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).