Flight Attendant Injured During Commute

Article Summary:

  • Based on Illinois law, you are not covered under workers’ compensation when commuting to your domicile (no matter the mode of transportation)

  • Based on Illinois law, you are covered under workers’ compensation when commuting to annual training

Most flight attendants have probably heard enough work-injury stories from colleagues to know the basics of workers’ compensation coverage. Still, I think it would be beneficial to help give a timeline of when coverage for injuries begins and ends. The controlling case (for those interested) is United Airlines, Inc. v. The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, et al., 2016 IL App (1st) 151693WC. The case involved a United flight attendant injured during her commute to work. The question raised: Are flight attendants considered traveling employees when they commute to their domicile using flight benefits?

In short, the Court found that United flight attendants' cannot file a claim for workers' compensation if they are injured while commuting to work. Specifically, if you are injured during a flight from your city of residence to your domicile, there is no basis for a workers' compensation claim - even when in uniform.

note: this does not preclude you from bringing a personal injury lawsuit against United if there is negligence on their behalf.


So, When Does The "work clock" Start And Stop?

Generally speaking your injury will be covered under workers’ compensation (based on Illinois law):

If you drive to work - from the moment you step out of your car in an employee designated lot.

Cab / Public Transportation - the moment you step into the airport.

If you commute to work by flying - the moment you step into the airport on your scheduled work day.


What About Annual Training?

Unlike commuting to and from work, injuries sustained while travelling for annual training - and similar such mandatory events - are covered under workers' compensation. For simplicity, coverage begins the moment you leave your residence for annual training. In practice, there are additional factors you would need to discuss with an attorney.

For example: if you live in Phoenix and are scheduled for annual training in Chicago, workers’ compensation coverage would begin on your way to PHX.


Filing A Claim In Illinois

With very limited exceptions, United Airlines flight attendants and pilots can file a workers' compensation claim in Chicago, Illinois, no matter the city, state, or country in which their accident occurred. Similarly, this applies to accidents sustained while airborne.

Have more questions? Pick up the phone or send me an e-mail.