Where Does an Airline Employee File a Workers’ Comp Claim if an Injury Occurred While Traveling?

Written by Ankin Law Office

Where the worker was hired matters more than where the accident occurred. But flight attendants, baggage handlers and others have rules to follow.

Turbulence in flight might make passengers nervous. But for flight attendants, it can be the cause of serious injury that may ground them for months or years, sometimes ending their careers.

A survey of accidents by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) between the years 1980 and 2008 found that in 234 turbulence-related accidents nearly 300 people suffered serious injuries. Of those, 184 of the injured were flight attendants (clearly, an indication of the value of seat belts –and the dangers to workers whose jobs require them to stand and walk the aisles).

The types of injuries that flight attendants suffer include back injuries, fractures, and concussions. But even everyday flights in smooth skies can lead to back injuries, repetitive stress injuries, skin burns (upset coffee urns) and lacerations due to food cart malfunctions and, occasionally, unruly passengers.

So if a flight attendant from Chicago suffers an injury on a flight originating in Los Angeles or Kuala Lumpur, how and where does to collect from workers comp insurance might be confusing. Does an Illinois airline worker need to hire a workers compensation attorney to work through a multistate bureaucratic mess?

Yes and no. The workers comp system is largely structured to benefit people with genuine, work-interrupting injuries. And yet it also is structured to prevent fraud such that many applications are rejected initially, but later approved on appeal after the case is fully presented. The starting point is to file a claim; for airline workers, this is generally done in the state in which they were hired somewhat irrespective of where they live. As home to a two international airports, Chicago has workers compensation lawyers who are experienced at working through these questions.

Use the right doctors – and lawyers – for an airlines injury claim

What any injured employee needs to prove is that the injury (or illness) happened while working, that board-certified healthcare providers properly treated it, and that it has an economic impact (lost wages and healthcare-related costs). Rules on many components of workers compensation vary by state, but Illinois is considered a favorable state for claims. Some airlines employees who were hired and who live out of state might be eligible to file in Illinois as well. And of course ground crew – gate agents, baggage handlers, office workers, etc. – are eligible for benefits in the state as well.

What matters most, after initial emergency care is administered, is that the injured employee adhere to the employers’ preferred provider program (PPP) for care. By and large, it also makes sense for recently-injured airlines workers to immediately contact a workers comp attorney – in Illinois or wherever hired.

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