Many lawyers will tell you no, or that it is too hard because of federal regulations. But, we are here to tell you yes. You can sue an airline if you are injured while traveling.
Your travel begins at the airport. Passengers frequently receive injuries due to falls on slippery surfaces, broken chairs that tip over, or being hit by an electric cart. The location of your injury will determine whether the airline, the airport authority, or a service contractor like a janitorial company are responsible.
The airport authority may own, operate, or manage the airport, but there are pitfalls to be aware of. Most airport authorities are local government entities, and they may be protected by statutes. Some of these statutes will also require you to give early notice of your claim, sometimes as quickly as twenty (20) to thirty (30) days after the incident. If you are injured at the airport, we highly advise you to immediately send an email or a letter (and keep a copy) to the local airport authority telling them about the incident and your injury. Or, better yet, call us so that we can provide notice and protect your rights. We find that adding the airport authority to the lawsuit is useful because their legal department will usually cooperate in helping you determine who the responsible parties to the lawsuit are. They are willing to help in this effort because many times they will also make their own claim against the airline seeking protection from the lawsuit.
If you are injured in a portion of the airport that is leased to, or under the control of, the airline, then the airline will be the central figure in determining who is responsible for the incident. The lease of the airport, or the control over a portion of the airport terminal, will generally make the airline responsible for any injuries occurring in this area. The lease or control of a portion of the airport can also lead to the determination that the contractors providing services to the airline passengers in that area are the agent of the airline.
Each airline uses multiple contractors at every airport, and you should include them in your claim. For instance, if you slip and fall at the airport, then you are likely going to be claiming that a janitorial company failed to warn about, or clean-up, a hazardous condition. If a seat collapses in a waiting area, then a maintenance company will likely be a defendant in your claim. If you are hit or knocked down by an electric cart, then the mobility services contractor will be responsible. If you injured while being pushed in a wheelchair, or transferred from one wheelchair to a specialized aisle chair designed for the aircraft, then the wheelchair provider will be responsible.
Most of the time the airline, the airport authority, and the service company (janitorial company, maintenance company, or wheelchair provider) all try to point the finger at one another. Essentially each claims to be innocent while blaming the others. It can be daunting to a passenger trying to assess his or her claim. But it’s a defense we face, and deal with, in every lawsuit. Most simply, this game of refusing to accept responsibility often requires us to add all three potential defendants to the case. Of course, you have to know who the potential defendants are in order to add them, but that’s where our experience and knowledge go to work for you. We know who to sue, and how, when you have been injured at an airport.
Given the amount of regulation of the airlines, you would think that passenger injuries would not occur. There is no amount of regulation that protect you from a flight crew who is having a bad day.
There are multiple opportunities for an injury to occur throughout the duration of the flight. Some of the most common accident and injury types include:
While sometimes these injuries are minor, leaving a person with insignificant bumps and bruises that are quickly forgotten about, many times the injuries can be serious. Indeed, a piece of luggage falling on a person’s head could cause a head or brain injury, spilled hot liquid could lead to serious burns, and other accident types may lead to back or neck injuries, fractures, and sprains and strains. Further, the above list is not inclusive.
We use the regulations governing the airlines to your advantage. The regulations define the level and quality of service that you deserve while traveling on an airplane. We compare what happened, to what the regulations say should occur, and show that the injury occurred because the airline’s flight crew did not live up to the standards required by the FAA.
Rules may be different for international flights. If you were harmed on an international flight, you should meet with an attorney immediately, because an international treaty may govern your case. Additionally, the location of where the flight originated and landed may determine jurisdiction for your case. Additionally, most international airline treaties attempt to limit damages that a passenger can recover, unless certain violations of the standard of care occurred.
Most attorneys do not know about the presence of the international treaties, or how they can change the law governing the claim. Our attorneys have written papers and taught classes on these treaties. Make sure you call the aviation attorneys at the Stilwell Law Firm if you were injured on an international flight.
Hiring experienced aviation attorneys who know the airport authority, know the airline’s legal department, and know their insurer is essential to the success of your claim. Retaining a lawyer experienced in aviation law will help you identify the responsible party and increase the chance of success for your claim when you are suing an airline.
Have you been injured at the airport or on an airline flight. Call the aviation lawyers at the Stilwell Law Firm to receive the help and experience that you deserve. Contact us for a free consultation today.