Disabled airport passengers face tough decisions when flying with or without their own wheelchairs, scooters or motorized devices. Insisting on airline assistance from curb to aircraft can reduce the likelihood of unnecessary danger and injury.

Disabled Airline Traveler’s Arm Broken By Airport’s Failure to Provide Requested Wheelchair Assistance

Disabled airport passengers face tough decisions when flying with or without their own wheelchairs, scooters or motorized devices. Insisting on airline assistance from curb to aircraft can reduce the likelihood of unnecessary danger and injury.
Disabled airport passengers face tough decisions when flying with or without their own wheelchairs, scooters or motorized devices. Insisting on airline assistance from curb to aircraft can reduce the likelihood of unnecessary danger and injury.

Traveling the “friendly skies” is a challenging prospect for those who are disabled. We recently helped a woman in her case against an international airline and airport.

She was traveling to a family function and contacted the Defendant Airport in advance of her trip to inquire as to arranging for a wheelchair attendant when she arrived. When she arrived at the DC area airport, she was told by representatives of the airline that she did not need an attendant or a wheelchair, since she was able to get into the terminal from the curb by use of her motorized scooter.  The airline representative dismissed the wheelchair attendant who had arrived.

The passenger was further informed that there were mid-field terminal buses and a train system to take her and her husband to their gate. The couple made it to their departure gate without incident. However, on the return trip to the Washington Metropolitan area, things did not go so smoothly…

After landing, the couple was given her scooter and proceeded to the trains that would take passengers back to the main terminal and luggage carousels. Once on the train, the couple saw a spot with no seats, where wheelchairs would go, with a clamp made for wheelchairs to be secured. However, the scooter did not fit in this device, and without an attendant, the traveler held on to a pole as best she could. When the train accelerated, she was thrown to the floor, breaking her arm and causing severe nerve damage requiring surgery. Because of her already compromised condition, her medical care was extremely complicated and expensive. After her arm was broken and the complications it caused, this middle-aged woman was forced to spend most of her days in bed.

The claim against the Defendants was premised upon the fact that the Airlines had a duty as a common carrier to use the highest degree of practical care and foresight for the safety of its passengers.

The airport negligence team at ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd., brought suit because the Airlines failed in their duty of care of this passenger, who had tried to exercise caution for her own safety well in advance of her trip. The airline brought in the airport, subsidiaries and contractors as co-defendants, and delayed the case for a long time before agreeing to settle with contributions from the various non-airport entities. DC area injury lawyer Doug Landau notes that

“this higher standard of care for ‘Common Carrier’ is meant to protect the traveling public at airports where there is only one way to the jets. You cannot take a cab to the stairs to the plane, nor can you just walk across the runway to catch your flight. Instead, once you are on the airport premises, it is for the airlines and the airport authority to make sure that you are not subject to unsafe conditions and unnecessary injury.”

The prevention of foreseeable harm is at the very heart of negligence law in the United States.

Lawyer Landau adds, “While this standard of care does not apply to hotel courtesy or shuttle vans, once you are inside the airport, it is likely that the laws applicable to ‘Common Carriers’ apply.

If you or someone you care for has been injured at an airport or on board an aircraft, and you have questions, please contact us via e-mail or call (703)-796-9555 at once, as these claims have strict time limits.

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