Inflight Injury and Turbulence Attorneys
Helping Victims of Airline Negligence
Air travel is considered by many to be safer than riding in a car or a
train, but that doesn’t mean airline passengers don’t sustain
injuries — passengers sustain an inflight injury aboard commercial
flights far more often than one might expect. The Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) estimates that roughly 58 people sustain inflight injuries due to
turbulence every year. Other people are injured from improperly-stowed
baggage falling from overhead bins. In nonfatal accidents,
inflight turbulence is the leading cause of injuries to airline flight
attendants and passengers.
In some inflight injury cases, the airline, the plane’s manufacturer,
or even the manufacturer of a defective aircraft part can be held liable.
However, inflight injury cases are often complicated, with many different
rules governing whether or not victims are eligible to receive monetary
relief. In order to give yourself the best chance of recovering the maximum
compensation, you need to hire an experienced
aviation attorney to represent your claims in an inflight injury lawsuit.
If you have sustained an in-flight injury during a commercial flight, get
in touch with an aviation lawyer at Wisner Baum today to discuss your
case. Call (855) 948-5098 or fill out this form to set up a free, no-obligation
case consultation today.
What Is Turbulence?
Nearly all air travelers have encountered some form of turbulence while
flying commercially or otherwise. Most often, turbulence on a flight is
mild or moderate. However, there are times when turbulence can become
severe enough to cause injuries, including whiplash or even
traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Turbulence is air movement that often cannot be seen. It can be caused
by a number of different conditions, including cold or warm weather fronts,
atmospheric pressure, thunderstorms, jet streams or air around mountains.
Turbulence can even occur when weather conditions appear perfectly clear;
in fact, the aviation industry calls this phenomenon “Clear Air
Turbulence is considered normal and happens often, but it can nonetheless
be dangerous, especially for passengers or flight crew members who are
not wearing their seat belts. Under these circumstances, turbulence can
cause people to be thrown from their seats without warning.
It is for this reason that the FAA requires passengers to be seated with
their seat belts fastened when:
- The plane leaves the gate and as it climbs after takeoff
- The fasten seat belt sign is illuminated during flight
- The plane is landing or moving to the gate
Some statistics on turbulence:
Approximately 58 people in the United States are injured every year by turbulence while not wearing
their seat belts.
- In nonfatal aviation accidents, turbulence is the leading cause of injuries
to airline passengers and flight attendants.
Between 1980 and 2008,
U.S. airlines reported 234 turbulence incidents, which resulted in 298 serious injuries and three deaths. Of the serious
injuries, 184 were flight attendants and 114 were passengers. At least
two of the three reported deaths involved passengers who were not wearing
their seat belts at a time when the fasten seat belt sign was illuminated.
According to the FAA,
two-thirds of turbulence accidents occur at or above 30,000 feet.
Other Common Causes of Inflight Injury
Overhead Bins —
According to estimates, 4,500 airline passengers and crew members around the world are injured
every year when items fall from overhead storage bins. This amounts to
12 injuries per day.
Food and Beverage Carts — Food and beverage carts can ram into the shoulders, elbows or
other body parts, injuring seated passengers. Carts can also hit passengers
who are walking through the passenger cabin.
Falls — A number of passengers have sustained broken ankles or other injuries
after bumping into improperly stowed objects and falling while moving
through the passenger cabin.
Inflight Injury and Negligence
An inflight injury can be anything from a twisted ankle after tripping
and falling on the way to the restroom to slamming one’s head on
the passenger cabin wall during turbulence. Regardless of the severity,
passengers should be aware of their rights if and when they sustain an
Depending on how the injury was sustained, you may have a claim against
the airline for negligence. If your inflight injury was the result of
carelessness or inattention on the part of an airline employee (including
pilots, flight attendants, maintenance workers or ground crew members)
you may be able to claim negligence in an inflight injury lawsuit.
Airlines have a duty to prevent passenger injuries, and this duty applies
to airline employees as well. As “common carriers” (i.e. entities
that transport the general public for a fee), airlines and their employees
must exercise a high degree of care and take reasonable steps to ensure
that passengers are protected from potential harm from the time they step
onto the plane until they step off.
Below are a few examples of airline negligence:
- Flight crew leaving an object in the middle of an aisle, which causes a
passenger to trip and fall.
- Flight crew failing to properly close an overhead bin, causing a heavy
bag to fall on an unsuspecting passenger.
- Flight crew failing to stow bottles in pantry, causing them to fly out
during landing and hit a passenger.
- Airline failing to properly train personnel.
- Airline failing to enact policies to protect passengers.
- Failure to illuminate the fasten seat belt sign and simultaneously announce
over the P.A. system that the sign has been turned on and that the passengers
are required to return to their seats and buckle up.
‘Acts of God’ and Turbulence
Airlines aren’t liable for accidents that occur due to “Acts
of God,” or unforeseen and unpreventable natural events. Sometimes,
turbulence falls into this category, as it is not always possible for
an airline to predict and/or anticipate turbulence, especially clear air
In the event that a passenger is injured from turbulence at a time when
the airline and its employees exercised vigilance to protect those onboard
a flight, the airline cannot be held liable.
However, airlines can’t use the “Acts of God” defense,
for example, if a flight crew could have reasonably foreseen turbulence,
but failed to turn on the fasten seat belt sign and warn passengers. In
that case, the airline may be liable for resulting in flight injuries.