Airline Work Injuries

Airline personnel include the flight crew, the ground crew, baggage handlers and gate and ticket agents. These employees face Airline Work Injuries everyday, such as back, shoulder and knee injuries caused by turbulence, overhead work activities or lifting and twisting heavy bags. An airline worker can file a workers’ compensation claim in the State of Illinois to recover for work-related injuries if he or she meets one of the following requirements:

  1. He or she was hired in Illinois, no matter where they are principally employed or where the injury occurred.
  2. He or she was injured in Illinois, no matter where they were hired or are principally employed.
  3. He or she is principally employed in Illinois, no matter where they were hired or where the injury occurred.

In a 2006 case, the court held that a United Airlines (UA) ramp employee domiciled in Florida was entitled to receive Illinois workers’ compensation benefits. UA hired the employee in Chicago in 1969. He worked at O’Hare International Airport and lived in Chicago until 1993. After his divorce there, he voluntarily asked UA for a transfer to Orlando International Airport and moved to Florida. The ramp worker obtained a Florida driver’s license, bought a home in Orlando, remarried and paid Florida taxes. The employee suffered two Airline Work Injuries in 1999 and 2001. He received temporary total disability benefits pursuant to Florida’s workers’ compensation law. A Florida physician treated him for his injuries in Orlando, Florida.

The ramp worker filed two applications in Illinois to adjust both of his Florida workers’ compensation benefits. He claimed that he was entitled to Illinois’ worker’s compensation benefits because UA hired him in Chicago in 1969. The worker had no ties with Illinois after 1993, other than to visit family. The Supreme Court of Illinois held that the ramp worker was entitled to collect Illinois workers’ compensation benefits, finding that he was a covered “employee” as defined by the statute because UA had hired him in Chicago. In other words, the worker satisfied the first requirement noted above.

Illinois’ workers’ compensation laws have been characterized as fairly comprehensive. The “basics” are as follows:

  • An airline employee who has suffered a work-related injury should at least tell a supervisor about the injury within 45 days after the injury or the claim could be dismissed as time barred.
  • The airline is required to pay for 100 percent of medical expenses that are reasonably required to heal or comfort the employee from the effects of the work-related injury.
  • The minimum amount of temporary total disability benefits (TTD) is 66.66 percent of the employee’s average weekly wages. Between now and January 14, 2013, the maximum amount of TTD benefits per week is $1295.47. TTD benefits are paid at the same interval the worker was paid before the injury, and there is no time limit to receiving TTD benefits.

An airline employee who has filed for workers’ compensation benefits in another state may be able to collect more benefits in Illinois. Employees should seek the guidance of an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney to help them obtain the most compensation for their Airline Work Injuries.