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Turbulence injuries: Who is responsible?

On May 6, passengers on a British Airways flight from London to Tampa Bay, Florida, encountered a terrifying ordeal. A severe episode of turbulence caused the flight to drop without warning, causing several people to hit the ceiling.

Video taken immediately afterward showed suitcases and other personal items scattered across the cabin while passengers stared around in shock. When the aircraft landed in Tampa Bay, paramedics examined passengers as a precaution. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt.

With classes now over, many families are planning their summer vacations. Some of them will travel by plane to their holiday destination. If you are injured by turbulence or another phenomenon while flying, then can you file a claim against anyone?

Possibly. It depends on the circumstances that caused your injuries.

The airline

While airlines are not liable for unforeseeable events like lightning bolts, federal aviation laws require carriers and crew to take all reasonable steps to keep passengers safe. Examples include:

  • Warning people of upcoming (and foreseeable) turbulence
  • Illuminating the seat belt sign
  • Confirming that all overhead bins are tightly closed.

While you cannot sue the airline because the plane encountered turbulence, you may have a claim for negligence if the flight crew knew that turbulence was likely to occur but did not warn you.

If an employee caused your injury by bumping into you with a heavy refreshment cart, then failing to ensure that all overhead compartments were tightly closed, or another act of carelessness, strict liability laws may enable you to sue the airline for the actions of its flight crew.

Product manufacturers

If a defective product caused you to be injured when the plane encountered turbulence, then you might have a product liability case against the manufacturer. Examples include:

  • The lid on the overhead bin above your seat had a defective latch that opened, sending heavy luggage onto you.
  • Your seat belt had a defective buckle that came undone when the plane shook, causing you to fly out of your seat.
  • A food cart had a defective stopping mechanism, causing it to roll down the aisle and injure your knee

If the neglect by airline maintenance personnel caused the product to become defective, then you might have a case against the airline instead.

Contact a New York personal injury attorney

We hope that all instances of air travel will be a safe and enjoyable experience for you and your family, but if you have an experience like those passengers on the British Airways flight, then contact a New York personal injury attorney for assistance in pursuing a claim. Your attorney will help you identify the responsible party and hold them accountable so that you get the compensation you are entitled to.

Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx, NY accident and personal injury lawyer with over 35 years of legal experience. If you were injured, then contact his office at 718-329-9500. Mr. Lutzky offers free in-person initial consultations. Visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com to learn more.

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