Aeroplane accidents and illness claims

Many of us travel by air without giving it a second thought. We have become accustomed to the flexibility, price and convenience of flying to the extent that we take it for granted.

Flying is one of the safest forms of travel but things can and do go wrong.

There are laws and guidelines for airline operators and other related bodies to ensure our care and safety whilst flying but if these fail then the consequences can be serious even fatal. The physical and psychological fall out from this affects both the victims and their families.

What does aeroplane accidents and illness claims include?

You may assume that this personal injury claims category only includes the large scale disasters such as plane crashes that are reported in the media.

But it covers much more than that.

This category includes:

  • Accident or injury incurred whilst boarding the plane
  • Accident or injury incurred during the flight, e.g. slipping or falling over in the aisle.
  • Accident or injury incurred when leaving the plane, e.g. tripping on the steps.
  • Developing an illness during the flight
  • Physical assault

This category includes plane crashes and on-board incidents. Plane crashes often result in a large number of fatalities which means that there will be a large number of claims. These will be brought about by the surviving members of the families.

Making a claim for aeroplane accidents and illness

If you or a member of your family has become involved in an accident or fallen ill during a flight then you may be able to make a claim for compensation.

A claim could be made be made against the airline, the travel company, the airplane manufacturers or the owners (also applies to smaller aircraft and helicopters).

This can include medical expenses, loss of earnings and any additional expenses, e.g. 24 hour care.

Three types of aeroplane accident

There are three types of personal injury claim within this category which are:

  • Accident or illness on a domestic flight
  • Accident or illness on an international flight (as part of a package holiday)
  • Accident or illness on an international flight (direct booking only).

What are the differences between the three types of aeroplane accident?

The first one applies to flights undertaken for business or pleasure (i.e. package holiday) within the UK. A claim can be made against the airline using UK law.

The second one means that you can make a claim against a travel company or airline if you sustained an injury during an international flight. This comes under package holiday claims.

The third one refers to making a claim if an injury occurred on an international flight which was booked directly by the client. This is not part of a package holiday. An example of this is booking a flight over the internet.

The first and second type of claim can be made using UK law but the third has to be made using international law. This is known as the ‘Montreal Convention’.

The Montreal Convention

This is a type of international law which applies to international air travel. It states that an airline can be held liable for an accident or injury that occurs to a passenger during an international flight.

So, if you sustain an injury during your flight the airline is legally bound to pay compensation without you having to prove that they were negligent.

(Source: Thompsons Solicitors & Solicitor Advocates)

Examples of this include you tripping over a section of loose carpet in the aisle or being scalded by a hot drink which has been accidentally spilled over you. Your injury may have been caused by a member of the cabin crew or as a result of the actions of another passenger.

However not every country applies Montreal Convention. If you are flying from the UK to a foreign country which has not signed up to the Montreal Convention then it may not be considered international travel.

This is the case if it is a one way flight but if you have booked a return flight then it is considered international travel.

The Montreal Convention pays compensation in the following situations:

  • Injury or death to a passenger during an international flight
  • Flight delay or cancellation; delay or loss of baggage.

Time limit for claiming compensation for an aeroplane accident or illness

Under the terms of the Montreal Convention there is a time limit of 2 years in which to claim compensation for an accident or illness. This is 2 years from the date of the accident.

In the UK there is a time limit of 3 years in which to claim compensation but 2 years if the accident occurred on board an airplane.

A personal injury claim can be made if you can demonstrate that an accident happened whilst boarding the airplane, during the flight or when leaving the airplane.

If you want to know more about the general process of a compensation claim then visit our making a claim for compensation section.

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