Recently, an airport worker in Pennsylvania was awarded workers' compensation benefits because of a work-related injury in which she lost her leg. US News & World Report told the story of the injured worker. The young woman who got hurt at the airport was 21-years-old. The incident which injured her occurred when a luggage tug at the airport flipped over. She made a workers' compensation claim, which was initially denied. The company argued the employee was not actually working at the time of the incident. The employee was driving the luggage tug to meet her mother, as her mother had arranged to bring her food.
Although benefits were initially denied, the workers' compensation appeals board overturned the initial denial and granted the 21-year-old injured worker full disability benefits. The aviation company appealed, but the request to appeal was rejected, which means the young worker will continue to receive these important benefits. Workers' compensation not only provides partial or total disability income, but also coverage for medical care which the injured worker may need due to losing her leg.
The implications of this case are broader than this single employer. It has the potential to impact all airport employees who may now be eligible for benefits under that relatively broad definition of what occurs "in the course and scope of employment." This is the standard for anyone making a workers' compensation claim.
Unlike injury lawsuits rooted in negligence, workers' compensation claimants do not need to prove the employer was negligent. However, they do need to show the injury was work-related.
Workers' compensation benefits should be available to airport workers any time their injuries are caused by job duties or when their injuries occur while performing work tasks. Since the recent decision involving this woman who was transporting a luggage tug while traveling to meet her mother, workers in Pennsylvania may be able to expect a broader interpretation of the law.
Airport workers are at risk of many different kinds of injuries. The U.S. Department of Labor has a list of incidents which have occurred involving airport workers including:
- Deaths due to worker falls;
- Incidents wherein workers have lost body parts that became stuck in machinery;
- Incidents where employees were hurt on movable stairs leading to the tarmac;
- Repetitive stress injuries;
- Overexertion injuries.
in one recent example provided by the Department of Labor, an airport worker suffered an overexertion injury in the form of a hernia after lifting a tow bar.
Injured workers should talk with an attorney to find out how to report their work injury and what process they must follow to get benefits.
It is also important for any airport workers who are employed by the federal government to understand their process of getting work injury benefits may differ from a traditional workers' compensation claim. Many airport security personnel are federal workers, and thus could be covered under The Federal Employees' Compensation Act as explained by the Department of Labor. An experienced attorney can provide assistance to all employees in determining which work injury benefits apply to them.