The recent dramatic malfunction of a United Airlines passenger jet engine that caught on fire before falling in pieces onto a residential neighbourhood is a reminder of the many potential perils of air travel. Thankfully no one was injured in this incident, but as we know here at Howie, Sacks & Henry LLP, airplane accidents such as the fatal downing of Ukraine Airlines Flight PS752, and the crash landing of Fly Jamaica Flight OJ256 can have devastating effects.
While many fliers take comfort in the knowledge that statistically a person is more likely to experience a car crash than an airplane crash, actually most airline injuries are the result of simple acts that take place while boarding or during flight on what is otherwise an uneventful journey. For instance, individuals might slip or trip on the ramp leading to or from the plane. It is not unheard of for overhead bins to pop open and for items to fall out onto passengers. People might be injured in a terminal while riding on a moving walkway or waiting in a lounge. Claims are not limited to the terminal itself, but could also include the intersecting roadways that are part of the airport’s private property.
Although these types of injuries don’t typically make the national news, they can have a significant personal impact on the affected individual. If an injury is caused by negligence, victims may have the right to make a claim for compensation. Fortunately, these types of claims are almost always covered by insurance.
In order for a claim to succeed, the plaintiff must establish who was at fault. In the case of a catastrophic crash, the passengers can hardly be considered responsible for pilot errors or mechanical failures and so their ability to sue is relatively straightforward. On the other hand, incidents such as trip and fall injuries can involve other parties such as the airport authority, airline staff, and other passengers, and there can be an element of contributory negligence on the part of the injured person.
Aviation claims are further complicated by overlapping sets of industry rules and regulations as well as treaties and international conventions that govern most aspects of the airline industry. For example, depending on the circumstances, liability and damages may be regulated by a patchwork of international agreements including the Montreal, Warsaw and Chicago Conventions. Factors such as the type of incident that caused the injury, the location of the incident (whether in the air or on the ground), and where the parties reside can all play a role in determining where a claim can be brought, and how much time you have to sue.
Whether an aviation claim stems from a multi-victim crash or a burn caused by a spilled hot beverage, it is important to work with an experienced aviation lawyer who can guide you through the complex legal system. At Howie , Sacks & Henry we have experience handling all kinds of airline injury cases, both large and small. If you have been injured as a result of an accident while travelling, contact Michael Henry (416-361-0889 or firstname.lastname@example.org) or Paul Miller (416-646-3901 or email@example.com) for a free consultation.