It can be important for an United Airlines employee to discuss an injury during a layover with an attorney. As demonstrated by numerous cases, including that of a flight attendant bitten by a spider while sleeping in a hotel during a layover, a Los Angeles flight attendant may be eligible for workers’ compensation. Understanding how the concept of “course and scope of employment” applies to layover injuries is essential to taking the best course of action in this type of situation.
Workers’ compensation benefits are provided to employees who are injured in the course and scope of employment. There are some key differences in the way that concept is applied to the circumstances of traveling workers, such as United Airlines flight attendants, and typical, fixed place employees. The range of circumstances that can be considered as within the course and scope of employment is much broader for traveling employees, allowing them to be compensated for injuries that would typically be denied had they occurred in a worker with a fixed place of employment.
After-hours injuries or accidents that occur during travel to and from the job are not covered in fixed place employees. However, if a Los Angeles flight attendant is injured in a hotel or restaurant during a layover in Chicago or while in route to one, those injuries may well be compensable. Generally, workers who are traveling on behalf of their employers are regarded as acting within the course of employment throughout the entire period of travel. Procuring food and shelter are considered incidents of employment in the case of traveling employees, and injuries sustained during the course of these activities are typically covered by workers’ compensation.
For example, a flight attendant who was injured on a layover due to a spider bite that occurred as she slept in a hotel room was deemed eligible for compensation and that decision was affirmed on appeal. While the flight attendant was not actively engaged in work-related activity at the time of the injury, the incident was determined to be within the scope and course of employment, as she was required, for employment purposes, to stay at the hotel in the layover city and was on call when the injury occurred.
Additionally, under some circumstances, flight attendants can receive workers’ compensation benefits for layover injuries that occur during social or leisure activities. In one such case, a Los Angeles flight attendant was injured during a sight-seeing excursion while on layover in Puerto Rico. Initially, her claim was denied, but that decision was reversed on appeal. The court found that the activity was a reasonably expected or anticipated event incident to her employer’s requirement that she spend time away from home.
Layover injuries can often turn into complex cases when flight attendants pursue workers’ compensation benefits. Many gray areas exist in terms of exactly what circumstances can be deemed within the scope and course of employment of a traveling employee. For this reason, it is in the best interests of United Airlines employees to consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney when layover injuries occur to ensure that these cases are handled to their best advantage.