The statistics are clear that flying is much safer than driving. However, the numbers are cold comfort to the small number of people every year who are injured, often badly, in plane crashes and in airline accidents every year.
If you, or someone you love, has been injured in an airline accident, you need to understand your rights and how you can get the compensation you deserve.
How Airline Accidents Happen
Most airline accidents involve some type of human error. Not all airline accidents are plane crashes. Most injuries suffered because of airlines actually happen in the ground before the plane has left the airport or as it taxis back to the gate upon arrival.
Here are some of the common causes of airline accidents:
- Pilot error
- Equipment malfunction
- Defective safety equipment
- Failure to follow safety protocols
- Food or beverage spill not cleaned up
- Mechanical defect
- Inadequate security
- Ground crew error
When an airline employee is negligent and you are hurt because of that negligence, you may be legally entitled to damages for your injuries including payment of medical bills, lost wages, mileage to the doctor, property damage, and pain and suffering damages.
Types of Injuries in airline Accidents
Not every airline accident is a reason to bring a claim or a lawsuit. Many minor injuries are just a part of travel. However, when you have a moderate or severe injury that was caused by someone else’s failures, you have a right to be paid for your injuries.
Here are some common injuries in airline accidents:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Food poisoning
- Neck and back injuries
- Injuries due to lack of oxygen
- Sprains and strains of muscles
- Torn or ripped tendons, ligaments, and muscles
- Fractured bones
- Internal injuries
- Mental trauma
In serious airline accidents, a medical team will evaluate everyone as soon as it is practical. But, most airline accidents don’t involve a plane crash. If you suffer an injury in an airline accident and do not require immediate, emergency care, you should still seek a medical evaluation within two or three days of the accident.
Visiting the doctor shortly after a crash also helps you get documentation of your injuries and their causes. This will not only improve your healing process but may also help any injury claim you later make.
Special Duties of Airlines
Airlines are considered to be common carriers. This is a legal term that relates to any business that transports people for a fee on a regular schedule. Common carriers under the law owe their passengers special duties of care.
Airlines are responsible for making sure that passengers get to their destinations safely. This does not mean that the airlines are liable whenever something goes wrong. But, it does mean, that the law holds them to a higher standard of responsibility.
If the airlines and their employees do not follow safety rules and take reasonable precautions to keep passengers safe, they can be held financially responsible for the injuries suffered by their passengers.
What You Have to Prove to Win a Claim
Before you can successfully win a claim for damages in airline accidents, you must prove that the airline was negligent. The legal definition of negligence is four parts:
- The airline owed you a duty
- The airline or its employees breached that duty
- The breach of duty was the cause of your injuries
- You suffered damages
Even if you never file a lawsuit, the airline, or its insurance company, will want to be satisfied that your claim meets all four of those elements of negligence before they pay out on a claim.
What if the Airline Makes an Existing Injury Worse?
Airlines must take their passengers as they find them. This means that if a passenger has an existing injury or medical condition and the airline is negligent and makes the situation worse, the airline must pay for the worsened condition, even if a healthy person would not have been injured, or injured as severely.
Deciding Where to Bring a Claim
It can be difficult to know where to bring a claim for an airline accident. Typically, the best place to file a claim is in the state where the incident occurred. However, sometimes in the case of international flights, the claims can be brought in the state where the airline is headquartered or has a significant presence.
When the airplane is in the air when you are injured because of airline employee negligence, the claim is often failed in the state the airplane is flying over. But, each case has a unique set of factors.
You need to consult with a lawyer familiar with aviation injuries before deciding the best place to bring your claim.
Let us help you find a lawyer who understands airline accidents.
We can connect you with an experienced airline accident lawyer to evaluate your case and help you understand your rights.
Act now because time on your claim may be running out. We also handle EMS injuries.