If you have been injured while performing your duties as an observer, you may be eligible for compensation under the Federal Employee's Compensation Act (FECA). FECA is a federal law which provides benefits for work-related injuries or occupational diseases. These benefits include

  • payment of medical expenses and compensation for wage loss.
  • FECA also provides for payment of benefits to dependents.

Although FECA is primarily intended for federal employees, a 1996 amendment to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act extended the provisions of FECA to observers, as follows (section 403(c)):

"An observer on a vessel and under contract to carry out responsibilities under this Act or the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (16 USC 1361 et seq.) shall be deemed to be a Federal employee for purposes of compensation under the Federal Employee Compensation Act (5 USC 8101 et seq.)."

If you are an observer working for NMFS or under contract as described above, you are covered under FECA regardless of how long you have worked as an observer or your work schedule, including if you work on a seasonal, part-time, intermittent, or contracted basis

.If you are injured, you must immediately notify your employer of the injury and obtain first aid or medical treatment as necessary. To obtain FECA benefits, you should also submit the appropriate FECA claim form within 30 days of the injury. The most common FECA claim forms are the following:

  • CA-1 "Federal Employee's Notice of Traumatic Injury and Claim for Continuation of Pay/Compensation" - Traumatic injuries are defined as a wound or other condition of the body caused by external force, including stress or strain. They must be caused by a specific event or incident or series of events or incidents within a single day or work shift.
  • CA-2 "Notice of Occupational Disease and Claim for Compensation" - Occupational diseases are defined as a condition produced in the work environment over a period longer than one workday or shift. It may result from systemic infections, repeated stress or strain, exposure to toxins, poisons, or fumes, or other conditions of the work environment.

The burden of proof for all claims is the responsibility of the claimant. Claimants must prove that they were performing their official duties as an observer when the injury occurred. In addition, claims must be supported by medical documentation that includes the following information:

  • history of injury
  • diagnosis
  • statement that supports that the reported injury caused the condition
  • course of treatment
  • test results
  • prognosis.

Compensation will be decided on a case by case basis after a thorough review of the claim form(s) and all supporting documentation.

6301 Campus Circle Drive, East Irving, Texas 75063
U.S. Dept. of Labor/OWCP
1240 E. 9th St., room 851
Cleveland, OH 44199
216-902-5600 (voice)
216-902-5601 (fax)
P.O. Box 542528
Dallas, Texas 75354-2528