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State supreme court affirms rulings in favor of flight attendant

When a person suffers an injury on an employee shuttle, are they entitled to workers' compensation? One Pennsylvania case that has taken nearly five years to reach a resolution just got a unanimous ruling from the state's high court in the employee's favor.

The case involves a flight attendant for US Airways. She was based in Philadelphia in Jan. 2015 when she was taking a shuttle from an airport terminal to an employee parking lot. As she was placing her bag in a rack, she slipped in a puddle on the floor. She injured her foot and ankle when she fell backward and was unable to work for three months.

Her workers' compensation claim was denied because the airline argued that she wasn't working when she suffered the injury. It also argued that it didn't require its employees to park in the employee lots.

A workers' comp judge ruled that she was entitled to benefits since she was injured on a "specifically designated shuttle" for airline and airport employees immediately after her flight returned to Philadelphia. Therefore, she was still within the course of her work duties.

When the airline appealed that decision, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court upheld the judge's decision. U.S. Airways appealed that ruling to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The high court also upheld the initial decision. In the ruling, the court stated that it had "little difficulty concluding that the parking lot and shuttle were connected with, and thus integral to, US Airways' business operations at the Philadelphia International Airport."

Why the airline put up such a long, probably costly fight for a case where an employee was temporarily disabled for just three months is unclear. However, the multiple rulings in the employee's favor show that businesses' responsibility for workers' compensation can extend to injuries beyond those that occur specifically while an employee is in their workplace.

If you believe you've been unfairly denied workers' compensation, it's wise to seek legal guidance. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can help you fight for the benefits you need and deserve.

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