When an airline worker is injured on the job and receives comp benefits, their employer (or workers comp insurance carrier) can request that they see a doctor not of their choosing, and not for treatment. Under the Virginia workers compensation law, the comp insurer can have the disabled employee seen by a physician, once per year per speciality. For example, the compensation carrier can have an injured pilot seen by both a neurologist and then an orthopedic surgeon after an injury to their back. In a flight attendant’s herniated disc case, the insurance adjuster or nurse case manager can set both an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon and a neurosurgeon before authorizing an operation !
The workers compensation insurer can also have a flight attendant undergo a permanent partial disability evaluation as well as a Functional Capacity Exam (“FCE”). Injured flight crew members have a right to be reimbursed for their travel expenses for these appointments, and the insurance company (or the airline) is responsible for the medical examination fee. While the opinions of the airline employee’s treating doctors are given greater weight by the Deputy Commissioners of the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission, thorough exams by the doctors selected by the insurance company can trump unsupported records from the attending physicians. It is for these reasons that anyone permanently injured while working at an airport or onboard an aircraft should consult with experienced workers comp counsel.
If you or someone you know or care for has been injured as the result of an airport terminal, runway, hanger, 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.