Are Commercial Airlines Responsible for Aviation Accidents and Passenger Injuries?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, as much as 25 percent of Americans have some nervousness regarding air travel, and 6.5 percent suffer from aviophobia. Despite the fear and anxiety that air travel evokes in a majority of the population however, air travel is one of the safest modes of transportation. In fact, for every five million accidents involving vehicles in the United States, there will only be 20 accidents involving airplanes. Furthermore, the odds of dying in a motor vehicle accident in your lifetime are one in 98, while the odds of dying in an aviation accident in your lifetime are one in 7,178.
Still, air travel does pose some threats – such as turbulence, faulty overhead compartment latches, and narrow aisles – and should you sustain an injury while aboard an aircraft, it is important that you know your rights as a passenger. A Florida aviation and airplane accidents lawyer can help you evaluate the circumstances that lead to you injuries, and determine whether or not a personal injury suit is in order.
What Responsibilities Does a Commercial Airline Have to Its Passengers?
Under the Federal Aviation Act, commercial airlines and air carriers are held to extremely high standards of care for their passengers. Though passengers are not automatically insured upon the purchase of a ticket, airlines are responsible for even the slightest acts of negligence. Each airline has a duty to its passengers to exercise extreme vigilance in all aspects of air travel, including operation, maintenance and inspection, loading, and boarding of the plane.
However, just because an individual injures him or herself while traveling by air does not mean that the airlines are automatically responsible. If you sustain an injury during flight or boarding, you must still prove that the airlines’ employees demonstrated some act of negligence that lead to your injuries. Acts of negligence could include:
- Failure to ensure that all luggage is stowed beneath each person’s seat before takeoff, thereby allowing the existence of a tripping hazard on the way to the bathroom;
- Overloading the aircraft’s overhead compartments, which could cause one or more compartments to pop open during flight, thereby creating the existence of an overhead hazard;
- Failure on the pilot’s part to familiarize him or herself with all available information regarding flight conditions; and
- Failure on the ground personnel’s parts to properly inspect the airplane and ensure that it is in safe, working condition.
An airline’s duty to its passengers ends when the passengers disembark the plane. For example, if a passenger trips in the runway directly outside of the airplane and breaks his or her ankle in the process, the airlines are not responsible; rather, the passenger should look towards the airport itself as a potential reliable party.
Furthermore, there are some plane defects that even the most skilled inspection crew cannot know about, such as manufacturer’s defects. An airline cannot be held responsible should there be something seriously wrong with one of the plane’s innermost parts; the manufacturer, seller, or repairer, on the other hand, can be.
Additionally, while it is the pilot’s duty to familiarize him or herself with the route’s weather conditions, they cannot be held responsible for unexpected acts of nature, such as extreme turbulence, or a gaggle of geese that fly into the propellers.
Other Responsible Parties
While the airline itself may not be responsible for injuries sustained by passengers, connected parties may be liable. For instance, as we mentioned above, the manufacturer, seller, or repairer could be responsible should there be any major defects with the aircraft equipment. Additionally, the air traffic controller may be liable for endangering an aircraft’s crew and passengers should they fail to properly report any hazards along the route to the pilot.
Contact an Aviation and Airplane Accidents Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an aviation accident, you may be entitled to compensation. At The Pendas Law Firm, our personal injury lawyers are dedicated to ensuring that you receive proper damages for any medical bills, lost wages, or emotional pain and sufferings. Our firm services individuals in Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale & Miami.