In general, some of the possible injuries people might sustain on international flights include:
- Knee and other bodily injuries caused by beverage carts slamming into passengers
- Injuries sustained from flying objects
- Head injuries from overhead bin articles
- Pressurization-related injuries, including hearing loss
- Failure to provide medical assistance on airplanes
- Slip and falls on airplanes, jetways, stairs or bridge-ways
- Injuries from crash landings or hard landings
- Lacerations from sharp objects
- Falling while embarking or disembarking the plane, resulting in sprains, broken bones, or cuts and bruises
- Turbulence leading to bags falling on your head, causing a concussion or other head injury
- Turbulence shaking passengers around violently, leading to back or spine injuries, or soft-tissue injuries such as whiplash
- Hot water spills or other service accidents resulting in burns
- Food poisoning stemming from an in-flight meal
Perhaps the worst possible outcome of any flight is a crash, which more often than not, results in fatalities. The families of people killed in international flight crashes may be entitled to recover damages through wrongful death actions.
Common Causes of Airline Injuries
The causes of airline injuries can vary widely. Injuries may be the result of an employee’s negligence, while others could be the result of an airline’s failure to properly maintain an aircraft or other equipment. Some accidents can simply be classified as “acts of God” that are beyond the airline’s control.
Some of the most common causes of airline injuries generally include:
- Employee error
- Mechanical failure
- Falling baggage
- Food or drink carts
- Slip and fall accidents
- Spilled hot beverages
Airlines are prepared to deny liability for most accidents. For example, many turbulence injuries are attributed to a passenger’s failure to wear a seat belt as instructed.
Determining the cause of an airline injury is not always easy, but our lawyers are prepared to conduct an independent investigation into your accident to determine exactly what happened.
Compensation for International Airline Injuries
International air travel claims are governed exclusively by the Montreal Convention, which only allows for the recovery of damages for bodily injury. Mental or psychological injuries, such as emotional distress, are not compensable unless they specifically resulted from a physical injury.
Under the Montreal Convention, a person does not need to prove an airline’s negligence for a claim of up to 100,000 special drawing rights (SDR). SDR are a unit of account for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and not an actual currency. As of April 2019 the IMF reported that 1 SDR was the equivalent of 0.539635 Canadian dollars.
After any kind of international flight injury, it is important for a victim to save all of the bills they incur as part of their treatment and recovery. Such bills will often be used as proof of the damages suffered and will be needed to successfully obtain compensation.
Rights of International Airline Travelers
According to the Government of Canada’s travel website, the rights of passengers in Canada are set out in an airline’s “tariff,” which is another name for a ticket and is an airline’s contract with passengers. A tariff contains the terms and conditions of an airline’s plan to deal with such issues as delays, denied boarding, and lost or damaged baggage, among other issues.
Air carriers are required to set tariff terms and conditions that:
- Respect certain legal requirements
- Are reasonable and fair
- Are applied the same way for everyone, as much as possible
The carriers also need to clearly display the tariff at their offices and on their websites and apply the terms and conditions of carriage as stated in their tariff. The Canadian Transportation Agency ensures carriers respect the rights of air travelers and keep their promises through two services.
The Agency offers an informal dispute resolution process that includes facilitation and mediation services. The Agency also offers a complaint process for compensation.
Montreal Convention and International Airline Injuries
The Warsaw Convention regulates liability for international aircraft incidents and was originally signed in 1929 before being amended in 1955 and 1971.
The Montreal Convention, formally titled the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air, amended provisions of the Warsaw Convention relating to compensation for the victims of air disasters in 1999. As of September 2018, there were 133 parties to the Convention, including the United States, the European Union, and China.
Under the Montreal Convention, a victim or a deceased person’s family can file suit against foreign carriers in their primary residence. The Montreal Convention establishes that airlines are strictly liable for proven damages up to 113,100 SDR, and an airline can deny liability for claims seeking more than 113,100 SDR by proving that the victim’s injury or death was not due to the airline’s negligence or caused by the negligence of a third party.
An airline cannot use this defense when a claim if for damages of less than 113,100 SDR. The strict liability component of the Montreal Convention was enacted to reduce litigation stemming from international flight incidents, but the Convention has been criticized for making purely psychiatric injury claims ineligible for compensation. Again, these types of damages must be proven to result from a physical injury.
How Our Lawyers Can Help You
Warnett Hallen LLP understands that many people who have been injured in international airline accidents suddenly face many new bills and have enormous financial concerns about hiring a lawyer. You do not need to worry about this with our firm because we represent injury clients on a contingency fee basis, which means that you will pay nothing up front and we only get paid if you receive a monetary award.
We will provide an honest evaluation of your claim and help you understand all of the options that are available to you. When you are experiencing issues paying for necessary medical treatment, our firm may be able to assist with treatment costs or arrange an agreement with your treatment provider to have the costs deferred.
It is important to keep in mind that there is a strict two-year statute of limitations on international airline injury claims. This makes it critical for you to involve a lawyer as soon as possible. Our partners have an impressive record of success on behalf of our clients and their families.
Manjot Hallen is currently the President of the Liberal Party of Canada. He has handled more than 1,000 cases, and is a member of the Canadian Bar Association, Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia, and the South Asian Bar Association. Paul Warnett is a member of the Law Society of British Columbia, Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia, and the Vancouver Bar Association who has represented clients before the Provincial and Supreme Courts of British Columbia as well as the Court of Appeal of British Columbia.
Warnett Hallen LLP was voted the winner of the Georgia Straight Best of Vancouver for Best Lawyer When an Accident Strikes in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. Our firm focuses on providing you with a one-on-one consultation to discuss all of the specifics of your case and address all of your concerns. We then provide regular communication with you while we work on your case so you are always updated on the progress. Then we negotiate a full and fair settlement or take your case to trial when necessary.