Category Archives: Airport vehicle crashes

Planes, tugs, cars, pedestrians, trucks, cushman carts & vans can crowd the runways on the Air Operations Area at Dulles Airport, Washington Reagan National  Airport & Baltimore Washington. Specials rules apply to accidents & injuries  on the AOA such that prompt investigation & preservation of evidence must take place as soon as possible.

Heavy Traffic on the Air Operations Area

Planes, tugs, cars, pedestrians, trucks, cushman carts & vans can crowd the runways on the Air Operations Area at Dulles Airport, Washington Reagan National Airport & Baltimore Washington. Specials rules apply to accidents & injuries on the AOA such that prompt investigation & preservation of evidence must take place as soon as possible.
Planes, tugs, cars, pedestrians, trucks, cushman carts & vans can crowd the runways on the Air Operations Area at Dulles Airport, Washington Reagan National Airport & Baltimore Washington. Specials rules apply to accidents & injuries on the AOA such that prompt investigation & preservation of evidence must take place as soon as possible.

With the increase in the number of flights, terminals, and international routes out of Dulles International Airport (“IAD”), there comes increased vehicle traffic, foot traffic, and aircraft traffic on the runways and around the gates of the Washington DC area airports. Airport workers must be extra careful when working on the “Air Operations Area,” the technical name for the runway areas and paved portions of the airport property that are beyond the “sterile,” TSA checkpoints. 

Because these workers cannot hear, because of large and engines, sometimes cannot see, because they work at night or in the early morning hours, cannot feel vibrations, because a large aircraft nearby, they are deprived of many of the senses that keep them safe at regular work place settings. That is why it is critical to secure competent, experienced legal counsel right away, as many lawyers do not know peculiar procedures that govern airport claims. For example, the regular county and city police are normally not allowed on the AOA to investigate accidents. Furthermore, the airport authority may call an accident record and “incident report.” ANd there are other aspects of airport injury claims that are specific to the Airport Operations Area. There are special time senssitive procedures that must be followed in order to get the evidence after an injury on airport grounds.

It is also critical to the success of the case to get witness information, secure evidence, and give the appropriate notice to the parties’ employer(s) and other involved authorities. Herndon lawyer Doug Landau seen many cases go down the drain because prompt action was not taken, or a lawyer did not get the evidence necessary to prove liability. Liability is the law’s way of saying, “whose fault was it ?” That is why the Herndon law firm ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd. seeks out the evidence necessary to prove clients’ legal claims and the harms they have sustained due to the unsafe decisions of others at the airport.  If you or someone you know or care for has been injured as the result of an airport runway, pre-flight inspection, Airport Operations Area, 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.

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.

IMG_3913

Crash Today, Trial Tomorrow

IMG_3913Despite being in a crash that left his vehicle inoperable, Doug Landau plans on going forward with tomorrow’s case in the District of Columbia for a client with severe cardiac impairment. To read more about the accident, in which Landau held onto the steering wheel while flying upside down, and to see pictures of the aftermath, go our sports injury site. Lawyer Landau was wearing his seatbelt, and was able to extricate himself from the driver’s seat. He clambered up the embankment and was able to help the responding State Troopers complete their investigation and reports.

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.

A simple injury caused by a fall on the Airport Operations Area may not be in "safe harbor" unless and until is is properly filed with the Workers Compensation Commission.

Injuries on the Airport Operations Area (AOA) Require Prompt Notice

Frequently airline employees who have been injured on the “Airport Operations Area” mistakenly believe that if they report an accident to their employer, or their employer’s insurance company, that they are “covered” under the Virginia workers Compensation Act.

A simple injury caused by a fall on the Airport Operations Area may not be in "safe harbor" unless and until is is properly filed with the Workers Compensation Commission.
A simple injury caused by a fall on the Airport Operations Area may not be in “safe harbor” unless and until is is properly filed with the Workers Compensation Commission.

Unfortunately, this is not always true. While Virginia law requires that prompt “Notice” be given to the employer (or their insurance company), The Act also mandate that the employee timely file a claim for benefits with the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission (The “VWCC”). To put it another way, just because an injured airport worker is getting compensation payments, does not mean that the government knows about the runway accident or that the claim has been timely filed.

It is incumbent upon the injured airport worker to file a claim.  Many prefer to get experienced legal counsel to do so. Evidence tends to suggest that when an injured airline or airport worker gets legal counsel EARLY in the case, that the claim is filed properly and later complications are avoided. Herndon airport injury lawyer Doug Landau has had to turn away permanently injured airline workers who failed to give notice of their injury or file their workers compensation claim within the Statute of Limitations. This legal time limit can eviscerate an otherwise viable workers comp claim. “The claim is not a lawsuit, and there is no filing fee,” adds lawyer Landau. “However the deadlines are quite strict, and claims have been lost because of the failure to timely reporting injuries and file Applications with the Workers Compensation Commission.”

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

Tough Luck if Struck by Luggage Tug, Tractor, Fuel Truck or Other Co-Worker on the AOA

Trucks, tugs, cushman, electric carts & food service vehicles on the Air Operations Area can be involved in accidents with each other, and with ground crew.  The ability of the injured victim to be compensated fully in many cases depends upon who employs the negligent driver.
Trucks, tugs, cushman, electric carts & food service vehicles on the Air Operations Area can be involved in accidents with each other, and with ground crew. The ability of the injured victim to be compensated fully in many cases depends upon who employs the negligent driver.

The Airport Operations Area (“AOA”) at major airports is usually bustling with jets, prop planes, trucks, tugs and electric vehicles.  When collisions between airport vehicles and workers on foot occur on the AOA, a workers compensation claim usually arises if there is an injury and disability from work.  However, the state comp claim does NOT provide for: all of the employee’s wage loss; physical pain; future raises and bonuses; lifetime earnings; loss of consortium; or emotional distress.  In some airport vehicle accident cases, the injured worker can bring not only a comp claim, but also a lawsuit for all of the harms caused by the Defendant driver’s negligence.

However, there is a huge exception, according to airport truck, tug and car crash lawyer Doug Landau.  If the driver of the vehicle that causes the injury to the airline ground worker or airport maintenance vehicle operator works for the same company as the disabled employee, then the claim is prevented by what is known as “the workers compensation bar.” In other words, in cases involving injuries caused by co-workers, the “exclusivity provision of the workers compensation law” applies, preventing lawsuits under Common Law against an employer who has paid for workers compensation coverage.  This means that in cases involving crashes between co-workers, the innocent victim is restricted to her limited workers compensation benefits.

As an example, if “Employee A” works for ABC Airlines and “Employee B” works for XYZ Airlines, and A smashes his luggage tug into B’s food service truck, causing permanent injuries, B could collect her comp benefits AND bring a lawsuit against A and ABC Airlines.  However, if B worked for ABC, then she would be limited to workers comp only, no matter how unsafe A’s driving may have been. Not all cases are so clear cut. Sometimes an unsafe driver who causes an injury on the AOA will claim that they work for the same company as the victim, in order to avoid legal responsibility for all of the losses they have caused.  Investigation be experienced airport injury counsel may reveal that in fact the Defendant and their victim work for different entities, because of the use of subsidiary airlines and alliance carriers. If you or someone you care for has been injured at an airport, please contact us at once.

Airport Safety Violations can Kill Even a “No Fault” Claim

Airport Safety Sign
If an airport grounds crew member sustains hearing loss or is struck by a luggage tag, he will still lose his workers’ compensation claim if he is found to be in violation of a known and enforced safety rule such as wearing ear protection and/or a reflective vest.

While workers’ compensation is considered a “no-fault” system, there are instances where the culpability of the injured worker is examined. In airport injury cases, normally the negligence of the injured worker is often not an issue. Intentionally inflicted injuries are a topic for another day.  A flight attendant or ground crew member can be clumsy yet still be awarded full workers’ compensation benefits for an accidental on the job injury.

However, if an airline ground crew member or airport employee disregards a known AND enforced safety rule, and was injured as a result, he or she is not entitled to any workers’ compensation benefits under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act.

This is known as the willful violation of safety rule defense.

Insurance companies will raise this defense in situations where the airport or airline worker failed to use available safety equipment, failed to follow standard operating procedures, left his or her duty station, was intoxicated or under the influence of narcotics or other illegal substances while at work, etc.

According to airport injury lawyer Doug Landau of the Herndon law firm Abrams Landau, Ltd., this defense must be raised well in advance of court. The willful violation defense may not be sprung on the injured worker at the 24th hour. A workers compensation insurance company lawyer cannot raise this potentially lethal defense less than a fortnight before the court date.

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