In a case where grandma is going with her church group on a pilgrimage to the “holy land” from the local, regional airport, to the big city international hub, and she is injured on the domestic leg OR the international part of the journey, she may have rights and remedies under an international air travel treaty known as the Montreal Convention. This is because even her travel from South Carolina to DC, and then on to Tel Aviv, is all part of an “international itinerary” such that the Convention may apply for negligently caused injuries.
If grandma’s leg is badly broken in flight by a runaway beverage cart, it does not matter if the aircraft is flying over the continental United States or the Atlantic Ocean, Africa or the Middle East. The claim for damages for grandma’s medical bills, loss of her trip, permanent surgical scarring, permanent impairment and future medical care, orthopedic footwear and medication needs can be brought under the Montreal Convention. As an international air passenger, grandma’s rights would be determined under this treaty, and she may want to bring her case in the place where she bought her ticket (the “contract” of passage), where the Defendant airline is located, or where she was injured, if that can be ascertained (i.e. shortly after takeoff, near landing time, during taxiing on the runway, or looking up to the jetway at the airport gate).
One of the interesting things about the Treaty is that it does not matter where the medical treatment took place or where grandma’s ultimate destination was if she was unable to continue the trip after being injured. The laws vary from country to country regarding negligently inflicted injury and reimbursement, so the treaty was formulated to give some predictability to the international airline industry. By having a standardized set of rules, the air carriers can predict and insure against their exposures for losses during international travel.
It saves courts all over the world from applying different rules in similar situations. Plus, it enables air passengers to get redress in their “home” jurisdiction for injuries sustained in foreign countries, rather than having to fly back to the place where they may have been run over, knocked down, or scalded on board an aircraft. The Montreal Convention solves many problems with the practice and procedure of bringing claims for American air passengers who are injured on foreign aircraft or in faraway airports.
If you or someone you know or care for has been injured as the result of an airplane or other air travel related incident, during a domestic flight or during an international trip, and there are questions about what laws apply, e-mail or call us at ABRAMS LANDAU, LTD. (703-796-9555) at once.