Airport Accidents and Injuries: Who is Responsible?
We probably don’t think of airports as being dangerous places, or places where a lot of accidents or injuries occur. But when you step back and look at it, it’s actually quite a wonder why there aren’t more accidents in airports.
Airports are the perfect recipe for disaster. People are in a hurry, and distracted; they are looking at flight times, taking care of kids, and more worried about carrying bags or carry-ons, than looking at the floor beneath them.
Combine that with heavy crowds, and crowds that are carrying food and drink everywhere, and you can see why accidents are so prone to happen in airports.
Who is Liable?
So what happens if you are injured in an airport (not the plane itself—we are strictly talking about the actual airport terminal)?
The first question is who owns the area where you were injured. Most major airports are government owned, which means that you may be restricted to some degree from suing, by the doctrine of sovereign immunity, which applies whenever you sue a government agency.
Sovereign immunity means if you sue any form or arm of government or government agency (like an airport), you must give the government prior notice and the ability to negotiate and evaluate the case, before you can file your case in court and sue. If you do sue, you will be limited or capped on the amount of damages that you can recover.
Private Businesses in the Airport
But that’s not the end of the analysis, because although the airport may be government run and owned, that doesn’t mean that certain parts of it may not be owned, or controlled by private companies, and thus, capable of being sued just like any private property or business.
For example, many banks now have private lounge areas for their customers to wait inside of airports. The food court has a number of commercial restaurants in them. There are retail stores inside most major airports.
These may be areas where, if you are injured, you may sue both the government, but also the private company that owns the shop or area where you were injured.
Report the Accident
This is why, if you are injured in an airport, it is very important to report your accident immediately, and to document where the accident happened. You can be sure there may be a dispute over who owns or controls the area where you were injured.
Getting on and Off Planes
Often, people are injured when getting on or getting off of the planes themselves. For example, the walkway that leads to the airplane door may be slippery, or it may be uneven (that is, not line up properly) with the plane or the airport flooring.
There are international agreements that say that an airline is liable for these kinds of injuries, and that a victim need not show negligence to recover damages in some situations.
Injured in an airport? Call the West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys at Pike & Lustig today to see who may be liable to compensate you for your injuries.