Injuries on aircraft are surprisingly (and thankfully) somewhat rare, but
they do occur from time to time. When these incidents happen, people wonder
if they can get compensation for their injuries. The answer, as with many
other injury claim questions, is “sometimes.” Learn what your
legal options are if you’re hurt on an airplane, whether you’re
entitled to compensation, and how a personal injury attorney can help.
Hurt on an Airplane by the Numbers
According to the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) less than 60 people
on average are injured every year from turbulence, while about 4,500 others
are injured when baggage falls from overhead bins, from slips and falls
while going to or from the restrooms. The numbers really are low in comparison
to the many tens of thousands of people who fly every year, and the majority
of these incidents result in minor injuries — bumps bruises, minor
cuts and scratches.
Those passengers hurt on an airplane who suffer more serious injuries may
have claim against the airline, the aircraft manufacturer, the FAA, the
pilot or other employees, or other sources. Against whom the claim will
be filed depends on the nature of the incident.
If the injury you suffered was the result of pilot error, a careless flight
attendant, ground crew or maintenance employee or the like, you may have
a negligence claim, during which you need to prove that the defendant
did not exercise their expected reasonable duty of care, and this carelessness
caused your injury.
It’s important to understand that airline workers are subject to
the “common carrier” standard, which means they are expected
to exercise a higher level of care than other people because they are
taking the lives of their passengers in their hands. This duty extends
to your boarding, travel, and de-boarding.
Acts of God
If you are walking to the bathroom, and the plane hits sudden, unexpected
turbulence which causes you to trip and fall, the airline may not be liable.
This is considered an “act of God,” and the airline cannot
be held liable for something they didn’t see coming. On the other
hand, if they could see that the plane was about to encounter turbulence
(which is often the case) and they failed to warn passengers to take precautions,
you might have a case for lawsuit.
If you were injured due to an air traffic controller’s error (two
planes colliding on the runway due to bad directions, for example), you
may be able to file suit against the FAA. However, filing suit against
the federal government is very tricky and requires specialized knowledge
If you are injured because some part of the aircraft was defective, whether
it’s the engines or an overhead bin, you could have a product liability
claim against the manufacturer of that part. This also requires a different
process and knowledge than a typical negligence suit.
Hiring an Injury Attorney
When you are hurt on an airplane, the best thing to do is hire a strongpersonal injury attorney. Your lawyer will be able to work with you to establish the details of
the incident and determine what kind of lawsuit (if any) you have. They
will then help you with the steps you need to ensure that you get the
full compensation you deserve under the law. If you need help after an
in-flight injury, call Dunnion Law for a consult today.