Who is Liable For An Injury At The Airport?

So, who is liable for an injury at the airport? Can you sue the airport authority for falling?

Generally, the airport’s management can be found liable when there has been negligence on their part. An individual newsstand store or restaurant operator might be responsible if a fall occurs inside their business. While mopping, if the custodial staff fails to put up cones, signs, or other warnings, the maintenance subcontractor may be the one to pay the claim. If the injury occurs in the air or other areas controlled by an airline they may be your target defendant. In addition, many airports have agreements where they tender the defense to the airlines for airport injuries at the gates, jetways, halls, bathrooms, etc.

In-flight injuries

When air travel injuries at the airport or in flight, it is important to know who is responsible, in order to make sure your case is brought against the correct defendant.

In flight, the most frequent calls to ABRAMS LANDAU’s air injury team are for falls caused by tripping, slipping, or spills (from hot coffee, tea, ramen noodles or soup). Several other injuries can come from beverage carts/food wagons running over feet and into ankles; getting slammed in the knees,;or even worse (remember what happened to Mikhail Baryshnikov in the movie “White Nights!”).  Overhead units on planes can also be a hazard if the aircraft maintenance team has not properly checked cabin interiors or replaced the overhead comfort unit. When there is a “hard landing” or bolts and screws are not replaced properly after maintenance, the heavy falling units can lead to traumatic brain injury.

Airport transport

Motor vehicle injuries at the airports are also occur when luggage tugs, midfield terminal busses and other travelers make unsafe decisions. If the harm is caused by a shuttle bus that’s operated by the airport authority, then the case is clearly against that defendant. On the other hand, if a rental company or hotel shuttle bus causes an accident, direct action against those companies would be appropriate. However, once past the “sterile area “and through the TSA checkpoint, transportation between the airport and getting onto your flight can be operated either by individual airlines or airport authorities, so it’s critical to determine whose vehicle it is EARLY in the claim investigation. Some DC area airports have subcontracted out the transportation of employees to a third party to take their personnel to the designated “employee parking” areas to insulate them from liability. Even if employees have clocked out finished shifts on board, they may still be eligible for Worker’s Compensation benefits if they were injured there and free parking was part of their employment package.

The most common cases 

A majority of calls we get from travelers are for slips, trips, and falls. The foreign environment of an airport, along with its many audible, visual, and tactile distractions, is a “perfect storm” for premises liability claims. With travelers pulling heavy carry-on luggage to avoid paying for checked bags and looking up at the changing boards for delays and other cryptic information, it is no wonder that airport users are subject to accidental injuries. With long corridors in busy loud terminals, overhead announcements, and polished floors, it is all too easy to trip or slip and fall.

Airport and airline workers who are outside on the ramps and terminals are subject to have the most distractions. Many of their senses get suppressed with the vast amount of moving objects around them.

Airport workers who are stationed outside on the ramp during adverse weather are often involved in common ramp injuries, which are slip and fall injuries. Accumulation of snow, ice, and de-icer spray, can increase the risk, especially while doing the physical labor ramp aviation work requires. In addition, with all the vehicles buzzing around an aircraft to get it out of the gate to maintain the airline’s “on time” status, there are multiple obstacles for workers and travelers who may not be able to hear above the engines’ roar, feel an approaching vehicle due to the vibrations from the jet or smell because of the spilled fuel, de-icer or exhaust blast.

If you or someone you know has been injured at an airport, especially after a fall caused by an unsafe condition, and there are questions as to what laws apply, please contact us at (703) 796–9055 or email frontdesk@landaulawshop.com