Traveling by air is known to be relatively safer compared to traveling by land. However, in-flight injuries do occur as well. It could be a minor one – such as twisting one’s ankle when walking towards the bathroom, or severe ones such as head and neck injuries during violent turbulence. If you have been injured during the flight, then it is imperative that you know your rights as an injured victim. There may be instances when the airline company or its employees are responsible for the injuries, and so a legal course of action may need to be taken to determine the liability, the damages and the corresponding compensation you are due.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR IN-FLIGHT INJURIES?
Airlines operate with a higher standard of care for their employees and passengers alike. The Federal Aviation Act governs them, and this requires airlines to exercise such care in all of its operations. Even if the airline is not necessarily an insurer of the safety of its passengers, it holds responsibility for the behavior of its employees – particularly negligence, especially when they do not act with reasonable care when they do their work, and causing injuries to passengers as a result.
However, remember that an injury by itself is not sufficient to point the finger to the airline company. There needs to be proof that the airline was responsible, or contributed to the cause of the injuries.
THE DUTY OF THE AIRLINE AND ITS EMPLOYEES
The airline is expected to exercise proper vigilance and care in all aspects – including maintenance, operation, loading and boarding of the plane, as well as inspection. As an example, it is the responsibility of the airline to ensure that passengers are able to board the plane safely, without causing any accident. Because of this, the airline may also be held responsible for any injuries caused by overloading the plane. Moreover, the pilot is overall responsible for the safe operation and maneuvering of the aircraft, and is expected to know the conditions of the path they are going through, and their destination. The ground inspection crew is responsible for ensuring that the aircraft is in excellent working condition and is fit to fly. However, take note that the airline will not be held liable for any defects found later on that could not have been discovered by inspection.
Note however, that the airline’s responsibility ends as soon as the passengers disembark the plane. Furthermore, they may not be held liable for any consequences coming from inevitable, unavoidable incidents or from an act of God. Furthermore, if the injuries were caused by human error but were only results of unforeseen events, then the victims may find it rather difficult to claim damages as well. As an example, a bolt of thunder hits the plane and damages its engines. However, remember that pilots should be aware of the weather conditions of their path and destination.
If you have questions about aviation accidents, or have experienced injuries during your flight that you believe are caused by the airline’s negligence, contact The Kyle Law Firm so we can discuss your options.