Serious injuries from in-flight turbulence are extremely rare – and if you have ever flown, you know that most turbulence instances are relatively minor. However, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there are still an estimated 58 passengers injured due to in-flight turbulence incidents. These individuals suffer from injuries caused by falling objects, slips and falls, or trips. An injured passenger technically could file a claim against the airline for his or her injuries, the aircraft manufacturer, or even the FAA – but the compensation will depend on how you were injured, and the extent of your injuries.
Types of Injuries Associated with Turbulence
The majority of injuries that come from in-flight turbulence are associated with falling objects – typically luggage that falls from the overhead carrier and lands on a victim’s head or body. Another common cause of injury is rolling food and drink carts – these can injure extremities, or even hit a passenger in the head. Some passengers can suffer from ankle injuries, broken bones, or lacerations when they trip, slip, or fall while attempting to move around the cabin during turbulence.
When passengers are not wearing their seatbelt, they could be thrown from their seat in severe turbulence. In fact, the number of injuries spiked in 2009 and 2010, according to the FAA, due to turbulence. These numbers have dropped since then.
Filing a Legal Claim for Turbulence Injuries
There are claims that may be filed after in-flight turbulence injuries occur. These claims can include:
- Claims based on negligence. If the accident occurred because of someone’s negligence, then you may qualify for a personal injury claim against the particular employee, the airline, or the company employing the responsible party. You will need to prove that the individual owed you a duty of care and breached that duty, resulting in your injury, to file a claim.
- Carrier standard of duty was breached. Airlines have a “common carrier” legal duty that requires them to offer a heightened duty of care to their paying passengers. Airlines must use a high degree of caution to protect passengers; when they fail to do so, the airline could be liable for injuries – including those caused by turbulence.
- Defective equipment led to the injury. When bags fall from the overhead carrying bins, sometimes it is an issue of product liability – and the manufacturer of the plane or the company responsible for maintaining it could be responsible for the injuries that occurred from falling objects.
Turbulence, however, is not avoidable. The airline is not legally liable for injuries when they occur as part of mother nature. However, if the flight crew saw turbulence and failed to notify passengers, then they could be liable for injuries. If, however, the flight crew notified passengers in time and a passenger fails to buckle up his or her safety device or stop moving around the cabin, then neither the airline nor its crew is accountable.
If you were injured on an airline (turbulence or for another in-flight issue), then contact the attorneys at Malman Law today. We can evaluate your case for free and explore your options for compensation. Call us now to schedule a consultation at 888-307-2051 or fill out our online contact form with your legal questions.