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In-Flight Accident Claims
Compensation for Passengers Injured in Flight on an Airplane
If there was an accident which caused you injury whilst on-board an aircraft, or while you were in the process of boarding or disembarking the aircraft, you may be able to claim compensation.
In fact, it may be easier to do so than you first think.
Accidents on board flights are not subject to the same legal rules as accidents which happen in England or Wales.
Unlike most accident claims, it is not necessary to prove negligence in order to make a compensation claim. If a personal injury takes place on-board an aircraft, or in the process of boarding or disembarking the aircraft, it is only necessary to prove that the claimant had “an accident which caused injury”.
For a free evaluation of your claim for an injury sustained on a flight call today or send your details through the enquiry form and we’ll call you back.
When an accident happens on a flight, who is responsible?
If you are injured on board an international flight, then accidents are governed by the Montreal Convention, which is a treaty adopted by several countries in 1999. Article 17 of The Convention covers liability for personal injury and provides that:
“a carrier is liable for damage sustained in case of death or bodily injury of a passenger upon condition only that the accident which caused the death or injury took place on board the aircraft or in the course of any of the operations of embarking or disembarking.''
In most accident claims it is necessary to prove negligence or a breach of statutory duty on the part of a defendant, but under the Montreal Convention it is only necessary to prove that the claimant had “an accident which caused injury” whilst on board the aircraft, whether it is in the air or not, or in the course of embarking or disembarking.
Burned by a Hot Drink on an Airplane
In the case of a flight attendant spilling a hot drink, we can probably establish that they acted negligently, but it is not actually necessary for us to prove that. All we need to show is that there has been “an accident”, which is clear in a case like that.
Injured by Objects Falling from Overhead Lockers on an Airplane
Another common accident on board an airplane is when a passenger opens the overhead locker and something falls onto them, causing an injury. It does not matter whether or not the item was placed in the locker in a negligent way or whether it was not secured properly etc.
All that matters is that the claimant suffered an injury as a result of an accident. This is very different to domestic law, where something which is a “pure accident” rarely gives rise to compensation – we usually have to establish that someone was actually to blame.
Making a Compensation Claim Under the Montreal Convention
If you have suffered an injury on board an aircraft or at an airport, then you should contact us as soon as possible in order to discuss whether or not you might be able to make a claim for compensation.
It is important to remember that a claim brought under the Montreal Convention must be brought within two years of the accident, and not the usual three years for domestic cases.
It is also worth mentioning again that these rules apply “in the course of any of the operations of embarking or disembarking.'' Therefore, this generous provision might apply to you if you have suffered an injury at any point after going through security at the airport as you leave, or before you go through passport control after you land.
The precise circumstances of each case are different, so if you have suffered an injury at an airport, then we will be able to discuss this with you and advise you exactly how the law applies to your circumstances.
How much compensation can I claim for an injury on a flight?
One of the key features of the Montreal Convention is that airlines now accept strict liability for accidents up to a certain capped amount, where an accident is proven.
The cap is set using a universal currency called Special Drawing Rights or SDR, set by the IMF, which is used to benchmark values against other currencies for consistency in international cases such as this. At the time of writing the cap is currently 113,100 SDR which equates to about £104,000, US$174,496 and €128,209.
The result is that most smaller claims are now settled out of court, reducing both the costs and the time needed to pursue them.
Where a passenger's claim exceeds the SDR limit, an airline can use the defense that the accident was not due to their own negligence or can attribute the accident to the negligence of a third party.
Common Causes of Accidents on Airplanes
Airline passenger numbers have increased in all but one of the last 15 years, and 2020 is expected to set a new record for the number of scheduled passengers globally.
While the number of major air disasters has decreased in recent years, there has been an increase in the number of smaller on-board and in-flight injuries to passengers.
This increase has been attributed to factors such as:
- carriers failing to enforce carry-on baggage rules
- higher costs for checked baggage leading to passengers taking heavier carry-on luggage
- flight attendants working longer shifts
Injuries caused during air travel can be painful, severe, and can most certainly ruin holidays.
If you have suffered a personal injury during travel by air, you should not be deterred from claiming compensation. The law is on your side.
Common causes of on-board or in-flight injuries include:
- planes colliding with terminals during docking
- heavy baggage falling from overhead lockers onto passengers
- laptops falling from overhead lockers onto passengers
- strong turbulence
- hot drinks being spilled
- slipping while disembarking the aircraft
Unfortunately, there is a lack of information about who is responsible when in-flight injuries occur and few people would know what to do if it happened to them.
In-Flight Injury Claims
Many passengers who’ve been injured during a flight mistakenly think they’ll get help by making a complaint in writing to the airline.
However, it is highly unlikely that you’ll be rewarded suitable financial compensation via this route. It is the airline’s insurance company that handles the real payouts, so if you have been injured in an accident on an airplane, you need to speak to a personal injury lawyer to make sure you receive the compensation you are entitled to.
If a passenger has been injured during air travel by anything that is out of the norm, then the airline is strictly liable. There is no need to prove that the airline has been negligent.
Contact the expert personal injury solicitors at PSR Solicitors for a free claim evaluation today or send your details through the enquiry form and we’ll call you back.
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