February 2016 Newsletter

Welcome to the DBA Newsletter, prepared by Barnett, Lerner, Karsen & Frankel, P.A.  We hope this will help you learn more about the Defense Base Act and your legal rights.

Community Involvement

The firm continues to invest in the local and legal community. Liza E. Lima, Esq. recently joined the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (“WISTA”). WISTA is an international organization for women involved in maritime transportation business and related trades. The local chapter meets once a month throughout various locations in South Florida. In December 2015 Ms. Lima participated in the 2015 Shoebox Christmas project where WISTA members helped wrap shoeboxes with gifts that serve mariners from 80 countries.
On December 4, 2015 Samuel S. Frankel, Jr., Esq. and Mr. Dennis Fichtel were interviewed for the Broward County Bar Association’s Legal News and Review, a radio broadcast in the South Florida area, and also broadcast online at i-Heart Radio. During this interview, Messrs. Frankel and Fichtel discussed the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act and the Defense Base Act. This informative interview can be heard at http://www.browardbar.org/12042015-federal-workers-compensation-law/.
In January 2016 Samuel S. Frankel, Jr., Esq. represented the firm in the Miami Design Preservation League’s annual Art Deco Weekend in South Beach, Miami. This organization is devoted to preserving, protecting, and promoting the Miami Beach Architectural Historic District, one of the largest Art Deco locations in the world. The firm is proud to be a part of preserving this historic district and architectural heritage of South Florida.

Brian C. Karsen, Esq. recently volunteered as the Chief Legal Officer with a new non-profit veteran’s job placement organization, Patriot Placements. This organization matches veterans and businesses to help facilitate the re-integration and employment of returning military veterans into the workforce. Further information on this special organization can be found at http://patriotplacements.org/.

Seminars and Client Development

Members of the firm regularly speak at seminars around the country on various topics touching on Longshore and Defense Base Act issues.  We also offer free informational seminars on the Longshore and Defense Base Acts for our existing and potential clients both in the United States and abroad.  In December 2012 members of the firm spent several days in Manila, Philippines, hosting a free informational seminar on the Defense Base Act.  Recently, members of the firm have traveled to Lima, Peru in February 2015 and February 2016 for several days, speaking on the Defense Base Act and meeting with new and existing clients.  We feel this outreach is an extremely important way to help educate non-U.S. civilian contractors about their rights under the Defense Base Act.

Success Stories

M.M. v. Science Application International and AIG, 2015-LDA-00241 (Jan. 21, 2016)

Recently, Brian Karsen, Esq. secured a verdict from the Office of Administrative Law Judges awarding our client significant benefits.  The insurance company terminated our client’s compensation benefits in September 2014, asserting that our client had fully recovered from her injuries.  The insurance company also refused to authorize neck surgery.  Based on an opinion obtained from its retained doctor, the insurance company denied the surgery was related to our client’s work accident, and argued that she had fully recovered.  The insurance company also asserted that any need for surgery was due to a pre-existing condition.  Sworn testimony was secured from multiple doctors that established our client’s pre-existing condition had been aggravated by her work accident, which now required surgery.  Following the submission of written briefs in support of our client’s position, the Judge ordered the insurance company to pay for our client’s neck surgery.  Additionally, the Judge awarded our client past owed compensation benefits, and also ordered the insurance company to pay compensation benefits on an ongoing basis at the maximum weekly compensation rate allowed under the law.

Lesson Learned:  A major defense in this case was the pre-existing nature of certain injuries.  Under the Defense Base Act, if the work accident aggravates a pre-existing condition, or accelerates the need for medical care of a pre-existing condition, the Employer/Carrier is responsible for treatment.  Therefore, if you are injured, it is important that your doctors know not only about your accident and your symptoms or injuries, but your past medical history as well.  This way, if the Employer/Carrier denies your claim, your doctors are ready to address how the accident may have aggravated or accelerated the injury or need for treatment.

G.O. v. MoveOne and CNA, 2015-LDA-00172 (Feb. 17, 2016)

Samuel S. Frankel, Jr., Esq. prevailed before the Office of Administrative Law Judges, securing medical and expense reimbursements for our overseas client. The client was severely injured in 2011, resulting in multiple physical and emotional injuries. Although the Employer/Carrier originally denied the claim, after submission of trial briefs in 2013, the Employer/Carrier agreed to rescind its denial of the claim and stipulated to the provision of benefits. A new dispute arose in shortly thereafter; the Employer/Carrier refused to pay for medical treatment and out-of-pocket expenses for our client. Our client, living in Africa, treated with several medical providers for his injuries, and the Employer/Carrier arbitrarily required the African doctors to comply with billing and reporting requirements – such as requiring a contemporaneous medical report for each bill submitted for payment. The Employer/Carrier also refused to reimburse our client for his transportation expenses, and even refused to reimburse him for diagnostic testing and travel to the Employer/Carrier’s own independent medical examination. Due to the severity of our client’s injuries, the outstanding medical bills, expenses, and reimbursements were very high. After obtaining all of the medical required, bills, receipts, and other expenses, as well as affidavits from our client and his treating physicians, the evidence was submitted to the Court, along with written briefs in support of our client’s position. The Chief Administrative Law Judge awarded our client all of his expenses and reimbursements, and ordered the insurance company to pay the treating doctors for their services.

Lesson Learned: Almost all of our trials for overseas clients are conducted by submission of the evidence and written briefs to the Court. In order for medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses to be reimbursed, we must present the Court with sufficient documentation substantiating the medical bills, the reasonableness and necessity of the medical treatment (was the medical treatment that was billed related to the accident and required to treat the injury?), and receipts or other proof of expenses incurred by the injured worker for his medical care. This can best be accomplished with affidavits by the injured worker as well as the treating doctors, especially in cases where the Judge is only considering the submitted documents without live trial testimony. Whether you are treating in the United States or another country, it is very important for you and your doctors to keep accurate records and bills for payment or reimbursement.