According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about 58 passengers are injured every year in turbulence-related incidences, and a number of other passengers suffer injuries as a result of baggage falling from overhead bins or because of slips and falls on the way to the restroom. Passengers may have legal claims against the airline, its employees, aircraft and component manufacturer or even the FAA. This article will discuss common in-flight accidents and the types of legal claims available if you are injured on a plane.
Most in-flight injuries are the result of luggage falling out of overhead bins. An estimated 4500 passengers are injured each year from falling luggage. Another common cause of injury is rolling food carts. Food carts can result in injuries for seated passengers when rolling by; such injuries include ramming shoulders or other body parts or even hitting passengers that are moving about the cabin. Some passengers suffer ankle and other injuries when they fall or bump into objects while going to the lavatory or moving about in the cabin.
Turbulence also causes a number of in-flight accidents annually. Bumpy rides cause unbelted passengers and crew members to be thrown from their seats. According to the FAA, the number of turbulence related injuries spiked in 2009 and 2010 with 75 injuries to passengers and crew in 2009 and 76 injuries the following year. In September 2015, 40 passengers and crew members were injured during a flight that encountered turbulence over the Philippines.
It should be noted that the specific legal claims available to passengers injured on airplanes often depends on what and who caused the accident. Negligence-based claims from the carelessness or inattention of an airline employee, such as a pilot, maintenance worker, ground crew member or flight attendant. In a standard negligence claim, the injured person must prove that the law required the defendant to be reasonably careful, that defendant was not careful, and as a result of the defendant’s carelessness, that he or she caused the plaintiff to be injured.
With respect to what a plaintiff needs to prove, it should be noted that airlines fall into a legal category called ‘common carriers’; common carriers are entities that transport the general public for a fee. The law imposes a heightened duty of care on common carriers, and as a result, they must act with a high degree of care and use the vigilance of a very cautious person in order to protect passengers from potential harm. The standard extends to the airline’s employees as well as ground crew, maintenance workers and the airline’s own safety inspectors. The heightened duty of care is owed to passengers while they are boarding the plane, traveling onboard the aircraft and when getting off the plane. Once passengers have disembarked, the airline no longer has a duty of care towards the passengers.
For more information on personal injury seek out an aircraft, motorcycle and car accident lawyer in Alaska.