An Illinois appeals court, reversing a lower court decision, ruled that a woman injured while piloting a skydiving plane was not eligible to collect workers’ compensation because she was flying on a volunteer basis at the time to gain flight time experience.
The Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District, Workers’ Compensation Commission Division, on Monday reversed a Henry County Circuit Court order allowing Hanna Larson to collect comp benefits after she was injured on June 29, 2014 in a crash landing.
Larson suffered blunt force trauma to her face and underwent two reconstructive nasal surgeries as a result of the accident.
An arbitrator ruled that Larson was an employee of Quad City Skydiving Center Inc., the owner of the plane, which allowed her to collect benefits. The company appealed the decision to the Illinois Workers̵7; Compensation Commission, which reversed it, finding that Larson could not prove she was an employee.
The trial judge reversed the Commission’s decision, finding that Larson proved that she had an employment contract with the company at the time of the accident.
In Monday’s ruling, the appeals court said the trial court erred in concluding Larson was an employee because she admitted she volunteered to pilot the plane because it allowed her to log flight hours for free.