Category Archives: Airline passenger injury cases

If you are injured at an airport you must hire experienced legal counsel right away who knows how to build an “open and shut” case.

10 Hallmarks of an “Open and Shut” Airport Injury Case

If you are injured at an airport you must hire experienced legal counsel who knows how to build an “open and shut” case on your behalf.

The trial team at Abrams Landau, Ltd. was contacted by an out-of-state lawyer earlier this month for assistance in a case in which a traveler was struck by a rental car company employee on the airport premises.

Herndon injury lawyer Doug Landau explained to his colleague that an open and shut airport accident case has the following hallmarks:

  1. Pictures of the scene
  2. Videotape of the incident
  3. Witnesses that support the injured victim’s version of what happened
  4. Airport police or county sheriff’s investigation of the incident
  5. Prompt liability investigation to determine who is at fault
  6. Two or more written statements supporting the injured victim’s claims
  7. Physical evidence, such as torn clothing, damaged luggage, etc.
  8. Objective signs of injury which can be clearly perceived by medical professionals, as well as lay witnesses
  9. Prompt, appropriate medical treatment
  10. Records supporting good pre-injury health, and no significant, related pre-existing conditions or subsequent intervening or superseding accidents, illnesses etc.

Unfortunately, the trial team at Abrams Landau, Ltd. was unable to get involved with this particular case because:

  • They were contacted too late;
  • Almost no liability investigation had taken place; and
  • There were no objective signs of injury, despite the subsequent two years of medical treatment.

While lawyer Doug Landau’s first instinct is always to help, and his experience in handling and helping those injured in and around airports is well-known, it was simply too late to help.

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

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.

The Airport Operations Area (AOA) can be dangerous because workers' sense of hearing, sight, and feel may be limited, leaving them exposed to dangerous conditions.

Airport Ground Crew are Vulnerable on the Air Operations Area (AOA)

Airport Operations Area (AOA) can be dangerous.
The Airport Operations Area (AOA) can be dangerous because of numerous vehicles maneuvering in a tight area. Workers’ ability to see, hear, and feel dangers around them is limited on the AOA.

Airline ground crew and airport personnel are vulnerable on the air operations area (“AOA”) because of the numerous vehicles that are maneuvering — sometimes in very tight spaces.

In addition, most of these workers are wearing ear protection which limits their ability to hear danger coming from behind.  With jet engines running, it is sometimes impossible to feel the vibrations of an oncoming vehicle.

So if employee cannot feel a large vehicle coming, or hear it coming, or smell it coming, then they must rely on their sense of sight, which may be distracted due to luggage carts, fuel tankers, small jets, midfield people movers, and other vehicles on the AOA.

This is why there are injuries to airport and airline workers on the runway area, even when they are exercising vigilance for their safety and that of other people on airport grounds.

If you or someone you know works on an airport operations area and has been injured due to no fault of your own, please email or call Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once.

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.

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.

October Landau Law Letter

Airline employees and airport contractors should exercise increased care when pushing wheelchair bound passengers through the airport terminals and gates so as to avoid unnecessary injuries.
The October edition of the Landau Law Letter features an article about passengers injured in an airport.

The October edition of our newsletter, the Landau Law Letter, was published earlier this month.

A unique feature of our newsletter is that we publish lawyer Landau’s schedule so you can “see him in action”.

This is especially helpful if you have an upcoming trial, hearing, or mediation session.  A visit to your trial’s venue in advance will help you feel more comfortable on your own day in court.  You can test out your directions, locate the parking, and get the general lay of the land.

Also, many of Landau’s airport, passenger, and airline injury clients do not live near the Abrams Landau office in Herndon, Virginia.  But you can check the newsletter to see if he plans to be in your area — he welcomes the opportunity to meet with you while he’s in “your neck of the woods”.

And finally, it’s natural to want to see your lawyer “in action” before he goes to battle on your behalf.  Come check out what we do — you won’t be disappointed!

If you do want to come see us in action please be sure to call our office first at 703-796-9555, or send us an email.

 

Airline employees and airport contractors should exercise increased care when pushing wheelchair bound passengers through the airport terminals and gates so as to avoid unnecessary injuries.

Dulles International Airport Passenger Settles Wheelchair Injury Case

Airline employees and airport contractors should exercise increased care when pushing wheelchair bound passengers through the airport terminals and gates so as to avoid unnecessary injuries.
Airline employees and airport contractors should exercise increased care when pushing wheelchair bound passengers through the airport terminals and gates so as to avoid unnecessary injuries.

The team at the Herndon law firm ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd., has settled another Dulles International Airport (“IAD”) wheelchair injury case on behalf of an out of state client from the west coast.

Because the insurance company for the Defendants would not accept full responsibility for the harms caused to this European model, lawyer Landau filed a lawsuit in the Loudoun County Virginia Circuit Court, as this trial court has jurisdiction over Dulles Airport injury cases.

The facts of the case are quite simple.

The traveler was provided wheelchair services through one of the airport contractors because she had recently injured her leg.

In December of 2012, while being transported to her flight terminal on a wheelchair being operated by an employee of the contractor, she was injured when the wheelchair operator ran her knees directly into a metal post located outside a gate in Terminal C of Dulles International Airport.

Furthermore, the operator of the wheelchair provided no prior warning before the impact with the metal post.

Landau’s lawsuit alleged that the wheelchair contractor, Dulles International Airport, and the airlines, by and through their agents and employees, were negligent, careless, and breached the duties owed by each of them to the disabled passenger.

While the liability or “fault” part of the case was straightforward, the damages were more complicated.

As the plaintiff traveler was already disabled, proving her losses from modeling, medical care, and physical pain required close analysis of the pre- AND post-accident medical records.

Eventually the parties reached a compromise without the need for the plaintiff to make multiple trips to the east coast for depositions, medical examinations, and trial.

Landau noted that his law firm was only brought into the case as the 2 year Virginia time limit was about to run on bringing a lawsuit, hence the case took almost 3 years to conclude.

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

How do air traffic controllers and pilots protect against drones flying near airports ? Who is responsible if drones cause injury ?

Who is responsible for a crash between a drone and a private plane or commercial jet?

How do air traffic controllers and pilots protect against drones flying near airports ? Who is responsible if drones cause injury ?
How do air traffic controllers and pilots protect against drones flying near airports ? Who is responsible if drones cause injury ?

Air-traffic controllers have plenty to do safely coordinating arriving and departing aircraft, as well as vehicles on the airport operations area. With the surge in the numbers of these small, unmanned aircraft being used in American air space, their jobs, and those of pilots and other airline personnel, have become exponentially more difficult and dangerous.

As recently reported on the editorial and  front page of the Washington Post, there have been many “near misses” at major US international airports. Herndon Virginia airport injury lawyer Doug Landau notes that while there are international conventions regarding injuries caused during flights, the advent of drones will require updating both American and international laws to keep apace with technology.

Since many drones are small and fly at altitudes under the radar, it is extremely difficult to avoid contact. Eyelets have reported not seeing the unmanned the craft until they are nearly upon these hovering objects. Lawyer Landau adds, “When you factor in the speed and momentum of a commercial aircraft, with the invisibility of a small unmanned craft that does not emit a beacon or warning lights, you have an air crash disaster in the making.”

So what is the solution? Landau advocates that, “Drones should be equipped with the technology so they can be seen, heard and otherwise sensed (and safely avoided) by commercial and private aircraft. If a drone operator is flying unmanned aircraft without this safety technology, they should be fined. If you have to buy a license for a remote control airplane, it seems a small surcharge on drones is not asking too much of hobbyists and professionals. The best protection is prevention.”

Landau adds, “if a jet or small airplane is taken out by unmanned drone, who is going to pay for the harms and losses? The drone operator probably has no insurance for such a loss, and limited assets. The airlines, or aircraft operator, will assert that they are not liable, as they were not negligent, and were not the cause of the crash, injuries, property damage or death.” Clearly, the FAA and related to governmental agencies need to get on top of this issue, before disaster strikes.

Germanwings Airbus Crash in the French Alps Touches Close To Home

The crash of the Germanwing Airbus A320 has many questions unanswered.  Investigators from Lufthansa, the EU and elsewhere are looking for the lfight data recorder and "black box" information to help explain why this jet crashed in the Alps.
The Germanwing Airbus A320 crash leaves many questions unanswered. Investigators from Lufthansa, the EU and elsewhere are looking for the flight data recorder & “black box” to explain why this jet crashed in the Alps.

The Alpine crash of the Germanwings flight from Spain to Germany was a tragedy that is just in its initial investigation stage.  While most of the jet crash victims were from Europe, several Americans suffered fatal injuries. The “black box” was heavily damaged in the impact, but may reveal information about the doomed Airbus jet’s final moments.  Apparently the crew lost radio contact for several minutes before it crashed in the mountains.  The Germanwings Airbus 320 crashed into the southern French Alps and the “black box’s” memory card came loose and remains missing, according to a report in The New York Post.

Germanwing is an arm of the international German airline Lufthansa, and the Airbus A320 has been involved in a dozen fatal crashes since 1988, though its track record in relation to the number of flights remains quite good in terms of flying safety.  The jet in question began flying in 1990, had flown 583,000 hours over 46,700 flights.  Most crashes tend to occur in takeoff and landing situations, not cruising as was the case here.

All 144 passengers and 6 crew members were killed. The flight data recorder, retains 25 hours of information on the position and condition of the key components of the aircraft.  This other vital “black box” has not been retrieved as of this time. It is also unclear whether the jet, which had been grounded the day before for mechanical issues, was still in need of service and safe to fly. According to the Daily Mail, there are

Review of the ground maintenance & repair records of the Germanwing Airbus A320 may reveal why the  aircraft crashed while cruising over the Alps.
Review of the ground maintenance & repair records of the Germanwing Airbus A320 may reveal why the aircraft crashed while cruising over the Alps.

German reports that the aircraft had been grounded just 24 hours before it departed Barcelona for Dusseldorf. These technical issues included a landing gear problem.

According to The Washington Post coverage two of the plane crash victims were American.  Our hearts go out to the Nokesville, Virginia family that lost a wife and daughter in this tragedy.  French investigators opened the “black box” and recovered some audio information from the cockpit voice recorder in order to glean important evidence as to the crash. In a prior post we wrote about the fact that these “black boxes” are not in fact black, but orange, and that they are evaluated nearby in Washington, D.C. While the “black box” technology has provided evidence in other plane crashes, when a jet crashes into the ocean or is not recovered, investigators are without the information to improve safety in the future.  Does not the technology exits to transmit, in real time, information as to a jet’s course, altitude, etc. so that the data can be picked up securely on the ground or by satellite ?  Recent crashes in Asia suggest that the time has come to have a “Plan B” such that destruction or loss of the “black box” would not mean that the evidence of a jet’s final moments are forever lost…

In the next post, we will look at the remedies available to Americans injured in international flights.

Extra Wide Seats on Airplanes?

Although sitting in the bulkhead row gives travelers more leg room, there is no provision in an economy cabin for extra width.
Although sitting in the bulkhead row gives travelers more leg room, there is no provision in an economy cabin for seats with extra width.

In addition to “extra leg room,” should airlines offer “extra hip room ?” In this era of maximizing the number of passengers that can safely fit into commercial aircraft and charging for food, bags, pets, bikes, and headsets, Herndon Airline injury lawyer Doug Landau wonders if “extra wide in the sky” will become another “a la carte” option for air travelers.  “Fly-Guy” George Hobica, founder of airfarewatchdog, recently published an article calling on airlines to add a couple rows of wider seats on their commercial aircraft.  The article has gone viral, and is turning up all over social media.  Airline safety lawyer Doug Landau first came upon it on Linked In.

Hobica argues that if some travelers are willing to pay for extra legroom, surely there are also some who would be willing to pay for extra width.

Extra wide seats, he says, would alleviate problems caused when obese passengers — or even bodybuilders — “encroach onto other passengers’ space, causing discomfort for everyone.”

Lawyer Landau sees the merit in Hobica’s argument. “Tall travelers are offered the option to upgrade their seats for extra legroom,” notes Landau, “so why can’t wide passengers have the option for extra width?  I have seen larger passengers made uncomfortable by crew members who bump into them with beverage carts.  I have also seen larger travelers endure the embarrassment of requesting a double seat belt.  Wider seats would be a welcome solution.”

As the original article noted, although some airlines’ policies dictate that larger passengers must purchase two seats, this is rarely enforced.

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