Passenger injury claims against an Airline

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This category includes, but is not limited to, the following events :

Accident or injury suffered whilst boarding the plane.
Accident or injury suffered during the flight, e.g. slipping or falling over in the aisle, scalding injury, items falling from the overhead bins.
Accident or injury suffered when leaving the plane, e.g. tripping on the aircraft steps.
Injuries sustained during a bad landing or unexpected turbulence.
Developing an illness during the flight, such as food poisoning.
Physical assault by another passenger.

By far the most common cause of injury in air travel is baggage falling from overhead bins. Many people are injured in this way due to falling baggage every year. These accidents can cause serious and permanent injury to the head, spine and/or shoulders.

Other types of incident may include tripping over a section of loose carpet in the aisle, or being scalded by a hot drink which has been accidentally spilled over you. Your injury may have been caused by a member of the cabin crew or ground staff, or as a result of the actions of another passenger.

But remember, a claim for compensation doesn’t have to be limited to a claim for injury. You can also claim for your medical expenses, loss of earnings, legal fees and other expenses, such as 24-hour nursing care.

Burden of proof.

A burden of proof is what the plaintiff (i.e. the injured party making the
claim) must prove in order to win his or her case.

 For an international flight under the Montreal Convention (the treaty which governs the majority of international aviation accidents) the passenger does not have to prove negligence against the airline.

 It’s a no-fault system on international flights. However, like no fault that people may be familiar with in some car accidents, the damages on international flights are limited internationally to 128,821 SDRs (special drawing rights). This is not USD 128,821 however. An SDR is a basket of currencies which is measured against an international average. Right now, it’s about USD 177,000. The SDR can also be converted to its equivalent value against a number of Asian currencies.

So, if you’re injured today on an international flight you can get up to a maximum of USD 177,000 of damages without having to prove negligence against the airline. If your damages exceeded that amount however, and you didn’t want to accept USD 177,000 in full and final settlement then you would have to prove negligence against the airline. 

What to do when injured on board an aircraft

01. Seek medical attention

Cabin crew undergo first aid training and should be able to help.

02. Report the incident to cabin crew

The cabin supervisor is required to complete an incident form which records the event. Ask for a copy of the completed form (but don’t sign anything).

03. Report the matter

If it has not been possible to report the matter whilst on board then, at the very least, you should report any incident to the ground crew on arrival at your destination.

04. Keep hold of your travel documents

Don’t discard your flight ticket or boarding cards following the journey. This is proof of travel, and one of the first things that airline will ask you to produce when a lawyer submits your claim.

05. Take pictures of any visible injury

If your injury is visible (such as bruising or a scald injury) then take pictures. The chances are that the appearance of the injury may change in the days and weeks that follow, so update the pictures as required. Store the pictures safely in a designated file on your computer, and share these with your lawyers.

06. Witnesses

Passengers on board commercial aircraft sit in close proximity to one another. The chances are that your injury was witnessed by those sitting around you. Ask any witnesses if they would be willing to help, and obtain their contact details 

07. Try and take pictures.

If you were hit by a bag then take a picture of the bag that hit you. If coffee was split then take a picture of the immediate aftermath and (if you can) take a picture of the cabin crew that spilt the coffee, or at least get their name.

If you have been injured, or a friend or loved one has been injured or killed in an aviation accident, an aviation lawyer can help to protect your legal rights.

In the days and weeks following an accident, you may be contacted by various people asking you to make statements or sign documents. If you do so without proper legal counsel you may inadvertently waive certain rights, limit your ability to be fairly compensated for your losses, or even lose the opportunity to discover important information about th e accident. Seeking the advice of an experienced aviation lawyer should be one of your first priorities following an aviation accident.