What is a Non-Scheduled Injury?
A question asked of Defense Base attorney Brian Wiklendt frequently is what is a non-scheduled injury? There’s not a clear beginning or an end to the non-scheduled injury. Pain and associated problems, medical care and ongoing health issues and treatments are indefinite.
Brian recommends that you Know Before You Go overseas what you can do to ensure your medical care immediately. Talk to a DBA lawyer to get the lay of the land and have an attorney lined up to assure your care. It’s free because legal costs are covered under the DBA law.
Brian is lead counsel with Garfinkel Schwartz, a Florida-based federal law firm practice that since 1976 has represented civilian contractor and longshore clients around the world. Non-scheduled injuries suffered by civilian contractor clients are common. Whether you live in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Maine, California or anywhere else in the U.S., you should have a DBA lawyer lined up for whatever may happen working in a combat zone.
Types of Non-Scheduled Injuries
If you have received an injury to the head, or like conditions associated with the brain, such as post traumatic stress disorder and or traumatic brain injury, or damage to the neck, shoulder or spine, that injury would be considered “non-scheduled.” The damage may be permanent and may need lifelong medical care, compensation and has no clearly defined treatment, recovery time.
A non-scheduled injury is subject to different and usually larger payment awards. Generally speaking, non-scheduled injuries are more serious and often are permanent.
Non-Scheduled Injuries Common in Conflict Zones
The sad truth is that many of the injuries sustained in conflict zones are non-scheduled. For example, a study published in The Journal of Surgical Orthopedic Advances in the fall of 2014 looked at 450 U.S. soldiers who were discharged for medical reasons. Fourteen percent of them had at least one spinal-cord injury. Ten of those soldiers had “complete” spinal-cord injuries, meaning there was total loss of sensation and paralysis below the level of the injury, and 20% also had a psychological condition that made the ability to work even more difficult.
Unfortunately, these types of non-scheduled injuries happen to contractors but without the aid or support provided by the Veterans Administration for follow-up care as with military injuries. Instead, after an injury, each contractor is forced to rely on the insurance company representative who shows up at the hospital when the injury occurs.
What’s Your Plan?
While a contractor may call the family for help when injured and to let them know what’s happened, he or she may be seriously injured and have to get medical care without a representative from the family to help ensure the very best care.
The best care is what’s provided under the Defense Base Act. So choose an attorney before you go to be the point person to direct the specific medical wishes that you want with the proper forms taken overseas on every job.
Talk to a DBA Attorney
Talk to and engage any DBA attorney before you go just in case as a backup to all your carefully planned backup plans. There will be a chain of communication and process in place so that your rights, your medical are respected.
Civilian contractors who are injured on the job are eligible for medical treatment, disability benefits, vocational rehabilitation and death benefits for surviving spouses and children. But they often have to fight with insurers to get the benefits they are due.
Disability in Economic Terms
A disability in economic terms is defined as having an inability to earn the same amount of wages as before an injury. The condition may be such that you either cannot return to employment at all or your ability to return to full-time work or the same job as before has been diminished. Disability payments can be up to two-thirds of what someone’s prior weekly wage was before the injury, for life.
The sometimes lengthy process of categorizing disabilities and determining whether and the extent to which injured contractors can return to work, are good reasons why they need experienced attorneys like Brian Wiklendt who know Defense Base Act law.
It’s important to know what your rights are under the law and to work with people who will protect your interests. Finding an attorney before you go overseas and if you get injured will help you make sure that you’re taken care if anything should happen.