Despite the fact that major airplane accidents have continued to decline over the years, the incidence of in-flight turbulence accidents have been on the rise. There are a number of reasons for this, but some of the more important ones include insufficient and ineffective execution of safety protocol during flights, and an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere as a result of climate change.
Even though air travel is considered to be the safest mode of transportation, this fact does not in any way impact on, nor does it correlate with the rise in in-flight turbulence and the associated injuries often associated with them. Sometimes, such injuries can be the subject of personal as well as product liability injury claims, and the plaintiffs can often receive compensation for such injuries, usually with the help of an aviation accident lawyer.
Litigating an In-flight Injury
Successful litigation of in-flight injuries is highly dependent upon the condition that the injury occured on board the aircraft, or while embarking or disembarking from it. This fact is guaranteed by article 17 of the Montreal Convention. In such situations, it usually will not be very difficult for the injured individual to receive the compensation that is due to them. Or where necessary litigate to force the necessary parties to compensate the victim.
Part of the successful litigation of such a case will involve the injured passenger showing that their injury was caused due to an unexpected event, completely external to the passenger; and that it was not due to any action or reaction of the passenger to the usual operation of the aircraft. For instance, if a normal descent of the airplane causes a passenger’s eardrum to rupture, it will not be considered as an in-turbulence injury. But if the drop was due to turbulence and the passenger’s eardrum ruptures, then the victim is subject to compensation for their injury.
On domestic flights, injuries usually are governed by the common law negligence, and thus, the injured passenger must show that the injury occurred for the most part because of an act of negligence on the part of the airline.
The Role of Aviation Accident Lawyers
Whenever an in-flight injury has occured, seeking the assistance of an experienced accident attorney becomes very important in order to ensure that the victim is properly represented and that he or she is not unduly taken advantage of by the airline and other relevant parties, or that they are cheated out of the appropriate compensation that is due them, or even worse, not paid anything at all.
Following are few of the common turbulence accidents that occur within flights:
- Falling Baggage:
Flight crews are responsible for securing all baggages on overhead baggage slots and bins, as well as guiding passengers on the best way to to store their excess luggage or carry-ons under their seats. Many airlines have started charging additional fees on checked-in baggage, which has often led to passengers overstuffing their hand luggage. This overstuffing is what often causes these overhead luggage bin to often break open during inflight turbulence, ultimately compromising flight safety.
Whenever these carry-on baggages fall out of these overhead slots and hurts the passenger, then the injured person can claim against the airline, provided the flight crew has allowed the bins to be overstuffed, negligently. It is no wonder there are several companies looking to find a solution to overhead falling baggage.
- Beverage Burns:
The safety regulations of airlines state when the cabin crew should serve hot beverages and when not to. Most airlines prepare tea or coffee at 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which can result in severe burns when it comes into contact with the skin. Flight passengers are at higher risk of being burned by these hot drinks during turbulent moments. The safety rules of airlines require the crew not to serve hot drink during turbulence as it may burn a passenger due to imbalance. In addition, these burns can occur due to the sliding off of cups or uneven trays. When passengers notice that a tray is not even, he or she must take extreme care and notify the flight attendant immediately. In case of a defective fold-down tray table, the passenger should document such with a camera if possible to support the claim of injury, in the event that it does happen.
- Aisle Trip Accidents:
Airplane aisles can also cause trip and fall injuries to passengers. This can occur even in smooth moments of the flight. And in situations of turbulence, such risk is increased significantly. This is because passengers may not be able to pay attention to the hazards that may be in the aisle as they will be more preoccupied with trying to balance themselves.
In such cases, the airline, by virtue of the negligence of their flight attendants, can be held responsible for any injuries that may result from any aisle trip related injuries.
- Service Carts Accidents:
A fully loaded meal service or beverage cart can often weigh several hundred pounds. Whenever these carts bump into someone, they can cause serious harm to the person. During in-flight turbulence, the risk of getting injured by one of these carts significantly increases, as these carts can get violently thrown about which then crashes into one or several passengers, or their contents such as hot drinks get thrown onto people.
- Accidents due to Lack of Seatbelt Warnings:
Seat Belts can prevent many turbulence-related injuries. However, if the crew fails to warn passengers and prepare them for turbulence, and/or there is no warning from the pilot informing passengers to fasten their seat belts, just before they hit turbulence, then the airline can be held be responsible for any injuries that occur.
Frank Urbanic is an Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorney who has successfully handled thousands of cases across the United States, in both state and federal courts. He will tenaciously fight for you from start to finish and do everything he can to help you reach the most favorable outcome possible.