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After you sustain a serious injury on the job as a defense contractor and you file a DBA claim, it is natural to wonder how long it might take to receive your benefits. As you need medical treatment, time off work, and other care, the financial losses can add up. While it is normal to be impatient when it comes to getting payment, the reality is that there is no standard timeline for DBA claims. Some claims might be settled in less than six months, while more complicated cases might take longer. 

You should never hesitate to discuss your situation with an experienced DBA attorney so they can evaluate a possible timeline for your specific claim. The following is a brief overview of how long the DBA process might take.

Filing Your Defense Base Act Claim

You must prepare and bring a claim with the Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation (DLHWC). This requires gathering evidence including proof of your employment as a contractor overseas and proof of your injuries, including how they happened and your required treatment. 

The insurance company will soon contact you, promising they are there to help. They are not on your side, however, as an adjuster’s job is to limit claim settlements whenever possible. Sometimes, your claim might be granted by the insurance company, and you can receive benefits rather swiftly. However, all too often, an adjuster will deny your claim at the DLHWC level, though this is not the end of the road. An experienced DBA attorney can stand up to the insurance company and fight for the benefits you deserve, hopefully without the need for further appeals. 

Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ) Hearing

If your claim remains denied, our attorneys can request an administrative hearing for review of the matter by the Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ). It can take up to two months or longer to get your hearing on the docket, during which you will not be receiving benefits. Once your case is docketed, it can take up to four months for your formal hearing or trial. This means an OALJ appeal can take up to nine months in some cases. During this time, your lawyer can be preparing for your trial, and you might participate in mediation to try to avoid the need for trial. 

The OALJ Decision

The OALJ generally advises that a decision can take around five months following your trial. The complexity of your case will affect how long it takes the judge to write their formal ruling, and it might take anywhere from three months to a year. It will be worth the wait if you finally are granted the benefits you deserve.

Contact an Experienced DBA Attorney as Soon as Possible

The DBA claim appeal process can take time, so it is important to ensure you have the best chance of a claim approval from the start. Seek help from a DBA lawyer at the Mara Law Firm by calling (619) 234-2833 or contacting us online. We’re ready to help.


  • I remember screaming at a dear friend of mine saying, “WHY WON’T THE INSURANCE COVER MY TREATMENT!” He said, “…because they know if they do it will increase your settlement.” I said, “WHAT SETTLEMENT! I JUST WANT TO GET TREATMENT! I DIDN’T ASK FOR A SETTLEMENT!” Somewhere I found out that for some insurance companies they are more concerned with protecting their money. This means you are thinking about treatment and getting better while they are thinking about money. Get someone that is on your side that will fight for you. They fought for me…and won.

    Mara Law Firm ClientSan Francisco

  • He represented myself and many old CO-workers. They were very professional & I’d recommend them to anyone. Great Lawyers for the forgotten working man.

    ScottSan Francisco

  • I would definitely recommend David and really appreciated all the hard work he contributed. David really went the extra mile to help his customers. We were very happy and satisfied with his services. Thank you David!

    Mara Law Firm ClientSan Francisco

  • Mr. Mara was a pleasure to work with. He kept me in the loop. Can’t say enough how good it feels to have someone fighting for you, giving you a voice.

    AlbertSan Francisco

  • I was blown away by the results my case got. It far exceeded my expectations. Not only do you get someone who is a great professional; but he will fight for what you deserve. I was uncertain in the beginning; now I’m a believer. Mr. Mara is also personable. Lisa his paralegal was tremendous throughout the whole process. She would keep me updated on the whole process. Don’t cheat yourself by using anyone else; you will be taken care of the right way if you choose Dave

    Jerome HarrisSan Francisco

  • Mr. Mara and his firm helped me file a claim for death benefits on behalf of my late husband. I was very pleased with his knowledge, research, and representation regarding my DBA claim for death benefits. I would absolutely recommend him and its associates to my friends, family, and others needing an attorney who specializes in employment, personal injury, and death benefits. Mr. Mara was very compassionate, timely, and responsive to my family’s needs. I can’t thank him enough.

    Sally A ChandSan Francisco

  • Dave Mara  did an outstanding job on my DBA case. Dave I personally want to thank you for guiding me in the right direction and having a successful case outcome. God bless you for all the effort you put into my DBA case. Words can’t describe how thankful I am. Thank you for helping injured over seas contractors.

    Jim Joned San Francisco

  • Mr. Mara and his staff were very professional and I would highly recommend Mr. Mara. Mr. Mara had my best interests in settling my case and I am very appreciative of all he and his staff did for me. If I ever needed help or had simple questions, Mr. Mara and his staff were always available to take my calls and help me. Highly recommend this firm!

    DebSan Francisco

  • Dave Mara  comes with a very high recommendation. He took a workmans compensation case for me and really handled it well. It was an unclear case, and a new issue that the WC most likely had never seen. He kept me up to date with the long confusing process and was very understanding and sympathetic to my plight( I was the victim of a violent crime). Dave has no big lawyer shenanigans and dramatic posing, he is a down to earth, fair , honest hard working lawyer who really does not seem like an an attorney at all. I recommend anyone in the SD area to consult with Dave it was a painless process.

    Linda DSan Francisco

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