Injuries During Layovers

Chicago Lawyers for Airline Workers' Compensation Claims

Layovers occur when an airplane stops at a terminal during travel between two points. Sometimes the passengers leave the plane and wait in the terminal, and in other cases, they simply transfer airplanes. Layovers can range in length from half an hour to 23 hours. Stopovers involve a stay of more than 24 hours in a city while traveling internationally or four hours domestically. If you work in the airline industry as a pilot or in another position, and have suffered injuries during a layover, you may be worried about how to pay your medical and other bills. Our experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys can assess your case and help you understand your legal options with regard to available benefits and compensation.

Injuries During Layovers

Flight attendants and crewmembers often get off the place during a layover with the intent of getting back on. However, they are often still considered to be in the course and scope of employment during this time. If you are functioning in the course of employment at the time of an injury and are injured by a risk that arises from your employment, you should be able to qualify for workers' compensation benefits. Generally, a crewmember or flight attendant who travels for work should be able to be compensated for injuries incurred during a layover (as opposed to a stopover).

Typically, injuries that happen off the clock or while traveling to a job aren't covered. However, injuries that occur during layovers are treated differently because the worker is considered to be acting in the course and scope of employment during the whole travel period. So, for example, if you are injured in a slip and fall in an airport terminal restaurant during a 2 hour layover for refueling, you may have a third party claim against the restaurant, but you may also be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for injuries incurred in the course of employment. In general, getting food or staying in a hotel when you are a traveling employee who is on call is considered a risk of the work, and so you are likely to be able to get workers' compensation under these circumstances.

There have been some situations in which airline employees have been able to obtain workers' compensation for injuries suffered during leisure activities conducted during a layover. The question is whether the activity during which the worker was injured could be reasonably anticipated due to the fact of the travel for work. This can be a challenging analysis, and it isn't always clear whether a particular activity will be found to be within the course and scope of employment. A seasoned workers’ compensation lawyer can potentially help you present a compelling case for benefits if you have suffered injuries during a layover in this kind of situation.

Average Weekly Wage

Your average weekly wage as an airline employee will affect the amount of disability benefits you receive. As a claimant in a workers' compensation case, you have the burden of establishing your average weekly wage. The Workers’ Compensation Commission then decides your average weekly wage as a factual issue.

Sometimes airline workers are paid amounts as reimbursements for travel expenses that aren't part of their wages for purposes of the average weekly wage calculation. This is because the reimbursements are just returning the claimant to the financial position she would be in had she not incurred an employment-related expense. There's no economic loss for not getting those payments if she isn't incurring employment related expenses during a period of disability. On the other hand, when a payment is a travel expense and represents an actual economic gain, and not a reimbursement, it should be part of the average weekly wage. For example, if there is a per diem payment that is more than expenses during a trip, the difference is an actual economic gain that should figure into the average weekly wage.

Consult a Knowledgeable Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Chicago

If you are an airline worker who was injured during a layover, a workers' compensation lawyer can help you pursue the benefits to which you may be entitled. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Eagle, Johnson & Bareck, we represent injured airline employees including baggage handlers, gate agents, and others in Chicago, Springfield, Aurora, Rockford, Champaign, and Quincy, as well as Cook, Adams, Champaign, Sangamon, Winnebago, and Kane Counties. Call us at 312-263-6330 or toll-free at 800-444-1525, or contact us online to learn more about pursuing your case today.