Category Archives: Airport slip/trip and fall accidents

A simple injury caused by a fall on the Airport Operations Area may not be in "safe harbor" unless and until is is properly filed with the Workers Compensation Commission.

Injuries on the Airport Operations Area (AOA) Require Prompt Notice

Frequently airline employees who have been injured on the “Airport Operations Area” mistakenly believe that if they report an accident to their employer, or their employer’s insurance company, that they are “covered” under the Virginia workers Compensation Act.

A simple injury caused by a fall on the Airport Operations Area may not be in "safe harbor" unless and until is is properly filed with the Workers Compensation Commission.
A simple injury caused by a fall on the Airport Operations Area may not be in “safe harbor” unless and until is is properly filed with the Workers Compensation Commission.

Unfortunately, this is not always true. While Virginia law requires that prompt “Notice” be given to the employer (or their insurance company), The Act also mandate that the employee timely file a claim for benefits with the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission (The “VWCC”). To put it another way, just because an injured airport worker is getting compensation payments, does not mean that the government knows about the runway accident or that the claim has been timely filed.

It is incumbent upon the injured airport worker to file a claim.  Many prefer to get experienced legal counsel to do so. Evidence tends to suggest that when an injured airline or airport worker gets legal counsel EARLY in the case, that the claim is filed properly and later complications are avoided. Herndon airport injury lawyer Doug Landau has had to turn away permanently injured airline workers who failed to give notice of their injury or file their workers compensation claim within the Statute of Limitations. This legal time limit can eviscerate an otherwise viable workers comp claim. “The claim is not a lawsuit, and there is no filing fee,” adds lawyer Landau. “However the deadlines are quite strict, and claims have been lost because of the failure to timely reporting injuries and file Applications with the Workers Compensation Commission.”

If you or someone you know or care for has been injured as the result of an accident on the job while working at an airport or for an airline, and there are questions about what laws apply, e-mail or call us at ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd. (703-796-9555) at once.

If an airline attendant is injured while pulling an airline-regulated bag, during the course and scope of employment, is that injury compensable?  Airline workers' comp lawyer Doug Landau thinks so.

Airline Attendant Injuries: What is Considered “Compensable”?

If an airline attendant is injured while pulling an airline-regulated bag, during the course and scope of employment, is that injury compensable?  Airline workers' comp lawyer Doug Landau thinks so.
If an airline attendant is injured while pulling an airline-regulated bag, during the course and scope of employment, is that injury compensable? Airline workers’ comp lawyer Doug Landau thinks so.

Airline attendant work is becoming increasingly more dangerous.

This is because carry-on baggage is getting heavier as passengers try to avoid checked luggage fees.  Plus, flight attendants are called upon to do more and more maintenance and custodial work on the aircraft, and the American population is becoming older and more obese.

Injuries on the job from falling luggage from overhead bins, crashing beverage carts, shoulder injuries from opening heavy aircraft doors, and falls down the jetway, are obviously covered under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation law.

Likewise, slip and fall, and trip and fall accidents on the runway, air operations area (AOA), and on slippery deicers, are usually considered “in the course and scope of employment,” from a risk inherent in the job.

However, in a recent case, a flight attendant’s Workers’ Compensation claim was denied by the insurance company when she tore a meniscus in her knee while turning and pulling her flight baggage.

This case will be tried later this summer, as the injured airline worker already had major orthopedic surgery on her leg, and has been out of work.

Airline injury lawyer Doug Landau suggests that had she just been walking down the terminal hallway and popped her knee, it would not be compensable under Virginia law.

However, as she was pulling the regulated industry flight bags — which are required by her job — the case should be ruled as compensable and her medical bills and wage loss paid.

If you or someone you know is a flight attendant injured while performing the duties of your job, and there are questions as to what laws apply, email or call Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once (703-796-9555).

Causes for Falls at the Airport

Passengers who are injured because of a defective surface, spill, or other hazard at an airport may be able to recover damages.
Passengers who are injured because of an uneven surface, spill, or other hazard caused by the airport or airline’s negligence may be able to recover damages.

Unfamiliar terrain, distractions, ever-changing signs, and uneven jetways present dangers to even the most careful airport travelers. However tripping or slipping in the terminal, in the jetway, or on the airport operations area (AOA”) does not necessarily mean the airport authority or airline is responsible for the injuries sustained.

For an injured airline traveler to recover damages for injuries sustained by tripping or falling, there must have been some negligence on the part of the airline or airport authority. The airline or airport authority must have been negligent in the maintenance or design of the jetway, tram, hallway, or airport surface.

Where an airline’s failure to clean, maintain, or warn of a dangerous condition leads to a traveler’s physical injuries, that individual may have a viable claim against the air carrier.

Because trip and fall accidents at airports are frequently due to a design defect in the surface, or a failure to warn of slippery or other dangerous substance, many cases are also against the airport authority. But passengers’ falls caused by ice, snow, or de-icer overspray on slippery steps can lead to successful claims for reimbursement for the medical bills, time off from work, and other harms where the corporate defendants know of the dangerous conditions and failed to take the appropriate safety steps or preventative actions.

It is critical in these kinds of cases to: get the names and contact information of the witnesses, take pictures, insist on a copy of the airport incident report, save the boarding pass and itinerary, and any other physical evidence to show the dangerous or defective condition.

If you or someone you know has been injured while traveling at an airport and there are questions as to what laws apply, email or call Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once (703-796-9555).

Airport Safety Violations can Kill Even a “No Fault” Claim

Airport Safety Sign
If an airport grounds crew member sustains hearing loss or is struck by a luggage tag, he will still lose his workers’ compensation claim if he is found to be in violation of a known and enforced safety rule such as wearing ear protection and/or a reflective vest.

While workers’ compensation is considered a “no-fault” system, there are instances where the culpability of the injured worker is examined. In airport injury cases, normally the negligence of the injured worker is often not an issue. Intentionally inflicted injuries are a topic for another day.  A flight attendant or ground crew member can be clumsy yet still be awarded full workers’ compensation benefits for an accidental on the job injury.

However, if an airline ground crew member or airport employee disregards a known AND enforced safety rule, and was injured as a result, he or she is not entitled to any workers’ compensation benefits under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act.

This is known as the willful violation of safety rule defense.

Insurance companies will raise this defense in situations where the airport or airline worker failed to use available safety equipment, failed to follow standard operating procedures, left his or her duty station, was intoxicated or under the influence of narcotics or other illegal substances while at work, etc.

According to airport injury lawyer Doug Landau of the Herndon law firm Abrams Landau, Ltd., this defense must be raised well in advance of court. The willful violation defense may not be sprung on the injured worker at the 24th hour. A workers compensation insurance company lawyer cannot raise this potentially lethal defense less than a fortnight before the court date.

If you or someone you know has been injured while working at an airport or for an airline, and there are questions as to what laws apply, email or call Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once (703-796-9555).

Workers’ Comp System Under Fire

Injured airline or airport workers often must battle the workers comp system to collect the benefits to which they are entitled.
Injured airline workers, airport luggage tug drivers, skycaps often must battle the workers’ comp system to collect the benefits to which they are entitled.

Recently, National Public Radio (NPR) published a news series condemning changes in our country’s workers’ comp system which have made it increasingly difficult for injured workers, including airline pilots, flight crew, grounds crew, tug drivers, airport skycaps and other airport workers, to collect the benefits to which they are entitled. Click here to read our analysis of the NPR series.

It turns out the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) agrees with most of the criticisms published in the NPR report.

An OSHA report released just a day after the NPR series ran says that changes in workers’ compensation have made it “increasingly difficult for injured workers to receive the full benefits” and that employers provide only a small fraction of the overall financial cost of workplace injuries and illnesses through workers’ compensation.

OSHA reports that workers’ compensation payments cover only about 21% of lost wages and medical costs of work injuries and illnesses; workers, their families and their private health insurance pay for nearly 63% of these costs, with taxpayers shouldering the remaining 16%.

Injured airline and airport worker attorney Doug Landau wonders why taxpayers should be saddled with these costs. “I and every other employer of more than three people pay into an Uninsured Employers Fund to protect injured workers whose companies do not have comp insurance,” notes Landau. “If the insurance industry is going to collect the premiums, the costs of benefits should not be foisted upon local, state, and federal governments.”

Other studies have shown that fewer than 40% of eligible workers even file for workers’ comp benefits. Landau notes the irony in that statistic:  “Insurance companies are collecting premiums and yet in 40% of case there is no request for comp benefits, and in many of the cases where there is a request, the carriers either deny the claims, fail to pay benefits or delay for so long that the benefit is illusory !”

If you or someone you know has been injured while on the job at an airport or on an aircraft, and there are questions as to what laws apply, email or call Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once (703-796-9555).

Why Do Some Airlines Insist on Termination as Part of a Workers’ Compensation Case Settlement?

Airport Operations Area
Risk averse insurance companies for airlines often insist an injured airline employee be terminated as part of a “full and final” settlement.

Why would an injured airline employee be let go after suffering an on-the-job injury?

The answer is simple:  Insurance companies for airlines are “risk averse.”

Experienced airport and airline injury lawyer Doug Landau notes that in cases where there is a significant permanent injury to the employee, several airlines will insist — as part of a compromise settlement — the injured worker’s employment be terminated.

For example, if a luggage tug driver injures her lower back in a crash on the airport operations area (AOA), and then seeks to settle her case for $83,000, the airline may want termination as one of the terms, arguing if she continues to work for them, and has a subsequent on-the-job lumbar spine injury, they will be “back to square one,” and out their $83,000 lump sum payment.

Airlines are increasingly asking for a “full and final settlement.”

Lawyer Landau notes that this enables the insurance companies for the airline or airport to limit their exposure. In other words, the insurance companies for the airlines and airports want to know they are paying a certain sum on a certain date, and they will not be revisited for further payments to the same body parts for the same person.

That is why it is critical for injured airline and airport workers to retain experienced, knowledgeable counsel, who actually try cases involving airport injuries, in order to achieve the best results under the circumstances.

If you or someone you know has been injured while working for an airline, at an airport, or on an aircraft, and there are questions as to what laws apply, email or call Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once (703-796-9555).

Airline Mechanic Injuries

Airline mechanics have noise distraction that may keep them from perceiving workplace dangers on the Air Operations Area
Airline mechanics, refuelers, maintenance workers and airport repair personnel have noise distraction that may keep them from hearing workplace dangers on the Air Operations Area (“AOA”)

Once a jet is aloft, we rarely think about the people on the ground who keep the aircraft well-maintained and able to keep its “on time” schedule.

“Airplane maintenance and repair is difficult and sometimes dangerous work,” notes airline employee injury attorney Doug Landau, and the normal “rules of the road” do not apply on the runways of Washington Dulles International and Reagan National Airports. The size of the large commercial aircraft and the heavy tools required to do the work can cause injury. In addition, airport mechanics sometimes have to work under extreme weather conditions on the “air operations area” (“AOA”). Slip and falls on the ice that accumulates around the hangers or runways is another hazard of the job.

Runways and airplane repair hangers can be very loud places, so mechanics often times do not hear warnings that would be effective in other workplace settings. The electric and other vehicles on the AOA can sound horns and flash lights, but the distractions in their unique aviation work areas may render them susceptible to on the job accidents.

Injuries from jet blasts, runway vehicle collisions, and heavy lifting have all resulted in compensable on-the-job accident claims that have been won by the team at Abrams Landau, the Herndon law firm known for helping injured airline industry employees.  If you or someone you know has been injured as the result of an airport terminal, 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.

Is a Physician’s Assistant’s (“PA”) Report Enough to WIN my Workers Comp Claim?

airline personnel on AOA
Airline workers injured on the job must seek medical care from a physician in order to have a compensable Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) claim under workers’ comp.

The short answer is “No.”

While an injured worker may not always be able to see his or her authorized treating doctor, and many “off work” or disability slips have been issued by physician’s assistants (PA), nurses, and other medical personnel, the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled just last month that a PA’s report is not enough for a permanent injury rating.

The appeals court upheld the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission’s denial and dismissal of a claim for permanent partial disability (“PPD”) benefits.  The ruling states that the injured worker did not show the 15% disability rating provided by a physician’s assistant had been reviewed by the claimant’s own treating doctor, or that the rating related only to his compensable knee injury.

In this case, the injured worker chose to have his permanent partial disability (“PPD”) claim litigated and then failed to meet his burden of proof to establish entitlement to PPD benefits. The trial judge in this Virginia Worker’s Workers’ Compensation claim refused to accept the note from the physician’s assistant as evidence of an impairment rating.

It is therefore clear that while physician’s assistants and nurses may distribute disability and “excuse slips,” for permanent disability ratings, a doctor must sign off on the final figures. Otherwise, injured airline or airport workers may find themselves with a valid permanency rating but a losing decision.

It is for the authorized treating doctors to render opinions as to causation, permanency and the need for medical care.  Other health care providers can help render care, but cannot render expert opinions that will stand up in a court of law. If you or someone you know has been injured while at work at an airport or aboard an aircraft and there are questions as to what laws apply, email or call the airport injury law firm of Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once (703-796-9555).

Airline Insurance Companies do NOT Volunteer What Benefits Flight Crews and Ground Workers May be due

Getting all of the benefits due an injured airport worker is all in a days' work for the Herndon law firm ABRAMS LANDAU
Getting all of the benefits due an injured airport runway AOA worker is all in a day’s work for the Herndon Virginia law firm ABRAMS LANDAU

Worker’s Compensation insurance companies do not volunteer to tell injured airport workers what additional benefits they may be entitled to, in addition to the basic medical care and partial wage replacement. Avoiding paying “full value” is what insurers do.  Every day.

Recently an insurance company for a local airport filed papers with the Virginia Worker’s Compensation Commission saying it paid what it owed.  The insurer indicated that it had complied with the judge’s decision after Herndon airport injury lawyer Doug Landau won the case on behalf of an airport ground worker.  However, the documents filed by the insurance company with the Virginia Worker’s Compensation commission were false. The injured airport ground worker had NOT been paid all the benefits that he was due. He was owed significant reimbursement for his trips to and from the doctors, physical therapists, MRI facilities, surgical center, etc.  The airport worker was also owed co-pays and deductibles from his health insurance that he had used prior to winning the case in court.  In addition, there were toll road charges, parking at the medical facilities, prescription reimbursements and other expenses for durable medical equipment that were not paid to the injured claimant even 9 months post- Hearing.

Lawyer Landau filed an Application for a Hearing in order to get this airport worker additional money for his permanent disability to his leg, as well as payment for these other items.  If the insurance company is foolish enough not to pay before coming before the comp judge, then this may be a fun Hearing for you to come and watch !

If you or someone you know or care for has been injured as the result of an airport terminal, 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.

Great Lawyers Get Off the Fence

There are lots of injury lawyers who look great sitting behind a desk or in front of a  library of books.

Particularly interesting are the advertisements of lawyers standing in front of the Supreme Court, even though they may not even go to try cases in their local courts!

bird on a fence
When dealing with a serious permanent injury, you need a lawyer who will actually get off the fence and go to court on your behalf!

Most people with a serious permanent injury need a lawyer who’s going to get off the fence and try their case in court.  The insurance companies know which lawyers try cases and which ones simply sit on the fence and settle their clients’ claims for bottom dollar.

In the context of airport injury and disability claims, experience with these kinds of cases enables the Abrams Landau team to efficiently and effectively help disabled clients and their families.

bird fly off a fence
Virginia airport injury lawyer Doug Landau, a frequent air traveler himself, has experience trying airline and airport injury cases.

Recently, the Abrams Landau trial team met with an expert witness to go over several files. Having both clients and retained experts help us prepare the case prior to filing a lawsuit enables us to “hit the ground running”.  This saves the client time and money, and enables us to conclude cases more quickly.

“We find that by retaining expert witnesses early, we are able to get much better results for severely injured airport workers, airline employees, and travelers who are harmed by the unsafe decisions of others,”  notes airport injury lawyer Doug Landau.  “We also learn from our past cases and are able to share with our clients actual decisions from judges ruling in our clients’ favor so they can see what facts are important and what issues are not relevant.  We also share information with other real trial lawyers to go to court on behalf of their clients, and this information exchange makes us a more powerful opponent on behalf of the people we are trying to help. Another reason to meet with a technical expert before filing a lawsuit is to determine what materials we need to get through pretrial discovery, so we can prove our clients’ cases to the satisfaction of judge, jury &/or even the DC or Virginia Workers’ Compensation Judge.  It is better to know what we need going in, than to be worrying about it like so many lawyers do weeks and days before trial !”

If you or someone you know has been injured at an airport, in an aircraft, or while working at an airport or aircraft and there are questions as to what laws apply, email or call Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once (703-796-9555).  You can bet we will not sit on the fence!