Work on the Air Operations Area (“AOA”) can be hazardous. Workers injured while getting jets ready for their next flight usually have a workers’ compensation claim with their employer. However, when an airline employee is harmed by the unsafe conduct of an airport worker employed by a different company, the injured victim may also have a case against the negligent person and their employers according to Washington Dulles (“IAD”) and Reagan National (“DCA”) Airports lawyer Doug Landau, of the Herndon law firm Abrams Landau, Ltd.
For example, if an airline baggage loader slipped and fell during a late night shift at IAD on jet fuel carelessly spilled by workers of another company, the airline employee would be able to get their medical bills covered by their own employer’s workers’ comp insurance company, partial wage replacement, reimbursement for travel, prescriptions, etc., and potential future permanency payments as well. In addition, this disabled airline worker could also bring a claim against the fuel truck operator and their employer for “negligence.” This claim is not required, but the losses a negligence case can cover are far greater than the limited medical bill payment and partial wage replacement benefits allowed under the Workers’ Comp laws of many states.
“Negligence” means that the jet fuel truck operator failed to act with due care for the safety of others on the AOA, like the baggage worker. Spilling jet fuel at night on the tarmac created a dangerous condition, leading to the baggage worker’s fall and injuries. If the jet fuel truck is not owned and operated by the baggage worker’s employer, then a “third party lawsuit” can be filed. Lawyer Landau notes, “If the baggage worker was injured by an airline co-worker or contractor employed by the same airline, a 3rd party case would likely be precluded by the ‘workers’ comp bar’ under these facts.” In the 3rd party lawsuit, the injured baggage worker could seek restitution for 100% of his/her lost wages, 100% of past and future medical bills, payment for physical pain, loss of bonuses, job opportunities, earning capacity, emotional distress, shortened life span, scarring, inconvenience, mental suffering, etc. These items allow for a jury to vote for far more than what is allowed under the administrative workers’ comp system.
If you, or someone you care for, has been injured in an accident at an airport, whether in the terminal, on the AOA, on an airplane or other air travel related accident and there are questions about what laws apply, e-mail or call us at Abrams Landau, Ltd. (703-796-9555) at once.