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I Was Hurt on an Airplane - What Can I Do?

I Was Hurt on an Airplane - What Can I Do?

Posted By The Dunnion Law Firm || 3-Jan-2017

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.

FAA Claims

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 and procedures.

Product Liability

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.