by David Phinney
Tuesday June 25th 2019

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Rearview Mirror: The War for Insurance Coverage

Hundreds of injured civilians who worked in Iraq and Afghanistan take the war home with them as they battle for insurance coverage they are owed.


Boston Globe reporter Farah Stockman discovered that Halliburton, DynCorp, and other Defense contractors have denied insurance claims — sometimes for years — from civilian workers wounded on the battlefield or who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. The story finds that administrative law judges eventually ordered the companies to pay millions of dollars in compensation on such claims that they initially denied.
To see the judgments in these cases and others, go here. Under docket search type in LDA in the middle search field
The Jan. 20 story is not a new one. I wrote about the same issue several years ago — and I guarantee you, the companies and government agencies are very slow in responding to reporters about this.
The Globe recounts tales of those struggling with coming home:
Robert Purcella: Spent nearly two years to win back his workers’ compensation benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder and physical injuries. The Texas truck driver had his windows blown out in four attacks in Iraq. During one attack, he used a hammer to kill a robber trying to pull him from the truck — “cracking his skull wide open,” the ruling states. The judge also stated that Purcella was instructed by the military not to stop his truck under any circumstances and he “on occasion . . . ran over civilians as they attempted to stop the convoy.”
Samuel Walker: After a suicide bomb attack burned his hands and face on a military base in Iraq, he was initially refused treatment because his wounds were deemed not life-threatening, a judge recounted in his ruling. Halliburton then prevented Walker and four other wounded employees from leaving the base to seek treatment on their own, because the company was understaffed. Once home, it took months to find a doctor who was acceptable to Halliburton.
Robert Rowe: In a case still pending, the Ohio truck driver was shot in Iraq in August 2004. It took months of phone calls to Halliburton and AIG after his return to the United States to arrange for needed surgery to repair his leg, he claims. Ultimately, the insurer, AIG, told him it would not compensate him because he did not have enough documentation and because they alleged that he had quit his job, Rowe claims.
The Globe examined 113 disputed cases that went to the Office of Administrative Law Judges in the US Department of Labor. Workers won outright in 37 and companies settled in 65 others, often agreeing to pay tens of thousands of dollars or more in additional benefits. Only 11 employees’ claims were turned down by judges:

These cases represent a small fraction of the more than 13,000 insurance claims that have been filed by workers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. The vast majority of cases are resolved when employees file required paperwork or during private mediation between the companies and employees overseen by the Department of Labor. But in hundreds of cases, the companies refused to settle, arguing that workers were not injured on the job or that they were asking for too much money.

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