We’ve been fortunate enough to help hundreds of flight attendants with Illinois workers’ compensation cases. Their cases are often unique because of the fact that while flight attendants have a home base, they don’t really have an office location. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of calls I’ve received from flight attendants who were hurt in an office setting. Most of them sustain injuries either while on a layover (yes those are covered typically even if they are off the clock) or while in air.
The biggest cause of in flight accidents for flight attendants is turbulence. We also see a lot of injuries reported from when they help passengers with luggage or sadly when unruly passengers get violent. A recent caller to my office is a Southwest flight attendant who hurt her back when unexpected turbulence caused her to lose balance as she was walking down the aisle. The flight originated out of the east coast and the accident was in the air. She wanted to know if she could bring the case in Illinois because she lives here.
The good news in this case is that she could because her home terminal is Chicago Midway. That alone is enough to qualify for jurisdiction under Illinois law. The accident technically happened nowhere because it was in the sky, so another way to qualify for Illinois benefits is based on where you are considered to primarily work out of.
Had she not been based here, there is another way we would have been able to help her. If her “contract for hire” took place in Illinois, then under Illinois workers’ compensation law, she is entitled to bring her case here. With flight attendants, it’s not uncommon for home terminals to change a lot. Maybe they moved. Maybe a staffing issue requires them to change their base.
But if when they were originally hired it happened in Illinois, that might be enough to make the case here. And in most instances that’s a huge benefit as states like Texas, Arizona, Indiana and others are terrible for injured workers.
When we say that they were hired here, we are referring to the last act required to make them an employee. That’s usually a physical or drug screen, but can also just be the interview experience or when and where you fill out necessary paperwork. The big exception to that is for United flight attendants. With a possible exception to those who used to be with Continental, most United flight attendants (and pilots) through their union contract can bring their cases here.
The good news is that because we’ve helped with so many of these cases, even if we can’t help you here, we know great work comp lawyers in other states too. If you’d like a free consultation to discuss your case, call us anytime at 888-705-1766.