Category Archives: Airline passenger injury cases

Dulles Airport

Why are travel injury cases more complex, expensive and difficult?

One of the main reasons that travel injury cases are more difficult is because the incident, place of medical care and the injured person’s home tend to be completely different locations. The plaintiff typically lives in one state, gets injured in transit in a second state but usually wants to continue his or her journey, so medical care occurs in a third state.

airport injuryTherefore, gathering the necessary evidence is also more complicated. Bringing a doctor from out-of-state to trial, or having their videotape deposition at their out-of-state offices, can be very expensive. Plus, witnesses may be from other sites and countries, as well! Witnesses are reimbursed for their travel and lodging, and different states have their own rules for what a doctor or witness can be compelled to do.

The Abrams Landau, Ltd. airport injury legal team has helped many travelers and airline employee injured while traveling for vacation or business, and these cases all pose their own unique issues. The important thing is to get experienced counsel involved right away and to secure the evidence so that the case can be proved in court even years later. Too often we are contacted too late to be of any assistance, as witnesses disappear, memories fade and videos are erased or lost.

If you or someone you know or care for has been injured as the result of an airport terminal, airplane or other 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.

working

Are You Calculating Your Average Weekly Wage Correctly for Your Workers Comp Benefits?

In Virginia, an injured workers compensation rate is based upon their pre-injury “Average Weekly Wage.” Too often Herndon injury lawyer Doug Landau meets with disabled workers who are getting weekly comp benefits based only upon their wages for 40 hours. Often times this leads to a huge underpayment. This is because many workers work and earn overtime; receive bonuses; have other, similar jobs; get company uniforms, trucks, meals, etc. Each of those can increase the average weekly wage calculation if

While attending the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission’s special education program for lawyers, doctors, claims managers & third party administrators, Herndon-Reston area workplace injury lawyer Doug Landau discussed difficult wage issues with insurance defense counsel and comp judges. Note the sign for the “Food Court;” if an employer provides a worker with free meals, clothing, vehicles or transportation, these “fringe benefits” may add value to the disabled employee’s Average Weekly Wage (“AWW”). Make sure that ALL that you get for your work, prior to becoming disabled, are included in these critical calculations.
While attending the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission’s special education program for lawyers, doctors, claims managers & third party administrators, Herndon-Reston area workplace injury lawyer Doug Landau discussed difficult wage issues with insurance defense counsel and comp judges. Note the sign for the “Food Court;” if an employer provides a worker with free meals, clothing, vehicles or transportation, these “fringe benefits” may add value to the disabled employee’s Average Weekly Wage (“AWW”). Make sure that ALL that you get for your work, prior to becoming disabled, are included in these critical calculations.

done early on in the case. Unfortunately, many insurance adjusters do not voluntarily tell an injured worker of their family that they are entitled under the law to add on their overtime, bonus and similar jobs’ earnings to correctly, and fairly calculate their Average Weekly Wage (“AWW”) rates.

Correctly calculating the injured worker’s pre-injury AWW impacts the employer and workers compensation insurance carrier’s exposure over the life of a claim. It can affect the immediate payment of weekly indemnity benefits as well as the ultimate settlement value of a file.  The three (3) kinds of indemnity benefits are all affected by the AWW calculation: Temporary Total Disability (“TTD”) benefits (for total wage loss), Temporary Partial Disability  (“TPD”) benefits (for partial wage loss after a return to light duty &/or part-time work), Permanent Partial Disability (“PPD”) benefits, or even Permanent Total Disability (“PTD”).

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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

Dulles Airport

Dulles Airport Air Traveler Volume Busier Than You Think

The main air control tower at Washington Dulles International Airport ("IAD") can be seen for miles around Virginia's Loudoun & Fairfax Counties. With enormous passenger and crew traffic comes increased responsibility for traveler and employee safety.
The main air control tower at Washington Dulles International Airport (“IAD”) can be seen for miles around Virginia’s Loudoun & Fairfax Counties. With enormous passenger and crew traffic comes increased responsibility for traveler and employee safety.

How many people travel through Washington Dulles International Airport (“IAD”) each year? One million? Ten Million? Try 21,650,546 in 2015, and that’s not the highest year on record for the Loudoun County facility. According to the Air Traffic Statistics Report, 14,463,112 are domestic passengers and 7,187,434 from international flights.

Dulles Airport is one of the busiest airports in the United States, and its proximity to the “Capitol of the Free World” makes it an important stop for travelers from all over the globe. Because of the sheer volume of passengers, crew and airport workers, AND it’s 24/7 operations schedule, Dulles, unlike Reagan National Airport, gets no “down time” with which to work on safety issues.

While the underground train system is a huge improvement over the “midfield terminal bus” system, those huge, unstable vehicles are still in use on the Air Operations Area (AOA). These are some of the largest wheel-based vehicles on the planet, and at Dulles Airport, they compete with jets, planes, fuel trucks, catering vehicles, luggage tugs, maintenance Cushman, security details and inspectors’ cars for the limited space on the runways and airport roadways. Given this volume of vehicular traffic, accidents will happen on the AOA. Hopefully attendance at the regular safety meetings by the representatives of the various contractors and airlines using Dulles will result in improvements in safety for both the traveling public and airline and airport employees.

Once a traveler passes through security into the “sterile areas” of the airport, they are in the hands of the airlines, who are considered “common carriers” in the eyes of the law. This means that there is a higher duty of care owed to make sure that the traveler gets from point A to point B safely. While the airlines can, and often do, subcontract and outsource aspects of their obligation, they are still ultimately responsible for conveying passengers safely and avoiding needless injury. It is hoped that as new routes are brought to Washington Dulles International Airport that commensurate increases in safety and injury prevention will also expand. 2017 can be a record year for safety at Dulles Airport. Safety should be as important as passenger volume and profits. Let us hope the folks at the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority and the airlines that fly out of Dulles Airport share these same priorities.

When an injury has been caused on an airline's jet, the victim may have a claim against the airline AND possibly the manufacturer or assembler of the dangerous part

American Airlines jet catches fire on runway & enveloped in smoke; passengers file lawsuit

When an injury has been caused on an airline's jet, the victim may have a claim against the airline AND possibly the manufacturer or assembler of the dangerous part
When an injury has been caused on an airline’s jet, the victim may have a claim against the airline AND possibly the manufacturer or assembler of the dangerous part

When an aircraft is dangerous and causes harm, passengers can bring claims against the airlines and also the manufacturers and supplier of the component parts that make up the jet. Recently, eighteen people filed a lawsuit against American Airlines, General Electric and Boeing after their plane caught fire. The emergency occurred as it was lifting off from O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois last month according to a news source (click here for video of the fire).

Apparently twenty people suffered minor injuries on October 28th when American Airlines Flight 383 to Miami experienced an apparent engine failure. The jet engine fire started on the right side of the aircraft and passengers were taken off and onto the Air Operations Area (“AOA”). The passengers’ lawsuit claims the engine was constructed from defective material. Secondarily, the passengers further claimed that American Airlines employees were negligent during the evacuation of the airplane.

According to Herndon Virginia airport accident lawyer Doug Landau, passengers harmed while on board an aircraft may have claims for defective or dangerous products or manufacturing, and they may also have claims for the unsafe actions of airline personnel. The case against the airline employees can be brought separately from the case against the engine manufacturer or jet assembler. It is important to know where and when these lawsuits can be brought, so that the injured passenger’s case is not prejudiced. If you or someone you know or care for has been injured as the result of an airport runway 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.

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).

 

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.