Category Archives: Air travel fatality cases

airport security

Do You Know How Many Guns Are Confiscated from Airport Travelers?

It may be hard to imagine that you can forget you’re carrying around a loaded handgun, but the majority of the 3,391 airport gun seizures last year in the U.S. were because of “carelessness.” According to a recent article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “firearms confiscated from mostly forgetful, gun-toting travelers at Virginia’s top five airports, including Richmond International, jumped 21%  last year, following a national trend.”

The number of firearms detected and seized at TSA checkpoints rose from 58 in 2015 to 70 in 2016 at Virginia’s five largest airports—Dulles, Reagan, Washington National, Norfolk, Richmond and Newport News. Dulles led all other state airports last year with 24 weapons seized.

Airport gun seizures across the U.S. rose 28% last year, and since 2010, they’ve escalated 200%. Law enforcement officials and aviation security experts believe the trend on a national scale is primarily the result of more people legally carrying concealed handguns for self-protection.

In the aftermath of the recent shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (“FLL”), the increase in weapons coming into airports should be alarming. On January 6, Esteban Santiago, a 26-year-old Iraq War veteran, stepped off his Delta Airlines flight, retrieved his 9mm Walther handgun from his bag and opened fire on travelers, killing five and wounding six.

The continual increase in travelers carrying firearms and the FLL shooting—the worst airport attack in U.S. history—should encourage airports and airlines to increase their security, especially in baggage claim areas, where guard duties are largely left to the city and county law enforcement agencies at most facilities.

Although the shooting occurred outside the security checkpoint in the baggage claim area, it may be still the airline’s responsibility. Read more about it here. If you or someone you know or care for has been injured as the result of an airport terminal, airplane or other air travel related accident and you have questions as to what laws apply, email or call us at ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd. (703-796-9555) at once.

Getting air travelers safely to their destinations includes more than just safety on the jet; care for air passengers at the gates and in the terminals requires more under the law of "Common Carriers"

Shooting Outside Security Checkpoint in Baggage Area May Still Be Airlines Responsibility

Getting air travelers safely to their destinations includes more than just safety on the jet; care for air passengers at the gates and in the terminals requires more under the law of "Common Carriers"
Getting air travelers safely to their destinations includes more than just safety on the jet. The airlines’ duty of care for air passengers at the gates and in the terminals requires more under the legal doctrine of “Common Carriers”

A mentally imbalanced shooter at the Fort Lauderdale Florida Airport may have opened up several airlines to potential liability claims by the injured travelers and the families of those who died. Last week’s shooting at the Hollywood Fort Lauderdale International Airport baggage claim area presents questions of responsibility for the harms and losses to the innocent airline passengers. Clearly those airport employees and airline crew members who may have been injured in the attack may have recourse under the Workers Compensation law of the states where they were employed. However, the negligence claims of passengers and their families may be more complicated than the workers “no fault” compensation claims. Continue reading

Airport employees may be transporting murder weapons that may harm passengers before they get out of the airport. The Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting demonstrates the dangers to travelers outside of the "security area" but still on the airport grounds

Virginia Victim in Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooting

Airport employees may be transporting murder weapons that may harm passengers before they get out of the airport. The Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting demonstrates the dangers to travelers outside of the "security area" but still on the airport grounds
Airport employees may be transporting weapons that may harm passengers before they get out of the airport. The Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting demonstrates the dangers to travelers outside of the “security area” but still on the airport grounds

Five people were killed and six more were injured in the shooting Friday at the Fort Lauderdale Airport. There is a surveillance video that shows the moment the shooter took his weapon out and started firing at people’s heads in the baggage collection area of Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport (“FLL”). The gunman captured on the videotape is Esteban Santiago. He has been charged with performing an act of violence against a person at an airport serving international civil aviation and two other counts, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. The charges could lead to the death penalty if he is convicted. His victims included a grandfather from Virginia Beach, Virginia and a grandmother Continue reading

People who do not live under the landing patterns of major airports do not expect to see aircraft above their airspace. Droes coming onto private property without permission may become sport for well-armed Virginians

Fauquier County Virginia Drone Shooting

People who do not live under the landing patterns of major airports do not expect to see aircraft above their airspace. Droes coming onto private property without permission may become sport for well-armed Virginians
People who do not live under the landing patterns of major airports do not expect to see aircraft above their airspace. Drones flying onto or over private property, without permission, may become sport for well-armed Virginians

After being interviewed by Illinois an radio station regarding the use of drones and the legal ramifications (such as invasion of privacy, personal injury, airport proximity, etc.), Doug Landau became aware of a story not far from his home in Northern Virginia.

A Fauquier County resident noted that there was an unmanned, remote control flying machine over her neighbor’s property. When this drone drifted over to her property, she became alarmed at the intentions of this “UFO.” It just so happens that this woman was cleaning her guns on her front porch. Taking umbrage at this invasion of her privacy, this sure-shot Warrenton-area woman fired her weapon and took the drone out!

The local police were contacted by new sources, however law enforcement officials indicated that without a police report, there would be no charges. The woman who shot the drone out of the sky above her Fauquier County property indicated that when she threatened to call the police, the drone operators took off.

Drone operators need to be sensitive as to the privacy rights of other citizens, as well as their safety, because if a drone falls out of the sky and injures, they would be responsible for all the harms and losses.

If you or someone you know has been injured by a drone crash or other aircraft mishap, whether manned or unmanned, and there are questions as to the laws that apply, e-mail or call us at ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd. (703-796-9555) at once.

Airport Operations Areas, encompass the runways, aprons, refueling and loading areas at an airport. They are special, busy workplaces, where injuries occur to innocent airport workers, airline employees and members of the traveling public.

Mayhem on the “Air Operations Area” – Landau to lecture on Accidents on the AOA at American Trial Lawyers National Convention

Airport Operations Areas, encompass the runways, aprons, refueling and loading areas at an airport. They are special, busy workplaces, where injuries occur to innocent airport workers, airline employees and members of the traveling public.
Airport Operations Areas (or “AOA”), encompass the runways, taxiing zones, aprons, refueling and loading areas at an airport. They are special, busy, loud, time-pressured environments, where injuries occur to innocent airport workers, government agents, airline employees and members of the traveling public.

When Doug Landau takes the podium on the national program to teach other top trial lawyers about the special rules and regulations at airport runways, he will start by defining what is meant by the “AOA.”  According to the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) the Air Operations Area (AOA) “consists of airport areas where aircraft can operate, either under their own power or while in tow. The AOA includes runways, taxiways, and apron areas.”

http://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Advisory_Circular/150_5220_24.pdf

Another FAA definition of the “Air Operations Area” is “where security measures are enforced as specified in the airport security program. This area includes aircraft movement areas, aircraft parking areas, loading ramps, and safety areas and any adjacent areas (such as general aviation areas).”

http://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Advisory_Circular/150_5300_18b_part2.pdf

To further elaborate, the term is defined in the Aviation Glossary explanation of the AOA as “Any area of an airport used or intended to be used for landing, takeoff, or surface maneuvering of aircraft. An air operations area includes such paved areas or unpaved areas that are used, or intended to be used, for the unobstructed movement of aircraft in addition to its associated runway, taxiways, or apron.”

http://aviationglossary.com/air-operations-area-aoa/

It is the area of the airport, after passengers pass through the entrance of the terminal, successfully navigate the TSA screening area and enter the “sterile area”, where their luggage from the underbellies of the jets is loaded and unloaded, planes are re-fueled, catering trucks mate to international aircraft, maintenance Cushman vehicles stop for repairs, mid-field people movers bring travelers to their gates, tugs tow planes to runways or baggage to “arrivals” conveyer belts, ground crews use hand signals with illuminated wands to cockpits and pre-flight inspections are carried out by airline crew members. “Understanding what area is within the special rules covering the AOA is critical to the investigation of a permanent injury case or collision between airport vehicles or jets,” notes Landau, of the Herndon law firm ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd. His Dulles International Airport (“IAD”) office routinely helps injured airport workers, airline employees, air travelers and the innocent victims of unsafe conduct on the runways of East Coast airports.

If you or someone you know or care for has been injured as the result of an airport terminal, airplane or other air travel related accident and there are questions about what laws apply, e-mail or call us at ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd. (703-796-9555) at once.

Plane on tarmac

Airport Lightning Strike – Does Airline have Duty to Protect?

Plane on tarmac
Deplaning directly on the tarmac, without the protection of a jetway, can expose passengers to dangerous conditions. Does an airline have a duty to protect when it comes to passenger safety in the airport operations area (AOA)?

In the summer of 2015, a healthy, vibrant 52 year old woman died of her injuries after being struck by lightning on an airport tarmac in Columbia, South Carolina.  The woman was getting off an American Airlines plane that had been diverted to Columbia because of bad weather.

Her family filed a lawsuit, alleging the airport and airline personnel did not take necessary measures to protect the passengers from a known risk of lightning.  The suit states the woman “came to her untimely death as a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ negligent, grossly negligent, willful, wanton, and reckless conduct or failure.”

Airport injury lawyer Doug Landau believes that, just as all common carriers have a duty to protect the traveling public, airline and airport personnel in this situation should have done more to ensure the safety of its passengers. Having tried cases in Columbia, SC, lawyer Landau has flown in and out of the small airport that services that Southern city. If there is a high probability of dangerous lightning strikes, then the airlines and tower have a duty to prevent foreseeable harms.

According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory website,

“over the contiguous 48 states, an average of 20,000,000 cloud-to-ground flashes have been detected every year since the lightning detection network covered all of the continental US in 1989. In addition, about half of all flashes have more than one ground strike point, so at least 30 million points on the ground are struck on the average each year in the US.”

30 million ground strikes each year!!

Clearly, lightning poses a real and quantifiable danger.  Scientific advancement in weather prediction capabilities make it possible to anticipate storms and the presence of lightning.  In fact it would be nearly impossible with today’s technology NOT to predict the possibility of lightning!

“As pointed out in the lawsuit, every coach, troop leader, and sporting event manager knows not to expose people to lightning,” notes Lawyer Landau.  “The woman in this case had every reason to believe she would be safe when deplaning.”

If you or someone you know has been injured at an airport and there are questions as to what laws apply, email or call Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once (703-796-9555).

 

Just as when air travel was in its infancy, drone usage is so new that the laws and regulations have not yet caught up to actual usage.  The Commonwealth of Virginia is uniquely positioned to aide in the research into safety.

Virginia Poised to be a Leader in Drone Technology and Unmanned Craft Testing

historic airplane
When airplanes looked like this, air travel was in its infancy and few regulations existed. The laws and rules governing today’s airline industry were developed over time, as air travel became more pervasive and safety became of greater concern. Similarly, drone law must evolve as the popularity of these unmanned systems is on the rise.

Drones are unmanned remote-controlled aircraft.

The Commonwealth of Virginia is uniquely positioned to test, manufacture, and create policy to augment the safety of these unmanned systems.

In an interview with second term U.S. Senator Mark Warner for the April edition of Virginia Business,  this outstanding politician said, “Not as a politician, but as a business guy, I predict what will be the next most disruptive technology will be unmanned systems. There were 1 million drones sold at Christmas last year America. None of them were built in America. Yet, Virginia is one of the six sites that can do [Federal Aviation Administration] testing. We actually have more capacity to test center-driven or driverless cars in Virginia than any other state. With activities at Virginia Tech, some activities at Southside, and with some capacity we have in the [Express] lanes in Northern Virginia, we have an opportunity to be involved in the design and manufacture of unmanned systems. It’s going to be a huge area, with the military, with activities at Tech and other institutions, we really have a chance to be a leader.”

The military has already been arming drones to kill enemy combatants just as the Israeli Defense Force has been using them for years to take out known terrorists. The technology exists for many civilian applications.

“However, the law sometimes trails newer technologies, and rules to ensure safe use and responsible manufacture are critical to protecting citizens’ privacy and safety,” notes Herndon airport injury lawyer Doug Landau.

He adds, “The government cannot simply give drone owners carte blanche; there must be some regulatory oversight, or else these devices will start taking jets, planes, and helicopters out of the sky, causing property damage and permanent injury to innocent victims in the air and on the ground. If Virginia is going to be leader in testing, design, and manufacture of the unmanned flying devices, then the Commonwealth will need to have laws in place to protect the public from unnecessary harm.”

If you or someone you care for has been injured by a drone, aircraft, or other aviation related accident, and there are questions as to what laws apply, email or call Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once (703-796-9555).

airplane

Post-9/11 Pentagon Fatality Results in Awards for Daughters by Two Different Mothers

airplane
Air travel was forever changed on 9/11/2001. Airport injury lawyer Doug Landau represented the families of an airline pilot, senior flight attendant, and passengers killed on that infamous day. In a tragic twist, he also helped the families of a worker killed in a post-911 accident.

In one of the more tragic cases of Herndon injury lawyer Doug Landau’s career, he was called upon to represent a worker who died in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon outside of Washington DC.

The Abrams Landau team represented the family of the pilot of the jet that crashed into the Pentagon, as well as the senior flight attendant’s family, and those of passengers traveling.

The devastation did not stop on that infamous day.

A crack team of welders was brought in from Colorado to repair the damage to our nation’s military headquarters. One of these workers was fatally crushed by a steel beam girder that fell out of its placement sling.  He died instantly in a horrific manner.

Lawyer Landau was contacted, and undertook to represent the deceased worker’s middle school age daughter, living in Colorado with the employee’s ex-wife.

However, the decedent had divorced his first wife and mother of his daughter, and remarried.  And in a tragic twist, his new wife was pregnant, but did not give birth until sometime after the post 9/11 workplace accident.

So what happens next?

As the ex-wife and current wife could not agree for the case to be settled, Doug Landau was able to fashion an Award from the Virginia Worker’s Compensation Commission that provided payments to BOTH daughters equally, until such time as either:

  • the older daughter turned 18 or passed away, OR
  • the younger daughter predeceased her sister, in which case the other would receive the full amount of the death benefit.

In Virginia, fatal job accident cases can be paid up to 500 weeks. However, Landau knew that this statute can be extended if the child is in a full-time qualifying educational institution.

The child in Colorado was in school, and received benefits beyond her 18th birthday.

Landau also has won cases for children who are themselves above the age of majority, but who are disabled, such that they can get almost 10 years of weekly compensation payments.

If you or someone you know may be eligible for Worker’s Compensation benefits, and has questions about how best to proceed, please contact us at once as there are strict legal time limits that can forever bar a child, spouse, and other family members from receiving a dime.  Call us at 703-796-9555, or send an email.

Drone Strikes Jet in the UNfriendly Skies Around the International Airport

After giving a presentation to the American Association of Justice on "Drone Law," Airline injury lawyer Doug Landau was able to change into his casual wear & explore Boca Raton, Florida with American, British & Canadian trial lawyers
After giving his multi-media presentation to the American Association of Justice on “Drone Law,” Airline injury lawyer Doug Landau was able to change into his casual wear & explore Boca Raton, Florida with American, British & Canadian trial lawyers

Just weeks after Doug Landau warned of the dangers of “Rogue Drones” and gave a presentation on “Drone Law” at the convention of American Trial Lawyers, a suspected drone struck a British Airways airliner. The international jet was beginning its landing at Heathrow Airport when it was hit.

The aircraft’s pilot reported to police that the front of the jet was hit on their return from Geneva, Switzerland on Sunday. The craft landed safely at the Heathrow Terminal with 132 passengers and five crew members aboard. Engineers examined the Airbus A320 and cleared it for its next flight. Nevertheless, this is precisely the dangerous conduct that lawyer Landau warned about in his multi-media presentation to the American Association for Justice, which has many members from England and other Commonwealth countries.

Landau’s presentation, “Who is Liable for Making the Skies Unfriendly ?” examined the explosion in popularity in recreational and commercial drone usage.  Lawyer Landau’s presentation pointed out the fact that the government was playing “catch up” to respond with laws and workable safety protocols after a number of “near misses” at American airports.

According to the British press, no arrests have been made, but the investigation continues. “Thankfully the aircraft landed safely but the incident highlights the very real dangers of reckless, negligent and some times malicious use of drones,” Chief Superintendent Martin Hendy, head of Metropolitan Police Service’s Aviation Policing Command, said in a statement. “We continue to work with the Civil Aviation Authority and other partners to tackle this issue and ensure that enthusiasts who fly drones understand the dangers and the law.” Landau notes that if the technology exists to track cell phones and trucks, why can’t drones be tracked so as to avoid crashes with large commercial or military jets ? 

The Civil Aviation Authority (the equivalent of the US Federal Aviation Administration) stated, “It is totally unacceptable to fly drones close to airports and anyone flouting the rules can face severe penalties including imprisonment.” Rules for drone pilots in the UK include making sure that these unmanned flying devices are always within the operator’s line of sight, not flying above 400 feet (122 meters), and staying away from airports and aircraft. British Airways stated, “Safety and security are always out first priority and we will give the police every assistance with their investigation.”

Everyone at ABRAMS LANDAU hopes that whomever was operating this drone is apprehended and that this incredibly dangerous behavior is dealt with by the courts in an appropriate manner.

Drones serve many useful functions, but these unmanned aircraft can cause physical harm, injuries and invade one's privacy if not regulated

Drone Policy Analysts Joined by Privacy Advocates

Drones serve many useful functions, but these unmanned aircraft can cause physical harm, injuries and invade one's privacy if not regulated
Drones serve many useful functions, but these unmanned aircraft can cause physical harm, injuries, and invade one’s privacy if not regulated

In follow-up to our prior post regarding unmanned drone safety and registration, we discuss a new wrinkle in administering policy to these pilotless aircraft:  the question of privacy.

While there is no question some regulation of the private and commercial use of drones was inevitable, the task for regulators is now how to protect privacy and promote safety without infringing on the First Amendment rights of citizens and businesses who wish to use drones for legitimates purposes, like photography or news gathering. A recent New York Times editorial piece discusses this complex situation where commerce, safety and borders all collide.

The Times notes that the “F.A.A. is not equipped to regulate another big drone-related issue: privacy. There is no question that many Americans are concerned; 63 percent of people surveyed by the Pew Research Center and Smithsonian magazine in 2014 said allowing private and commercial drones into the American airspace could cause harm. Some worry that drones will be used to peer through windows and into normally protected spaces like backyards. These are not new concerns. In 1946, in a case involving airplane takeoffs and landings over a farm, the Supreme Court ruled that people should have control over “the immediate reaches of the enveloping atmosphere” above their properties.

Many privacy advocates are also worried that drones used by businesses will collect information like wireless signals emitted by cellphones that could be used to determine people’s locations. One marketing company did just that in a test last year in Los Angeles.

President Obama has ordered the Commerce Department to work with industry and privacy groups to come up with a set of best practices for drone use that are expected to be voluntary. States and cities are more aggressive. Lawmakers in California, Texas, Los Angeles, Miami and elsewhere have passed laws that limit where drones can be flown and how they can be used. Texas, for example, forbids the use of drones to take photographs of people or real estate. Exceptions include crime investigations and the marketing of properties by brokers.

The public’s desire for clear rules is understandable. Still, policy makers should not make it so difficult to use drones that they end up limiting the First Amendment rights of filmmakers, activists and journalists. The Texas law, for example, does not include an exception for news gathering.

Unmanned aircraft can be incredibly useful. But many Americans will be skeptical of them unless safeguards are put in place guaranteeing safety and protecting privacy.

Washington Dulles International Airport area lawyer Doug Landau agrees that safeguards must be put in place.

If there are no protections, insurance companies and defense lawyers may have victims followed 24/7 by unmanned aircraft. Landau had a case in which an injured worker was filmed painting the INSIDE of his Reston apartment by a camera hoisted up on a telescoping pole. The apartment was on the 3rd floor !

The film was used against the injured worker by the insurance company lawyer.

To lawyer Landau’s arguments about technology and “invasion of privacy,” the judge in the Alexandria Circuit Court ruled that as the activities were “visible” from the street, they were “fair game” for the insurance company investigator ! Landau notes, “with drone technology, it will be even easier for insurance companies to spy on injured victims, such that they will have no privacy after being harmed through no fault of their own !

Drones need to be regulated for reasons of safety, national security, and privacy.