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- Make note of your injury to your supervisor at the time of the injury or as soon thereafter as practicable. The key here is to make sure you have an email/paperwork or other evidence of such notice to support that you notified your supervisor. Often times contractors notify their supervisor or someone else but once they have returned home they have no proof of such notice nor the ability to communicate with their former coworkers and teammates to get evidence of such notice. The DBA requires notice to your supervisor and Employer and showing this happened will go a long way to getting your claim accepted.
- Take pictures. Adjusters, Judges and attorneys hear testimony and read medical reports all day long but if you have a picture of a body part swollen to 3x its normal size it will have a much greater effect than a simple medical report describing the same condition. If it is a psychological injury or exposure injury take pictures of where you worked or the after effects of a bombing or where rounds or mortars impacted in relation to your living or eating quarters. If you can show the adjuster pictures it may help expedite getting authorization for doctors you need or for turning on your weekly compensation benefits.
- Retain a knowledgeable DBA attorney at the first available opportunity even while still overseas. The insurance company will try to gain an advantage by getting a recorded statement at the first available opportunity. If you are unrepresented they will ask you leading questions that you don’t fully understand the significance of until later and then they will try to use those statements against you. Even though you are telling the truth, the way they ask the questions and the follow up questions they ask can be used to guide you to say something which is not an accurate portrayal of your situation. You want to know what you are walking into before you walk into it and an experienced DBA attorney will be able to prepare you with helpful information giving you an advantage towards getting your claim accepted.
- Seek medical care immediately. The longer you wait the more likely the insurance company is to contest your claim initially and you are more likely to do more significant and permanent harm to yourself. The insurance company may contend that you were injured after you left work if you do not seek medical attention prior to leaving work. The fact that you had to be cleared medically to go there coupled with the medical report making it necessary for you to go home will help you get your claim accepted more quickly.
- Keep records of everything and get copies of your overseas or clinic medical to take with you. Once you are back at home it will be incredibly difficult to get medical records to provide to the insurance company showing your injuries. The insurance company will not take your word for it, you will need documents to prove anything you want to show.
- Be honest. If you have an attorney who has evaluated your case, be sure to tell them everything. They can advise you on how to handle your case if they know all of the facts however, if they do not the advice could lead to a negative result. If you have told your attorney everything and they have accepted your case then you just need to be honest with all of your answers to the insurance company and your medical care providers as well. If the answers you gave your attorney mirror those that you give the insurance company you are more likely to get your claim accepted and less likely to give the insurance company evidence they can use to deny your claim.
- Have proof of your wages for the last 52 weeks and a copy of your employment contract. Under the DBA you need to show your Average Weekly Wage (how much you make on average in a week) and the amount you receive for compensation is based on your AWW. The insurance adjuster will need to determine how much.
- Explain the full extent of your job to your medical providers and the insurance company. Often times claims are denied because the medical provider or insurance adjuster does not understand the extreme physical and mental requirements necessary to do a contractors job. If you do not accurately describe your job to them they may believe your injury does not prevent you from working and deny your claim as a result.