Posted On: June 18, 2010 by Steven J. Malman

AirTran Pilot's Widow Who Died While Riding as a Passenger in Plane that Crashed Can Pursue Workers’ Compensation Benefits

A state Supreme Court has ruled that the widow of a pilot who was died while riding a Comair plane that crashed can seek workers’ compensation benefits. Sarah Fortney’s husband Clarence Fortney, an AirTran Airways pilot, was flying to work when Comair Flight 5191 crashed on August 2006.

AirTran has contended that the pilot’s death was not work-related because while Fortney was headed to work at the time, he was not actually “on the clock” when the plane he was riding crashed seeing as during air commutes to and from their work pilots were not required to do any actual and were not paid for their travel time. AirTran has also said that it wasn’t responsible for Comair’s actions leading up to the plane crash that killed Fortney.

An administrative law judge agreed that AirTran was not obligated to pay Sarah work injury payments.

However, the Fortney family’s workers’ compensation lawyers kept pursuing her case. They argued that the AirTran policy not only let pilots live away from its Atlanta hub, but also that the airline company offered free or reduced air travel rates to the pilots on the airline’s own planes as well as on other airlines it had reciprocal conveyance agreements with so that the employees could get to their work base without having to live in the same area. Because Clarence Fortney’s work was based at the Airtran’s hub in Atlanta, he commuted eight to ten times a month between Lexington and Atlanta.

The high court agreed with the Fortney family and has reversed and remanded the ALJ's ruling.

Illinois Workers’ Compensation
Just because your work injury claim has been denied does not mean you are not entitled to Illinois workers’ compensation benefits. Don’t take a “no” from your employer’s insurer as the final answer and explore your legal options.

Court rules that widow of Comair crash victim should get benefits,, June 18, 2010

Read the Opinion,

Related Web Resources:
Your right to workers' compensation benefits, Nolo

Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission

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