Airplane crashes are not the only cause of passenger injuries on aircrafts. In-flight accidents may be rare, but they cause thousands of injuries every year. These injuries are most often caused by:
- Struck-by accidents (luggage falling, rolling food carts)
- Slip/trip and falls (walking through the aisle, walking on loading ramps)
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that each year 4,500 passengers are injured by falling baggage and 58 are injured from turbulence. From 1980 through 2008, U.S. air carriers had 234 turbulence accidents, resulting in 298 serious injuries and three fatalities.
Who’s at Fault?
In-flight accident lawsuits can be complicated because a number of people can be at fault, sometimes simultaneously. The airline, its employees, and even the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can be liable for accidents caused by negligence. The aircraft and component manufacturers can be liable under a product liability claim.
- Under a claim of negligence, the plaintiff must prove that the law required the defendant to be reasonably careful, that the defendant was not careful, and that this carelessness caused the plaintiff to be injured (NOLO, “Law for All”).
- Negligence can be caused by the carelessness or inattention of an airline employee (pilot, maintenance worker, ground crew member, or flight attendant.)
- Example: In-flight turbulence causes an injury. This could be a negligence claim is it is found that the pilot was inattentive; failed to recognize turbulence ahead, and thus failed warn passengers to put on their seat belts.
- Sometimes the aircraft itself, or a part/piece of equipment on the aircraft, can be defective and cause an injury.
- Product liability can apply to the aircraft itself, parts of the aircraft (door latches, luggage bins), and even component parts (like loading ramps).
- Example: Luggage falls out of the luggage bin while the aircraft is in-flight and causes an injury. This could be a product liability issue if it is found that the latch that closes the bin was defective.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Thomas J. Henry is a personal injury law firm with offices in Corpus Christi, Texas and Houston, Texas representing accident victims nationwide. Our priority is to provide our clients with the best legal representation. Our experienced trial attorneys are committed to defending your rights in personal injury matters including defective products, trucking accidents, maritime accidents, and other catastrophic accidents.