Medico-Legal Translation for Workers’ Compensation at U.S. Overseas Military Bases

Medico-Legal Translations under Defense Base Act (DBA)

We’ve blogged about the importance of medicolegal translation services for personal injury cases, medico-legal interpreter services for workers’ compensation cases and the need for professional translation of medical informed consent forms (ICFs).  Do you work overseas at a U.S. military base? Do you own a company that contracts with the federal government to provide civilian services to U.S. military servicemen overseas? If your answer is yes to either question, then you need to know about a law called the Defense Base Act.

The Defense Base Act is a workers’ compensation program that provides coverage for civilian employees who are injured while working overseas at U.S. military bases, and in related circumstances. Therefore, if you are one of those civilian employees, or if you employ workers at military bases around the world, you should become familiar with the Defense Base Act.

This article will cover the most frequently asked questions about the Defense Base Act. And one thing that is important to remember in the implementation of the Defense Base Act is the fact that lots of information related to a work injury might be in the language of the country where the defense base is located, and not English. So, with any Defense Base Act claim, you need to be sure that you have professional medical translation services on the ready to help you, or your employees. That is where we come in. For more information about obtaining professional legal translation services, we welcome you to call All Language Alliance, Inc. at 303-470-9555. You can also email us from our website at

1. What is the Defense Base Act?

The Defense Base Act is a Federal workers’ compensation statute that provides wage loss and medical benefits to civilian contractors who are injured overseas while working for the Department of Defense or the Department of State. Also, in certain circumstances, the Defense Base Act covers employees who are injured stateside while training or preparing to go overseas.

2. Who is Covered by the Defense Base Act?

The Defense Base Act covers civilian contractors working overseas supporting the U.S. military, from food service workers to security forces. It also covers individuals working at public works, construction, or repairs in United States territories or other countries abroad. Finally, it covers individuals working for humanitarian relief such as the Peace Corps, or recovery efforts such as the hurricane recovery effort in Puerto Rico.

3. What Parts of the World Are Covered by the Defense Base Act?

The Defense Base Act is a worldwide statute. If you are an employee who is working for an employer with a contract with the Department of State or the Department of Defense, then you are entitled to those workers’ compensation benefits under the Defense Base Act. We commonly see the Defense Base Act coverage for employees injured in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar, Africa, South America, in some cases, even Antarctica.

4. What Benefits Are Provided under the Defense Base Act?

Under the Defense Base Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, several benefits are available, including lost wages, medical benefits, death benefits and in certain cases vocational rehabilitation benefits.

5. How Do You File a Defense Base Act Claim?

To file a Defense Base Act claim, you must first file what’s called an LS-203 “claim for compensation.” You have to give details of your injury, and you file those details with the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, which is a part of the United States Department of Labor.

Defense Base Act claims are initially filed in the New York Department of Labor office. Then, they are reassigned to the district office near your (the injured employee’s) residence. A claims examiner gets assigned, and he or she determines whether there are any disputes in the claim. The examiner will step in to hold an informal conference in the event of any disputes.

6. How Do You Get Medical Treatment?

The Defense Base Act requires an employer or insurance company to provide medical treatment to an injured individual who is injured on the job. However, that very rarely happens. In the event of injury, an injured individual should notify the employer and request medical treatment. If the treatment is not provided, you can contact the Department of Labor to get assistance in seeking medical treatment.

7. How Do You Get Compensation?

In order to obtain compensation under the Defense Base Act, you first must be injured, and then your physician of choice has to place restrictions on you that the employer cannot accommodate. Once you have missed a certain amount of days due to the injury, the insurance company or the employer should initiate compensation benefits to you.

8. Why Do You Need a Reliable Medical Translator to Help You with a Claim?

With a Defense Base Act claim, you likely have at least some information in a language other than English. That includes documentation related to your initial doctor’s visit, and any forms that you fill out.

If you (or your injured employee) are native to the country where the military base is located, then the claim will most likely be completed in a language other than English. Again, a professional legal translator is vital in those circumstances. Professional translators understand how to translate complex legal or factual narratives, and detailed medical documentation.

For more information about professional medical translation services, we welcome you to email your foreign language document written in Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, Farsi, German, French, Chinese, Thai, Spanish, Amharic, Mongolian, Bosnian, Polish, Japanese, Turkish, Bulgarian, and any other language for an estimate.  Contact our translation service to discuss retaining an in-person medical interpreter services or remote medical interpreter services via Zoom for workers’ compensation cases in any foreign language, including Arabic, Russian, Burmese, Spanish, Farsi, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Nepali, Anuak, Amharic.

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