While airplane crashes are extremely rare, injuries on the planes themselves are more common. Injuries that result from turbulence, other passengers, or flight staff can lead to legal liability. Even these types of accidents are rare, but they do occasionally occur, and you can sometimes assert a legal claim if you were hurt on an airplane.
The Federal Aviation Administration reports that roughly 58 passengers are injured every year due to turbulence accidents. Other accident causes may be the result of baggage falling from overhead bins, trips, and falls, or may be attributable to the carelessness of other passengers or employees. In fact, an estimated 4,500 passengers are injured each year because of falling luggage. Food carts can also cause damage by running into feet, arms, and shoulders. Simply moving about the cabin can be a dangerous endeavor.
Legal Claims for Being Hurt on an Airplane
The type of legal claim that you may be able to assert will vary depending on the kind of injury and the cause. In most situations, if an employee was careless or inattentive, then your legal theory is usually based on negligence. Under this theory, you must show that the employee was careless, reckless, or inattentive and that their actions (or failure to act) caused your damages.
Airlines are a “common carrier,” which essentially means that they provide public transportation for a fee. This designation means that they are held to a higher legal standard than other individuals or entities. They have a heightened duty to be extremely cautious and protect their passengers from harm. This responsibility also extends to employees as well. It applies when you are boarding the plane, traveling on the aircraft, and when you are getting off the plane. Once you are back in the airport terminal, the heightened duty no longer applies.
Legal Claims Related to Turbulence
Turbulence is a unique cause of airplane injuries because the airline and its employees obviously have no control over whether there is turbulence. If you are injured because of unexpected turbulence, you may not be able to assert a legal claim because the airline will assert an “act of God” defense. Essentially, this argument states that the turbulence was beyond their control and a force of nature caused the turbulence.
However, the “act of God” defense is not a complete defense, depending on the situation. In some circumstances, the pilots or other airline staff can anticipate turbulence. If that is the case, failing to warn you about the turbulence or failing to direct you to go back to your seat can result in legal liability. The staff can often foresee turbulence, but that is not always the case. In addition, you may also have a legal claim if the airline staff should have predicted the turbulence but did not.
Other Legal Claims Relating to Airplanes
You may have other potential legal claims if you are hurt on an airplane, including claims related to the maintenance or upkeep of the aircraft. You may even be able to assert a claim against the manufacturer of the plane if the plane itself caused your harm. A personal injury attorney will be able to you evaluate your case to determine the best legal claim available to your situation.