Who is Garfinkel Schwartz?
Garfinkel Schwartz, P.A., answers frequently asked questions from clients. Since 1976 Garfinkel Schwartz has been a Defense Base Act Law and a Longshore Act Law firm that also handles Non-Appropriated Funds Act cases.
Garfinkel Schwartz is named in memoriam for deceased Florida Longshore and DBA attorney John M. Schwartz who practiced law for 40 years in Titusville, Florida. The firm is also named for owner and attorney Alan Bennett Garfinkel.
Can you Represent Clients Anywhere?
Yes, Garfinkel Schwartz can represent clients anywhere. Garfinkel Schwartz is located in Cocoa Beach, Florida, and in Maitland, Florida, but DBA law and Longshore law is federal so we represent clients from across the United States and around the world.
We have clients from six continents including North America, Asia, Africa, Australia, South America, and Europe. We haven’t met anyone from Antarctica–yet–but we look forward to it.
We’re a family-focused firm and we know the horrible things that you’ve been through. We admire our clients because they’re fearless American, European, Asian, African, South American and Central American heroes.
Our U.S. Longshoremen are responsible for bringing most of the U.S. goods and products to our shores. And whether you’re on a dock, a ship, working in a port, our hats are off to you. You work hard and when you’re hurt, or you get sick, you’re covered by the longshore laws.
How Much Experience Do You Have?
We represent people who have been denied medical care, medical benefits and compensation after getting sick or injured while working on U.S. waterways as a Longshoreman or overseas in a war zone as a federal employee, a civilian contractor working for a defense contractor, or on a U.S. military base.
Yes, Garfinkel Schwartz is a Florida-based law firm, but this are federal law. So we go where our clients may be located anywhere in the country, or anywhere in the world. You may call our 800-393-2999 phone number 24 hours a day. And either Brian Wiklendt or Doreen Cabral, will talk to you ASAP.
Who Do We Help?
Garfinkel Schwartz helps civilian contractors,longshoremen, third country nationals, sub-contractors, federal employees, employees of U.S. military bases located anywhere in the world.
We help longshoremen who became ill or injured working on U.S. waters, ports around the U.S., on ships, docks. We help federal contractors, civilian contractors and sub-contractors of the U.S. Department of Defense or a U.S. government-owned installation or employees working on a U.S. Military base any in the world.
Together we make plans and find out what will do everything in our power to get you the medical care, the compensation, the settlement you need to take care of yourself. We’ll review your case and find out what’s happened to you. It gets started as soon as you complete the new client package that we overnight to you. You sign and fill out papers and send them back. We start asking you what happened and what you’ll need to take care of yourself for the remainder of your injury, your illness.
Whether that’s a few months or you’re unfortunately permanently injured or sick, we promise, we will do everything we can to get you cared for and compensated. We know these laws because it’s all we do and we know what happens from start to finish of every case. We’ll keep you informed and while it may seem like it’s slow, there is progress. When your case is settled, you will be the very first to know.
Do You Pay Legal Fees?
At no point — ever — do you pay legal fees under the Longshore Act or under the Defense Base Act. You don’t need money to begin a case and never give an attorney money for a DBA or a Longshore case.
Your legal fees are paid in full by the U.S. Department of Labor. Legal fees are scrutinized line by line and Garfinkel Schwartz has to adhere to very stringent laws. You don’t pay a penny because the laws require that your legal fees are paid. In 1927 when the Longshore Act was created, it b
How Can You Help Your Case?
- Keep a file of all of your medical care
- Take pictures, keep videos, notes, names, dates
- Keep everything employers send you
- Keep all your insurance paperwork
- Ask a lot of questions and call us anytime
- We take clients around the world
- We have translators
- We visit you in-person wherever you want
- We have video conferences to see you as we talk
- We take calls 24 hours a day and return calls promptly
- Yes, you may change attorneys this is very common
- Have faith, help is out there
We Fly to You
We help you to find doctors and medical care and resources that are specialists of your choice. We will pay for your medical evaluations at the doctor of your choice.
In this area of the law, we work long distance to build the case and will do all we possibly can to help obtain or regain your medical care and compensation. We will be with you from the very beginning to the end of the case.
What is the Defense Base Act?
The Defense Base Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act are Federal laws. Because it’s federal, our location in Florida is irrelevant. We travel to our clients.
You may have been injured overseas, or on a dock in a port. The DBA and the Longshore Act are handled in Federal courts. Clients are represented by Federal lawyers.
The Defense Base Act is a far-reaching mandate that covers and protects medical care rights and compensation to injured employees who work overseas for defense contractors.
If you have been injured while working overseas for a defense contractor, or hurt while working the ports/docks/coasts on U.S. waters as a longshoreman, you should call us to begin telling us what happened to you.
What is the Longshore Act?
The Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act assures medical care, benefits and compensation to employees injured on U.S. docks, ports, shores, coasts, while working jobs located on federal bodies of water that are not on land and covered in a U.S. state.
What is the Non-Appropriated Funds Act?
The Non-Appropriated Funds Act covers injured workers who are civilians hired to work on military bases, work for military staff, work with the military but who are not military personnel.
Are You Receiving All Your Benefits?
No.1: You have the right to seek medical care from the doctor of your choosing which is not the case in other areas of law. This is the strongest advantage you have under this law—you are allowed to choose your doctor.
No.2: You receive weekly compensation benefits which are lost wages and future money benefits–while you can show your doctor that you are disabled and injured and that you can’t work.
That does not include the recovery of lost wages as in a personal injury claim. There is a computation under these laws in terms of what your weekly wage is going to be. To break it down, it is two thirds of your weekly wage. It’s what you get compensated for. And there’s a maximum amount to it. A lot of people overseas are at their maximum. It’s these kinds of details and differences that people need to be made aware of by their lawyer.
Your selection of the most experienced lawyer in this practice area is very important.
If I don’t live in Florida can you be my lawyer?
Yes, and we will travel to meet with you. Garfinkel Schwartz is a longshore act and Defense Base Act law firm located in Maitland, Florida, and Cocoa Beach, Florida. This is how we do business because clients are located all over the country and they’re not feeling well, are often recovering from an illness or an injury. We are happy to hop on a plane to get to where you are.
How Can Garfinkel Schwartz Help You?
- Worldwide client representation—we come to you where you are
- Never a legal charge to you—we take all the risk
- We advance the costs for initial medical evaluations
- We fight for medical treatment and lost wages and future money benefits
- Schedule informal conferences
- Attend depositions and mediations live
- We attend vocational evaluations
- We litigate formal hearings
- We help provide the right, the best doctors
How Much Money Can I Get if I’m Covered by the Defense Base Act?
There is a formulance in the federal law that tells you how much they’re supposed to pay if you are one of these injured DBA contractors you were injured overseas. If you’ve been working for any particular company that has a government contract the insurance company has to pay for all your lost wages and future money benefits benefits which means your lost wages during the time that you’re injured.
Is There a Percent That the Lawyers Get From My DBA Case?
If a settlement is reached and the parties come to some sort of agreement, the U.S. Department of Labor has to approve that settlement to make sure that it’s fair.
The Department of Labor also determines what a fair market rate might be in terms of our legal services to you as your attorney. Again, you never pay attorney fees.
The insurance company or your employer ends up paying the attorney separately and if those entities can’t agree to an amount of attorney fees and costs, then it goes to an administrate law judge where there is a fee hearing. The U.S. Department of Labor has to approve costs and decide the reasonable costs and fees.
The Defense Base Act and the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act don’t allow lawyers to take a contingency fee–a fee that is paid an attorney based on what is awarded. This is a unique aspect specific to this area of law.
Benefits Maintain Health, Living Costs
When we’re fighting for your benefits, this is not the type of case where you are going to get a windfall amount. This fight is simply to enable you to keep living comfortably while you are injured and you can’t work anymore.
With that in mind they don’t allow lawyers to take a percentage if what your benefits are–especially in term of getting medical benefits. There is no way to qualify that necessarily in an hourly rate from you because basically the law states that if Garfinkel Schwartz gets any benefit for you, that the insurance company is going pay for all our reasonable costs and fees.
They are completely separate issue as to what your benefits are. We cannot, we can’t by law charge you a percentage. This means that you will never have to pay Garfinkel Schwartz anything, ever.
How Much Money Do Lawyers Get for Working My Case?
The amount of money an attorney will receive in any case is decided by the judge and is not dependent or taking away from any part of your settlement from the DBA case or Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act.
Legal fees are determined separately, completely independent of and not related to medical benefits or financial compensation awarded any client.
For example, the medical care that a client receives enables you to maintain your care while you are injured and you can’t work anymore.
The Defense Base Act does not allow lawyers to take a percentage of clients’ benefits or medical care. Lawyers are paid a fee based on where service was performed for that timeframe, only. Lawyers are never paid from or based upon any amount or benefit—medical or financial—that a client receives.
Clients Do Not Pay Any Legal Fees
If we (Garfinkel Schwartz) get medical benefits for you, the insurance company is going to pay for all our reasonable costs and fees. Period. These are completely separate payment issues from clients.
As to what your benefits are, there is no percentage to lawyers based on your benefits and we cannot and will not by law charge you a percentage.
You will never, ever pay us for any legal costs. This is stated within the DBA law and Longshore Compensation Act.
If we do get you medical care, medical benefits, or a settlement, then we submit what’s called a petition to the court. This includes the hours of work spent to get clients their benefits. The attorney hourly rate varies around the country but it is all submitted and paid for by the insurance company. Not by the client. Never by the client.
What can I do to get medical care while I’m waiting for my DBA case?
Garfinkel Schwartz will advance the costs for initial medical evaluations. We immediately begin work on your behalf to get you the very best medical care from the best doctors no matter where they are. You may have to apply for assistance in your state while your case is being settled.
We will try to help direct you to resources. Don’t wait. If you need medical help, call the HealthCare.gov hotline and tell them what’s happening. Everyone has a right to healthcare so don’t go without. And if you can’t afford it, there are programs. We will work to help you towards the right resources.
Is Anyone Covered by DBA if They Served Overseas?
You are covered by the defense base act if you are an overseas civilian contractor and you’re working for company that has a contract with the U.S. government in a war zone in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan.
If you are injured while working for a defense contractor you have rights under U.S. Federal law. You don’t have to apply for the insurance it’s given to you by your employer.
However, many people do not know that they are covered and they do not understand their rights under the law. That’s OK because Garfinkel Schwartz will help explain the laws to you. The laws are complicated and it’s very easy to get confused.
The most important thing to know is that if you’ve lost compensation and medical care, you need to speak with a skilled attorney who knows and works in this very specific area of the law.
The U.S. Department of Labor is here to help, as well. The Department of Labor helps to administer the law and is actually in charge of paying for the administrative law judges that will preside over your case. This means that the Department of Labor is the neutral party.
Under this law, the U.S. Department of Labor is supposed to facilitate the law so that it’s covering and executed to protect everyone. The U.S. created the law and the U.S. Department of Labor helps to enforce it. The U.S. Department of Labor will help to determine what’s fair and not fair under the DBA and the Longshore Act.
Why do I need an attorney if I’m getting a check?
To be brutally honest, if you don’t have an attorney in this area of law, there is pretty much an incredible chance that the
insurance company is going to find some way to not pay you what your fair amount due you is.
It’s only a matter of time before the insurance company cuts you off or cuts your check in half or denies a medical care claim.
Insurers Undervalue Claims
Whether it’s undervaluing the claims in terms of settlement or whether it’s underpaying you your average weekly wage, the insurance companies have different ways of calculating what they feel you should get and you won’t be told; you’ll just get a shorted check.
You may have been bullied into using their doctors or their nurse’s aides who very likely will say that you’re healthy and can go back to work right away—regardless of what you feel or think. Without legal representation, they can try to force you to go back to work.
Get a Lawyer to Fight Your Insurance Company
Defense Base Act Lawyer Brian Wiklendt has fought insurance companies after working for them. Brian doesn’t like the way they do business or the way they try to dishonor people who have fought as heroes for our country overseas. Or worked on U.S. waters, ships, docks and ports.
Having a lawyer will stop the insurance companies from actually going that route of trying to force you to do things that are not in your best interest. A lawyer can tell you about all those pressures, those obvious ways that they’re going to try to save money on people by denying their claims.
As soon as insurers see our name—the Garfinkel Schwartz law firm name–they will know that there are consequences to what they are trying to do. Whereas if you went about it yourself, they would assume that you don’t know anything about what they are doing to you. They would have a very large advantage over your claims and they’d take that advantage of you every time.
Just the simple act of having the Garfinkel Schwartz letterhead on your first letter to the adjuster of the insurance company basically will discourage them from doing the wrong thing each and every step of the way.
How Long Does a Case Last?
There is no way to put a timeline on a Defense Base Act or a Longshore Act case. Garfinkel Schwartz client cases may be settled after a mediation, after a trial or after an unknown and unpredictable amount of time. Why can’t we tell you? Because every single case is so very different.
From our side, everyone on the team works non-stop to resolve issues. Clients are assured of confidential, thorough and carefully compiled paperwork and you’ll talk or text or e-mail us and you WILL get a response quickly from our team.
However, it is important to understand that a case will not be settled until your medical claim ends. Medical care can continue for as long as 20 years. A judge will not settle the case until your medical issues are resolved or until your care is determined to be over.
Do not let this disturb you! During the entire time that you are provided medical care, you’re assured of the access to the doctors and to the treatment that you deserve. The compensation during that period where you’re receiving medical care is paid, without pause. You are taken care of, you are cared for and you are only a phone call away from answers from Garfinkel Schwartz when you become our client.
The most important aspect is for all clients to receive every medical benefit and aspect of care needed to heal, to be comfortable and to allow you to live your life to the fullest.
Is there anything I can do to get medical care while I’m waiting for my DBA case?
Garfinkel Schwartz will advance the costs for initial medical evaluations. We immediately begin work on your behalf to get you the very best medical care from the best doctors no matter where they are.
One of the things that is different about Garfinkel Schwartz is the fact that we will help you find the resources you need. We know that you are not only in pain and uncomfortable, possibly hospitalized, traumatized. So if your medical care is cutoff, where do you go for help?
You’ll have to find resources in the city you live in, the state and that’s where our legal assistant and medical researcher Bennett Garfinkel comes in. Bennett will research the doctors to go to for medical evaluation. He’ll find resources that you may be able to tap for help.
Families struggle when a loved one is injured overseas. We understand this and will do all we can to help you with the social services that are out there for emergencies.
Is There a Chance I Won’t Get Anything?
Yes, possibly, but in these particular types of cases there is a special provision in the federal law that says that because this is an injury type of situation and a stopgap measure that you are not going to get your full lost wages: you’re going to get a percentage of them.
Who Pays the Defense Base Act or Longshore Compensation Benefits?
The company who employed you, your employer pays you through their insurance company in order to pay for your medical treatment. There is actually no risk whatsoever to you to get an attorney. That’s the value of this federal law. That’s part of what your protection is under the law: that you will not have to pay for an attorney because insurance companies are wrongfully not paying you or not providing medical benefits for you.