An airport worker fell and injured his leg as he was walking through the terminal after clocking out for the day. Can he collect benefits even though the fall technically occurred after hours?
Felix Aquino was a baggage handler for American Airlines at the company’s Miami airport terminal.
He clocked out for the day on March 18, 2019, and walked through security to the terminal’s upper level where he intended to get transported to his vehicle via the parking-lot shuttle bus.
Aquino injured the calf muscle in his right leg as he stepped off a curb near the bus stop. He reported the injury at work the next day and visited an on-site clinic for medical treatment.
The clinic gave Aquino pain medication, crutches and a cam boot with instructions to stay home and rest. He was also told to get an MRI of his injury.
After getting the MRI, Aquino was referred to an orthopedist.
Judge: Going and coming rule applies
Aquino had also filed a workers’ compensation claim, which American Airlines denied. Later, he filed petitions for benefits, which were also denied.
The case went before a judge of compensation claims, who also denied the claim because of the “going or coming” rule that prevents employers from being held liable for employee injuries that occur going to, or coming home from, the workplace.
On appeal, Aquino argued his injury fell under an exception to the going or coming rule because it occurred between two parts of his employer’s premises.
He said his injury occurred on his employer’s property and so was within the course and scope of his employment.
Sidewalk wasn’t owned, maintained by airline
However, the First District Court of Appeal for the State of Florida found that the area where Aquino fell was a public area that served as a public sidewalk.
That sidewalk wasn’t owned, leased or maintained by American Airlines. Just because American Airlines employees traveled through those public areas and parked in non-exclusive airport-employee parking didn’t mean they qualified as American Airlines’ premises.
So the appeals court affirmed the lower court decision and denied Aquino’s claim.