Most of us associate flying with happy holidays but, unfortunately, inflight injuries do happen. In this article, Amber Wang, Senior Associate with Snedden Hall & Gallop Lawyers, discusses your options if you are injured during a commercial flight.

Inflight injuries

When people think of injuries associated with aeroplane travel, they often think of the extreme end of the spectrum. They might think of deaths or catastrophic injuries sustained in aviation disasters or on small charter flights.
But what about more minor inflight injuries? What if a cup of hot coffee from the drinks trolley spills on you? A faulty seat keeps reclining? Or a suitcase falls from the overhead luggage compartment onto your head?

Claiming compensation

If you are injured in an accident on a commercial flight, and the carrier was at fault (negligent), you may be able to claim compensation (damages).
However, there is complex legislation that governs injuries or deaths sustained in aviation accidents. Also, different rules apply for international and domestic passengers.
Each airline carrier that flies passengers to, from, or within Australia, commercially, must have passenger liability insurance. This may cover you if you have suffered an inflight injury, including while getting on or off the plane. 
Airline employees  are not usually covered by the insurance policy if they are travelling as part of their employment. However, they may be able to make a claim under workers compensation.

What is an accident?

An event is considered to be an ‘accident’ if it:

  • is external to the passenger
  • causes bodily injury
  • is unusual, unexpected or untoward.

So, while you may not be able to claim for tripping over your own feet after having one-too-many complimentary drinks, you may be successful in a claim for an inflight injury if items fall on your head from the overhead locker.
But claiming compensation for an inflight injury is complicated. This is particularly true for international travel because the relevant law depends on which international treaty applies. In Australia, your must bring claims for most flight-related accidents within two years from the date the flight should have arrived. Therefore, is important to seek advice promptly if you need to seek compensation for an injury or death that occurred because of an aviation accident.

Snedden Hall & Gallop can assist you

If you have suffered an inflight injury and it is was an accident due to negligence,  you may be able to claim compensation. To get advice about a compensation claim for an inflight injury please contact us on 02 6285 8000 or by email. You find out more about our compensation team here.