DBA Attorney Newsletter – February 2014

DBA Attorney Barnett, Lerner & Karsen, P.A.
(954) 920-7400

The selection of a lawyer to represent you is a very important decision. Your goal should be to find a lawyer you are comfortable with as a person and as a professional. Normally, someone does not think of contacting an attorney until there is a need for one – you are buying a home, it is time for a will, or you have been hurt. Legal matters involve personal considerations and your lawyer often will need to know confidential information about you, your family, and your finances to effectively represent you. Once you think you may need a lawyer, you should begin your search as soon as possible; there may be time limits under certain laws that will prevent you from pursuing legal actions if you wait too long.

There are many resources available to find a lawyer for your needs. In the United States, lawyers are licensed by each State’s own Supreme Court, and regulated by an organization of lawyers known as the Bar (such as the Florida Bar, the New Jersey State Bar Association, etc.). Although lawyers can be admitted to practice before federal courts, there is no “federal bar” to which lawyers must belong in the United States. Each federal court has its own procedures for admission, and each State requires new attorneys to apply for admission to practice law in that State – even if the person is already a lawyer in another State. Some States do allow a waiver for admission if a lawyer is licensed in another State, and for federal agencies, such as the Department of Labor, admission to just one federal court allows an attorney to practice before any federal agency.

One way to investigate a lawyer’s qualifications is to contact the State Bar association where that lawyer lives or practices law. As an example, all of the lawyers of Barnett, Lerner & Karsen, P.A. are licensed to practice law in the State of Florida and various federal courts. Each attorney’s eligibility to practice law can be confirmed on the Florida Bar website: www.flabar.org. Not only will you find a lawyer’s eligibility to practice law on a State Bar’s website, but many States, like Florida, will list a lawyer’s area of practice, education, admission date, current employment and contact information, as well as any recent disciplinary action.

The next thing you can do is research your lawyer – see if he or she has a reputation in the community. Do people speak highly of the lawyer’s work? Do other people in your situation recommend the lawyer? Does the lawyer belong to any groups or organizations that rate or grade lawyers? Does the lawyer go to trial or have extensive litigation experience? How long has the lawyer been licensed?

The Department of Labor’s Office of Administrative Law Judge’s website has a search function that allows you to search for cases by Party name, by lawyer name, or by firm name. This will allow you to see how many times a lawyer or firm has had matters before the Office of Administrative Law Judges, particularly in Longshore and Defense Base Act claims. This is one tool available to you to see your lawyer’s experience. A simple Google search can also reveal additional information.

Most importantly, the hiring of an attorney should never be based on advertising alone. Many State Bars have strict rules regarding the type of advertising a lawyer can do, what information can or cannot be included in advertising, and whether specialties or quality of legal services can be discussed. Be wary of any lawyer or law firm that makes promises or suggests certain results. Contact the lawyer or law firm for more information; research the lawyer on the State Bar website; ask around.

The lawyers at Barnett, Lerner & Karsen, P.A. encourage all of our clients, and any potential clients, to investigate our credentials and qualifications. You can visit our web site at www.injuredoverseas.com for a brief biography of each lawyer, contact us for additional information, look us up on the Florida Bar’s website, Google us, and use the search function on the OALJ’s website. We welcome any inquires you may have, and look forward to working with all of our clients in the future.
Success Stories

F.S. v. Entire Builders Engineering, 2013-LDA-00347 (Nov. 13, 2013); B. L. v. Entire Builders Engineering, 2013-LDA-00376 (Nov. 13, 2013); E.M. v. Entire Builders Engineering, 2013-LDA-00309 (Nov. 13, 2013); and C. E. v. Entire Builders Engineering, 2013-LDA-00234 (Nov. 13, 2013).

On July 2, 2012, a suicide bomber blew up a car packed with explosives outside a university in southern Afghanistan. Seven civilian workers were killed, and 23 more were wounded. Barnett, Lerner & Karsen, P.A. represented four Filipino contractors in their Defense Base Act claims brought against an Afghanistan-based Employer for injuries suffered as a result of the bombing. The Afghan Employer acted as a sub-contractor for several general contractors in Afghanistan.

At the time of the bombing, the Afghan company did not have the required Defense Base Act insurance coverage, and refused to provide any benefits to the injured workers. Brian Karsen, Esq. pursued claims directly against the Afghan Employer and, in November 2013, secured judgments from the Office of Administrative Law Judges in Washington, D.C. awarding compensation and medical benefits to these individuals. As the Afghan company refused to acknowledge the judgments and provide the awarded benefits, Mr. Karsen and the firm are now seeking to enforce the judgments against the general contractors. Under the Defense Base Act, if a sub-contractor does not have the required insurance coverage, the next contractor in line – usually the general contractor – becomes responsible for providing benefits under the Act. This concept is very common in State workers’ compensation laws, and the general contractor becomes the “statutory employer” for insurance purposes. This ensures there is adequate coverage for injuries sustained on the job.

Lesson Learned: Even if the immediate sub-contracting Employer does not have insurance coverage, a claim for DBA benefits can still be brought against the Employer, and any award of benefits can be enforced against the general contractor.
Barnett, Lerner & Karsen, P.A.
2860 Marina Mile Blvd., Suite 105
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33312
(954) 920-7400
(954) 920-9492 facsimile
(888) 732-7425 U.S. Toll Free