INTERNATIONAL IN-FLIGHT INJURY
Hire the attorney pilot, Steven Lamar Thompson, to seek compensation for death, bodily injury or causally related emotional distress suffered, and/or damage sustained to personal property (e.g., baggage and cargo) that occurred during an international air carrier flight.
Personal injury suffered, and/or damage to personal property that occurred during an “international flight” operated by an air carrier will likely be governed by the Montreal Convention, and may involve the FAA, NTSB, state law, and the FBI if a crime is suspected. A claim for damages may be based on a theory of negligent tort, heightened duty of care owed; intentional tort; and strict product liability. A claim may be made against each inextricably linked at-fault party that contributed to the cause of the in-flight bodily injury and/or damage to personal property. A claim may also include joint liability of the ticketing carrier and operating carrier in code-share operations.
In-flight bodily injury suffered, and/or damage to personal property that occurred during an “international flight” may involve multiple at-fault parties that contributed: the airport authority that operates the airport, it’s county government and its employee; the state; a maintenance company; air carrier, airline; TSA; Federal Air Marshall; airline safety inspector; airline flight dispatcher; airplane pilot; flight attendant; air traffic controller; airplane food caterer; airplane cleaner company; airplane mechanic; manufacturer, seller, and repairer of the aircraft or its equipment; airport and airline ground personnel; another passenger; related employee; or even the FAA.
For example, a claim may be made against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its failure to ensure that an air carrier’s approved Cockpit Resource Management (CRM) training contained all the required elements of 14 C.F.R. § 135.330, and but for the failure, and accident may not have occurred.
An in-flight bodily injury may be caused by: turbulence; a hard landing or at an unusually high speed; an overhead bin that flew open and dumped luggage on a passenger; a neglected food cart; a slip-and-fall in the airplane aisle or on ice while embarking or disembarking; a burn by hot water spills; food poisoning; a defective seatbelt that came undone during turbulence; a food service cart with a defective wheel that rammed into a passenger; and an assault or battery by another passenger, or airline employee.
In general terms, the Montreal Convention governs international air carrier accidents when a passenger is killed, sustains bodily injury (or causally related emotional distress), or their personal property is damaged, e.g., baggage and cargo. Article 17 paragraph 1 of the Convention states that the air carrier is liable for damage sustained in case of death or bodily injury of a passenger upon condition only that the accident which caused the death or bodily injury took place on board the aircraft or in the course of any of the operations of embarking or disembarking. The United States Supreme Court has defined the term accident as “an unexpected or unusual event or happening that is external to the passenger.”
In order to succeed in making a claim for an accident, a passenger must prove that the “accident” which caused the death or bodily injury took place on board the aircraft or in the course of any of the operations of embarking or disembarking, and that it was an unexpected or unusual event or happening that is external to the passenger.
As it relates to “in the course of any of the operations of embarking or disembarking” an aircraft, take special note that an airport authority and any company operating within an airport itself have a duty to ensure that both visitors and guests can use all facilities safely. However, the responsibility for the safety of guests on an international flight may differ once they have passed through a departure gate. After being checked into the departure area of an “international flight,” a guest then might lawfully be titled a passenger even when not actually being called to board an airplane. Here, by law, a passenger may be owed a “heightened duty of care” from both the airport authority and international air carrier. Additionally, when an accident that causes an injury occurs outside of an airplane (e.g., in the international departure area) it may invoke the purview of the Montreal Convention.