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Airplane Passenger Injuries

HandelontheLaw.com Staff Writer

Wednesday, January 15, 2014



Airplane Passenger Injuries
Aviation Law

“Aviation Law” is a complex combination of Federal, State and International laws controlling every aspect of commercial and non-commercial air travel. Considering “every aspect” of air travel, these laws govern providers of air travel, including pilots, maintenance, security and air traffic controllers, as well as service purchasers, such as couriers and passengers. On the Federal level, agencies governing air travel include the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). States also pass aviation laws that are consistent with Federal Aviation Law. Finally, due to international air travel, nations have also agreed on laws governing airlines and passengers. Given all the potential parties and jurisdictions involved in the injury or death of an airline passenger, the resulting lawsuits can be quite complicated.

What, then, should you do if you are injured while traveling by airline?

First, BEFORE any accident can occur anywhere, you should carry: a cell phone with a camera and a clearly labeled list of emergency contacts (including their stored phone numbers, of course), so others can quickly dial them if you are unconscious; your driver’s license or equally acceptable ID; a copy of your medical insurance card with coverage information and ID number; pen and paper to take information; a card with emergency contact names and phone numbers; a card with information about any allergies or other medical conditions you have, in case you’re unconscious after the injury.

Second, if you’re injured, you should immediately seek medical attention. This, of course, will affect your ability to carry out any other post-injury steps. In conjunction with your treatment, you should also obtain and keep all medical records, the treating persons’/organizations’ names, addresses, phone numbers, and records of all expenses related to your injuries.

Third, obtain information about other people at the scene of the injury, including any person who might have caused your injury and any witness. Regarding each person, obtain information such as: name; address, home phone number; work phone number; cell phone number; email address; write down any comments made by these individuals.

Fourth, write down the exact location of the incident and how it happened, including as many details as possible.

Fifth, take photographs of physical injuries, each person involved, each witness, any defect that caused the injury, the entire scene, anything – anything - that will help show the entire context of the incident.

Sixth, as soon as possible, you should hire a lawyer who specializes in Aviation Law and Aviation Litigation. Though I am necessarily generalizing, you should expect that a suit for injuries sustained by an airline passenger will require extensive knowledge and experience about: aircrafts, their manufacture, maintenance and use; federal, state and international aviation laws; federal, state and international laws regarding personal injury/negligence and product liability; and insurance law. Though injured on an airline, your legal remedies can be traditional in some respects, as they often employ standard theories of personal injury/negligence and product liability. Nevertheless, this is a highly specialized area of law requiring deep knowledge over several spheres, so your choice of a lawyer might make or break your case. After consulting/retaining your lawyer, you and your lawyer will make several key decisions, discussed here in no particular chronology.

Seventh, make copies of all information/documentation/pictures you’ve gathered, give copies to your attorney and keep copies in your own expandable file folder.

Eighth, you and your lawyer will deal with the parties’ insurance companies and pertinent federal/state/international agencies.

Ninth, you and your lawyer will have to determine the persons/organizations to be sued, which could include such people/organizations as: the airplane’s manufacturer; the airplane’s seller; the airline itself, for its own acts/omissions and/or those of an employee; the aircraft maintenance supplier; the air traffic controller; and the federal government.

Tenth, you and your lawyer will need to determine the theor(y)(ies) of liability, usually including negligence and/or product liability and possibly developing into different reasoning depending on the parties being sued.

Eleventh, you and your lawyer will need to decide in which jurisdiction(s) your case(s) will be brought, sometimes set by law and/or by determining the most advantageous jurisdiction(s) for your case(s). This can be a more complicated process than you might first imagine, as the jurisdictions of the federal government and of several states and/or countries may be involved. As you can see, your injury as an airline passenger could involve multiple theories against multiple parties in multiple jurisdictions; consequently, your selection of and cooperation with a lawyer specializing in Aviation Law and Litigation is key.


DO’S AND DON’TS

DON’T be intimidated by the process or the people.

DO carry:
a. a cell phone with a camera and a clearly labeled list of emergency contacts;
b. your driver’s license or equally acceptable ID;
c. a copy of your medical insurance card with coverage information and ID number;
d. pen and paper to take information;
e. a card with emergency contact names and phone numbers;
f. a card with information about any allergies or other medical conditions you have

DO immediately seek medical attention.

DO obtain copies of all medical records;

DO keep records of the treating persons’/organizations’ names, addresses, phone numbers.

Do keep records of all expenses related to your injuries.

DO obtain information about other people at the scene of the injury, including any person who might have caused your injury and any witness.

DO write down the exact location of the incident and how it happened, including as many details as possible.

DO take photographs of physical injuries, each person involved, each witness, any defect that caused the injury, the entire scene, anything – anything - that will help show the entire context of the incident.

DO hire a lawyer who specializes in Aviation Law and Aviation Litigation.

DO make copies of all information/documentation/pictures you’ve gathered, give copies to your attorney and keep copies in your own expandable file folder.

DO use your lawyer’s assistance to deal with the parties’ insurance companies and pertinent federal/state/international agencies.

DO determine the persons/organizations to be sued.

DO determine the theor(y)(ies) of liability.

DO decide the jurisdiction(s) in which your case(s) will be brought.

By Kathy Catanzarite

[Note from HandelontheLaw.com: This article is to be used as an educational guide only and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers of this article are advised to seek an attorney if a legal consultation is needed. Laws may vary by state and are subject to change, thus the accuracy of this information cannot be guaranteed. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk. Neither HandelontheLaw.com, or any of its affiliates, shall have any liability stemming from this article.]



Source: Kathy Catanzarite - Handelonthelaw.com Staff Writer

Note from HandelontheLaw.com: This article is to be used as an educational guide only and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers of this article are advised to seek an attorney if a legal consultation is needed. Laws may vary by state and are subject to change, thus the accuracy of this information can not be guaranteed. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk. Neither the author, handelonthelaw.com, or any of its affiliates shall have any liability stemming from this article.





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