When traveling by air, passengers have an expectation that their safety will be protected throughout the journey. However, accidents and injuries are known to occur during flights, leaving individuals wondering about their legal rights and options for compensation. If you suffered a serious in-flight injury that appears to have been caused by the careless or reckless actions of the airline company, it is important to understand your rights and legal options.
In-Flight Injuries that Someone May Suffer While on a Plane
To effectively handle an in-flight injury, it is important to recognize the different types of injuries that can occur during a flight. Understanding these types of injuries can help you determine the appropriate course of action and seek the necessary medical assistance.
- Turbulence-related injuries: Turbulence can cause passengers to be thrown about the cabin, resulting in sprains, strains, fractures, or head injuries.
- Slip and fall injuries: Slippery floors, poorly maintained walkways, or objects left in the aisle can lead to slips, trips, and falls, causing injuries such as broken bones, sprains, or concussions.
- Overhead bin injuries: Overhead bins can become dislodged or improperly secured, causing items to fall and injure passengers.
- Food and beverage service injuries: Hot beverages, improperly handled food carts, or negligent crew members can cause scalding, burns, or cuts.
Common Causes of In-Flight Injuries
- Turbulence: As mentioned above, turbulence is one of the primary culprits of in-flight injuries. Each year, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), close to 60 passengers suffer injuries in turbulence-related, in-flight incidents. For context, turbulence is an irregular motion that occurs while a plane is in the air. Turbulence is oftentimes sudden, and the irregular movement can lead to passengers suffering lacerations, bruises, broken bones, torn ligaments, etc. When a commercial airplane is tossed around on the irregular air current, people can be jostled in their seats, the aisle, or the lavatory. In some instances, overhead luggage can become dislodged and lead to significant head and neck injuries. While pilots cannot entirely avoid turbulence, they may be able to predict upcoming obstacles to warn passengers of a potentially bumpy ride.
- Preventable Errors by Airline Staff: Human error and negligent conduct can possibly be a factor in the occurrence of in-flight injuries. Airlines are considered to be “common carriers” which means they transport members of the general public for a fee. As a common carrier, airlines must adhere to a heightened duty of care. This means airlines, including pilots, flight attendants, ground crew, etc. are legally obligated to act with a high degree of care. In addition, they must exercise a level of vigilance to protect passengers from potential harm. Airlines must exercise this heightened duty of care to passengers while they are boarding the commercial airplane, while passengers are on board the aircraft, and while they are departing from the plane.
- Defective Part or Faulty Equipment: There are instances where an in-flight injury can be linked back to an issue with the aircraft itself, or parts or equipment on the aircraft. If a passenger is seriously harmed by a defective aircraft or piece of equipment, this may provide a legal basis to pursue a claim for financial restitution. For example, if a design defect causes an overhead bin latch to come loose mid-flight, a passenger seriously harmed by a piece of falling luggage may have grounds to file a claim against the manufacturer of the overhead bin.
In-Flight Injuries on Airplanes Compensation
As mentioned, airlines possess a legal duty to ensure the safety and well-being of their passengers. If you have been injured due to the negligence or misconduct of the airline or its staff, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost income (including diminished earning capacity), pain and suffering, and any other damages suffered as a result of the accident.
To determine the airline’s liability, it is advisable to consult with a knowledgeable in-flight injury lawyer. They will be able to review the details of your case, assess the strength of your claim, and guide you through the legal process.
Keep in mind that airlines often have teams of lawyers working to protect their interests. Having a knowledgeable and experienced attorney on your side will level the playing field and ensure that your rights are fully protected.
Steps to Take Following an In-Flight Injury
Experiencing an in-flight injury can be a frightening and stressful situation. However, it is crucial to remain calm and take immediate action to protect your legal rights and ensure your well-being. Here are the steps you should take if you find yourself injured during a flight:
- Seek medical attention: Your health and safety should be your top priority. Notify a flight attendant about your injury, and ask for any necessary medical assistance. If the injury is severe or life-threatening, the pilot may need to divert the flight for an emergency landing.
- Gather evidence: Collect any evidence that could support your claim, such as photos, witness statements, or medical records. This evidence will be crucial when seeking compensation for your injuries.
- Document the incident: As soon as possible, write down a detailed account of how the injury occurred. Include your seat number, the time of the incident, and any witnesses present. Take photographs of your injuries, the area where the incident happened, and any factors that may have contributed to the injury.
- Report the incident to the airline: Once you have received medical attention, inform the airline of the incident. Ask for a copy of the incident report, and make sure all details are accurately documented.
- Consult with an experienced in-flight injury attorney: To protect your rights and navigate through the complex legal process, it is advisable to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. They can provide guidance on the next steps to take and help you build a strong case.
Have Questions? Speak to an Experienced In-Flight Injury Lawyer Today
If you or a family member suffered a serious in-flight injury, there are probably a myriad of questions you want answered. Who is responsible for covering your medical expenses? What happens if you need to take time off work to recuperate from your in-flight injury?
The airplane accident injury attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger are here to help and can offer guidance on what steps you should take following an in-flight injury. Our team of seasoned personal injury attorneys understand the nuances of federal regulations and the legal prerequisites necessary for a viable in-flight personal injury claim. Contact our office today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.