Work on the Air Operations Area (“AOA”) can be hazardous. Workers injured while getting jets ready for their next flight usually have a workers’ compensation claim with their employer. However, when an airline employee is harmed by the unsafe conduct of an airport worker employed by a different company, the injured victim may also have a case against the negligent person and their employers according to Washington Dulles (“IAD”) and Reagan National (“DCA”) Airports lawyer Doug Landau, of the Herndon law firm Abrams Landau, Ltd.
For example, if an airline baggage loader slipped and fell during a late night shift at IAD on jet fuel carelessly spilled by workers of another company, the airline employee would be able to get their medical bills covered by their own employer’s workers’ comp insurance company, partial wage replacement, reimbursement for travel, prescriptions, etc., and potential future permanency payments as well. In addition, this disabled airline worker could also bring a claim against the fuel truck operator and their employer for “negligence.” This claim is not required, but the losses a negligence case can cover are far greater than the limited medical bill payment and partial wage replacement benefits allowed under the Workers’ Comp laws of many states. Continue reading →
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 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.
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (“MWAA”), the organization that manages Dulles International and Reagan National airports, is considering an animal import center for unused acreage at Dulles Airport.
A Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority spokeswoman confirmed this week that there have been discussions regarding an imported animal quarantine center at Dulles. Prior to being released to their owners, animals that enter the United States must be tested, and isolated for several weeks, in order to ensure they are free of diseases and parasites that could harm American livestock and poultry.
The only two facilities on the East Coast where imported animals are cared for and tested during isolation are in New York and Miami, according to news reports. The Virginia equine industry would like to see a third location in Virginia, namely at Dulles. This is not a new development. MWAA officials have been exploring opportunities to develop nearly 430 acres of Dulles airport property known as the “Western Lands” for years. Monetizing the Western Lands is part of MWAA’s strategy to produce non-aeronautical revenue to help offset billions in debt and the lagging airport traffic at Dulles, which is located in Loudoun County.
Loudoun houses more horses than any county in Virginia with approximately 15,000, and the equine industry creates nearly $140 million in annual economic activity, according to a 2015 University of Virginia study using 2013 statistics. “This animal import facility would help the Virginia equestrian industry, potentially increase equestrian-related tourism in the region, and would benefit Dulles Airport by adding to traffic in horses and related good product.
A model for the facility at Dulles could be the new, $50 million animal import center in New York – “The Ark” at JFK. With construction almost complete, the ARK will be the world’s only privately-owned animal handling cargo terminal and USDA-approved, full-service 24-hour airport quarantine facility for the import and export of horses, pets, birds and livestock, according to its website. However, Dulles Airport care attorney Doug Landau points out that the Virginia International airport has the advantage of being centrally located on the East Coast, with long runways and significant undeveloped acre in close proximity to the Middleburg and Charlottesville horse farms, as well as the nearby University of Virginia Equine Center. Clearly the “Western Lands” should be utilized in conjunction with Airport business so that the synergy can benefit MWAA, Loudoun County and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
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.
Learning about airport injury lawyer Doug Landau from the extensive writing on the internet, this Herndon resident was still suffering from his orthopedic and neurological injuries over a year after a ramp had blown over in a storm while this diminutive gentleman was directing airline passengers where to go to smaller regional jets and prop planes.
In addition to a traumatic brain injury (“TBI”) this airport worker sustained a vision impact as well as a fractured jaw and ankle. Over 15 months post-injury, he had still not returned to any form of work, and was still treating with multiple medical specialists.
However, lawyer Landau was not pleased to see that this intelligent gentleman had not taken any steps to make the best of his situation.
The injured airport worker had not registered with any state, local, or federal agency in order to pursue training, education, or job placement.
Because his English was so poor, it was hard to understand the claimant. Had he used the time he was off work and receiving wage replacement benefits from his airport employer’s workers comp insurance company, this young man could have really helped himself and his family by becoming fluent in English. Instead, this Ethiopian permanent US resident is worse off for becoming “deconditioned,” out of work for over a year (a big “red flag” for many potential employers).
In addition, this misguided employee let the insurance company’s “nurse case manager” have her way with his treating doctors such that medical tests, treatment, therapy, and needed notes were either not approved or ignored.
In short, by not making the most of his situation and being proactive with an experienced workers compensation lawyer, this young man is unemployed, unwell, unable to speak the language of the country where he has chosen to live, and unlikely to get a job doing anything in the near future.
At the Herndon law firm ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd., we give “homework” to our clients and their families in order to prevent them from having to play “catch up.” It is better to anticipate problems in a case and acknowledge the realities of an on the job injury claim. Sometimes airport clients cannot return to their old jobs, sometimes they cannot even return to work in any capacity for the airlines with whom they had worked for many years. Sometimes a workplace injury will require an airport worker to learn new skills, find a job away from the AOA and even go back to school.
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.
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.”
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).”
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.”
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.
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.
“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).
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).
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