Battlefields are among the most dangerous places on earth, and injuries are bound to happen. And while most employees are covered by traditional workers' compensation benefits, is the same true for people injured during military operations?
The answer, as always in the legal realm, is: it depends. Let's take a look at the law differs for members of the armed services and for civil contractors.
Traditional soldiers are not eligible for workers' compensation for injuries sustained on the battlefield. Instead, those benefits are administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans with disabilities due to an injury incurred during active military service are eligible for disability compensation from the VA.
However, just because those benefits are available, doesn't mean they are always administered in a timely manner. Last year, the VA admitted that at least 23 veterans died because of delays in treatment and care. Veterans or their loved ones may have to sue the VA over delays in treatment in order to be compensated.
Civilian employees of the federal government are covered under the Federal Employee's Compensation Act (FECA). Federal employees that are disabled or killed while in the performance of their duties, may be eligible for benefits under FECA. Absent coverage under FECA, a civilian contractor may have to sue the military under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), though successfully suing the military may be a difficult task.
To find out if you're eligible for workers' compensation as a public employee, or to see if you have a claim as a veteran for delayed treatment, you may want to consult with an experienced workers' compensation attorney near you.