Articles Posted in Aviation Accidents

American AirlinesAirline passengers and flight crews acknowledge that deciding to fly aboard a commercial flight comes with certain risks. One type of risk that neither group likely anticipates while flying is facing injuries from a runaway beverage cart. However, on multiple occasions in recent months, runaway beverage carts have inflicted injuries on both passengers and airline employees. At least two of these incidents involved American Airlines and American Eagle. The incidents serve as a reminder that one can incur injuries aboard an airplane from many different sources. Regardless of the source of your injury, it is important to work with skilled Chicago airplane accident attorneys who can help you understand and protect your rights.

The most recent incident to make the headlines involved American Airlines Flight 1941. Early in the flight, the beverage cart, which was fully stocked and allegedly not properly secured, took off careening down the aisle of the Hartford-to-Charlotte flight. The cart, according to a Reuters report, hit one passenger with such force that it knocked his hat off his head. The total damages the man suffered went far beyond just a removed hat, though. The impact allegedly caused a large gash in the man’s forehead, severe bleeding, and a loss of consciousness.

According to the man’s complaint, the infliction of this serious injury did not lead the flight crew to initiate an emergency landing. Instead, the crew flew on to Charlotte, which took another two hours (after the accident occurred). The passenger sued American in federal court, alleging that the airline’s negligence caused him to suffer “chronic traumatic brain injury and post-concussive syndrome.”

United Airlines (UAL) employees are talking and social media chat rooms are buzzing about the potential change in workers’ compensation administrators. For about 20 years Gallagher Bassett has been administrating the claims for benefits due to occupational injuries also known as “occupationals”, “OJI” or workers’ compensation injuries. Typically, an administrator provides claims adjustment services that include the investigation and processing of injury claims and payment of weekly workers’ compensation income benefits known as temporary total disability (TTD) and authorization for medical procedures and payment of medical bills. The administrator may also, at times, negotiate settlements after the injured worker has been released from doctor’s care.

There does not appear to have been a formal notice or press release confirming that United Airlines is replacing Gallagher Bassett. There has been speculation that this may occur October 1, 2017 and that the new claims administrator will be Sedgwick Claims Management Services.

Helpful Advice for the Injured Worker

What do I do when I am injured at work?

You know your job and you know what to do when things are running smoothly and when things go wrong. However, when you get injured you may be unsure about what to do and what to say. Here are some helpful hints for figuring out what to do when you get injured at work.

1. Report everything. If you get hurt at work you should report the accident to your superiors as soon as possible. Let them know exactly what happened and when it happened. It is easy when you have a specific injury, “I picked up a box and felt a sharp pain in my low back.” It is harder when the injury is due to the repetitive and forceful activities that you do at work. If you have pain and think it is work related let somebody know about it and see a doctor. You will need to report the claim to your employer as soon as a doctor tells you that your pain may be work related. Reporting every injury does not mean you are going to a doctor or hiring a lawyer every time. You are documenting that something happened. If you get hurt on Thursday but do not report it until the following Monday your employer may question your claim. Report the accident as soon as possible.

commercial aircraftIf you’ve read enough headlines about air travel, you’ve probably seen it. Whether it was the United Airlines flight attendants who suffered injuries on a flight from Denver to Omaha, or the Qantas flight attendant who broke her ankle on a flight from Perth to Canberra, turbulence can represent a very serious risk of injury for airline cabin crews. And, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, these injuries are rising. The FAA reported that twice as many serious turbulence injuries occurred in 2016 as in 2015, according to USA Today.

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United AirlinesChances are, if you’ve followed the news during the past several weeks, you’re familiar with a doctor from Kentucky and his premature exit from United Airlines Flight 3411, bound from O’Hare Airport to Louisville. Cell phone video footage shows law enforcement officers violently dragging the man off the flight, allegedly causing the doctor to suffer a concussion, a broken nose, and the loss of two teeth. Now, sources including the Chicago Tribune indicate that legal action is forthcoming.

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airline workerFor airline employees, their jobs come with a substantial degree of risk. Their employment responsibilities place many of them in a position to potentially sustain harm. One United Airlines employee dislocated his patella while doing his job on Christmas Day in 2013. That injury entitled him to workers’ compensation benefits. While his case took place in Virginia, the outcome is instructive regarding how employees can obtain compensation in Illinois.

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United AirlinesA job as a flight attendant can involve many potential hazards. For one United Airlines flight attendant, her injuries took place not while she was on-duty but while she was traveling off-duty aboard a United flight to go to work the next day. The First District Appellate Court, in addressing this employee’s case, concluded that she did not meet any of the factors that would show that she was a “traveling employee.” Since she did not qualify under the traveling employee exception, the flight attendant was deemed merely to be commuting to work and was not entitled to benefits.

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airline pilotAn airline pilot who suffered a serious neck injury lost her workers’ compensation claim because, according to an Appellate Court ruling, her pursuit of her case did not comply with the time limitation rules imposed by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission’s regulations. This pilot’s loss should serve as a clear instruction to all workers injured on the job to take prompt action and retain experienced counsel to ensure that limitations periods and procedural rules do not defeat their cases.

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Scores of injury claims for flight attendants are not filed every year due to lack of information, lack of perseverance and mostly due to fear. Flight attendants get hurt on the job. Whether due to turbulence, lifting heavy bags, pushing carts, ground transportation and layover accidents or repetitive trauma, injuries for flight attendants are common. Whether you call it an “occupational,” “IOD” (injury on duty), job injury or workers’ compensation claim, your rights as an injured worker are established by law. The Illinois Workers Compensation Act provides benefits for the injured, including medical expenses, lost income protection through weekly payments known as Temporary Total Disability (TTD) and compensation for permanent partial and total disability known as a “settlement” or “award.” The Illinois Workers Compensation Act is a no-fault system, which means the flight attendant need not prove their employer did anything unsafe or wrong to be eligible for benefits. These benefits are in place for the injured to get the help they need to recover from the injury and minimize the hardships that may result from the injury. Illinois workers compensation is the best benefit available to UAL flight attendants injured on the job.

Many United Airline flight attendants based or domiciled outside of the United States in London, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Narita and Guam deprive themselves of these benefits by not filing a workers compensation claim in Illinois when injured.

There is nothing to fear. Some flight attendants tell us they will not pursue a claim when injured because they are afraid they will be fired from their job. It is illegal to fire, harass or retaliate against an employee for filing an occupational claim or hiring an attorney to pursue it. Additionally, the union contract between the AFA and United Airlines protects against United Airlines terminating the flight attendant’s employment. Our firm has successfully helped United Airline flight attendants injured on the job for over 50 years. We have represented many internationally domiciled flight attendants including United-AFA union, MEC and LEC officers.

In America, there are over 98,000 flight attendants who face the risk of injury or death every time they board an aircraft. Some injuries are immediate, while others can develop slowly over time. Since 2003, nearly 34% of flight attendants have reported injuries stemming from their occupation. Moreover, 25% of flight attendants who are injured on the job have to take time away from work while their injuries heal and they recuperate. In some cases, their airlines may hold this time away from work against the employee which can have long-term career consequences that may affect an individual’s immediate income and opportunities for advancement.

Immediate Risks Flight Attendants Face

Flight attendants can be seriously injured at any time before, during, or following a flight. Common sources of injuries include the following: