyment. Benefits Review Bard An administrative appeals bard within the DOL. The BRB sits in Washingtn, DC. Its five members are appinted by the Secretary f Labr. Case Law As ppsed t law based n statutes r cnstitutins. Case law cmes frm the decisins f individual judges in the past. Case law is usually used t help clarify statutes r cnstitutinal prvisins that are nt clear. Claimant Smene wh brings a claim against anther party in an administrative prceeding. In DBA cases, this is the wrker. Curt f Appeals/Circuit Curt Curts f appeals and circuit curts are ne in the same in the federal system. The first name curt f appeals describes what they d. They cnsider appeals. The secnd name curt f appeals describes where they are. Each curt f appeals sits within a 12 reginal circuits. They are the last step befre ging t the Supreme Curt. Credibility Determinatin Whereas mst judges nly make decisins abut law, ALJs make decisins abut bth law and fact. One f their tasks in reslving questins f fact is t evaluate the credibility the believability f witness testimny. Credibility determinatins can als invlve the credibility f cnflicting dcumentary evidence.
16 page 16 Defense Base Act The DBA prvides benefits t the emplyees f gvernment cntractrs wrking abrad n military bases and certain ther prjects. It mainly extends cverage f the LHWCA, thugh als cntains sme f its wn unique prvisins. Discvery A frmal prcess f gathering and exchanging infrmatin that takes place in the early stages f litigatin. A frequently imprtant part f discvery is the taking f depsitins. Lngshre and Harbr Wrkers Cmpensatin Act The act frm which the DBA brrws. The LHWCA prvides the bedrck framewrk fr mst federal wrkers cmpensatin legislatin, since it was the first. It prvides cverage fr dckwrkers and ther wrkers at the waters edge wh fall utside f traditinal state-based wrkers cmpensatin systems. Lcal Natinals Cntractrs wh are citizens f the cuntries that hst US military peratins. Maximum Medical Imprvement MMI is the pint at which an injured wrker has recvered as much as is medically pssible. The cncept is imprtant in assessing the level f a wrker s disability. A wrker can nly be treated as permanently disabled nce s/he has been determined t have reached MMI. Office f Administrative Law Judges The ffice f ALJs within the DOL. OALJ acts similarly t a trial curt in reslving DBA disputes. Other federal agencies have OALJs, thugh the term refers nly t the DOL within the cntext f this handbk. OALJ becmes invlved in DBA cases when parties cannt reach settlement agreements at the OWCP level. Office f Wrkers Cmpensatin Prgrams OWCP is an ffice within the DOL that acts as the first, infrmal step in prcessing DBA disputes. When OWCP takes a case, its bjective is t versee the payment f benefits and/r t facilitate a settlement. If parties cannt reach settlement agreements at the OWCP level, cases can be referred t OALJ fr adjudicatin. Respndent A persn r crpratin against whm a claimant has brught a claim in an administrative prceeding. In DBA cases, this is the emplyer/insurer.
17 page 17 Supreme Curt The highest curt in the United States. States als have supreme curts, but the term refers nly t the United States Supreme Curt in this handbk. Third Cuntry Natinals Cntractrs wh are citizens f neither the United States nr the cuntry in which they wrk.
18 page 18 Selected Surces DBA Infrmatin (visited July 12, 2012), Defense Base Act, 42 USC (1941). Federal Curts (visited July 12, 2012), Health Benefits, Retirement Standards, and Wrkers Cmpensatin: Lngshre and Harbr Wrkers' Cmpensatin (updated September 2009), Lngshre and Harbrwrkers Cmpensatin Act, 33 USC (1927). NAWW Infrmatin (visited July 12, 2012), M Schwartz and J Swain, Department f Defense Cntractrs in Afghanistan and Iraq: Backgrund and Analysis (May 13, 2011),
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