Airports are high traffic, high stress locations. They bring together thousands of people who are all on a schedule to navigate the issues of ticketing, security, and a maze of jetways to find the gate where their aircraft departs or arrives. Passengers are tired, stressed about connections, and are weighed down with luggage and demanding itineraries.
There are several types of injuries that can happen in the airport and that you need to be wary of. One of the most significant dangers are the carts that operate in the airport.
First, many airports allow motorized carts to drive in the jetways. These carts are not operated by the airport or by the airlines but are typically operated by a vendor with a relationship to the City or to the airlines. The vendor provides very little training to these cart drivers, and they often make mistakes and hit or knock down pedestrians in the airports. Specifically, it’s known that the brakes on golf carts are not precise. Often the drivers of the carts misjudge the ability to stop, or the room needed to stop, and hit passengers.
Additionally, the cart drivers often misjudge the amount of room needed to make a turn, and/or the speed at which they should make a turn. This lack of judgment in turns can again lead to pedestrians being hit, or passengers on the cart being thrown off of the cart during a turn. In some instances, the cart driver may be not be paying attention to boarding passengers and may start or move the cart before all passengers on the cart are seated, leading to people falling off the cart or being knocked down and injured.
Finally, the cart drivers are often unwilling to assist elderly or disabled passengers all the way to the departing gate. While the cart drivers are hired to provide this assistance, they often take elderly and disabled passengers to the top of stairways and escalators and tell them that they must proceed on their own down to the departing airline gate. Many times, the passenger who requested and needed assistance falls despite their best efforts. This is an injury that could have and should have been prevented by the driver of the cart, but the unwillingness to render the aid requested and deserved by the passenger results in the incident.
Cart injuries happen every day in the airports and result in a significant number of claims against the airport and the airlines that use these contractors.
What should you do if you are injured by a cart in the airport?
- Seek medical attention for your injuries. If you need medical assistance, most airports have emergency medical services (“EMS”) who can provide you with immediate care within minutes of a reported injury. If you don’t know who to call, then ask the nearest airline or airport employee you see to call for help.
- Report the incident to the airport police. In addition to EMS, the airport will have local police who will document the accident and who will assist in an investigation into what happened. When EMS is dispatched, also ask to make a report to the local airport police. The police officer will not only get the names of the persons involved for you, but will assist in preserving your claim by putting the City and the airport authority on actual notice of the accident and your injury.
- Get the name of the cart driver who caused the accident. If the cart driver will not give you their name, then take a picture of their name badge.
- Find out the name of the company who is operating the cart. You might find the company name on the driver’s uniform or on stickers or logos on the cart. If you cannot find it, then go to customer service for the airline you are traveling on and ask which company is operating the carts.
- Request a copy of the video from the local airport authority and/or the City that operates the airport as soon as possible. The City may have video of the incident by virtue of the cameras that they use for security. However, if you do not request this video immediately after the incident, the video will not be preserved. Note, even if you make a verbal request for a video, you need to follow up with a request in writing to document your request and to put the City on notice that they are required to preserve this piece of evidence.
- Even though the City is likely not involved in the claim, you need to preserve your right to make a claim against the City just in case. Most cities shorten the statute of limitations down to a very short period after the accident. In some cases, these statutes of limitation may be as short at sixty to ninety days. To preserve your claim, you need to write a letter to the City advising them of the date of the accident, a brief description of the accident, the entities and persons that you believe are involved in your accident (including the City and the airport authority), and the fact that you have injuries that are on-going and for which you are seeking treatment. If this letter is not something you feel comfortable writing, then call our aviation attorneys immediately. We will write it for you.
- Call the Stilwell Law Firm. We have been practicing aviation law for more than twenty-four years, and we know the claims you possess and how to assert them. The airport is a specialized location with complicated interrelationships between the City, the airport authority, the airlines, and the vendors and subcontractors providing services at the airport. The law that governs your claim may be a mix of state, federal and international law, depending on the circumstances of your incident. Attorneys who have never dealt with these claims do not know how to preserve your rights, assert your claims, or identify the parties who are responsible for your injuries. We do.
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