AIRLINE ACCIDENT COMPENSATION SOLICITORS - PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS
Our specialist personal injury lawyers are all members of the Solicitors Regulation Authority panel of personal injury experts who deal with airline accident claims using the no win no fee* scheme. We operate the no win no fee scheme otherwise known as a conditional fee agreement. No legal charge is payable unless the air accident case is won and the client obtains an award of compensation. In the event that the legal claim is lost there is no charge made to the client. For free advice on air accident claims just complete the contact form or email our offices or use the helpline. An airline accident compensation solicitor will discuss your claim on the telephone and after taking brief details will advise on liability issues and the potential value of the claim, without any further obligation.
Warsaw Convention & Montreal Convention
Since 1929 the regulations governing passenger compensation for aeroplane accidents on international flights were set out in the Warsaw Convention however parts of that document have become obsolete with time and it has now been partially superseded by the Montreal Convention which came into existence in 1999 and was ratified for EU states in 2004 and incorporated into UK law by virtue of the Carriage by Air Acts (Implementation of the Montreal Convention 1999) Order 2002. The Montreal Convention operates in a manner that benefits passenger by imposing strict liability on air travel carriers which means that passengers will be compensated without the necessity to prove that the air travel carrier has been negligent. It is merely necessary to show that a plane accident occurred and that the passenger was injured as a result. The most important provision under the new regulations is that damages payable by an airline to a passenger for injury are increased but are capped at less than £100,000 (a complicated calculation dependent on exchange rates etc). For the sake of convenience to the passenger a compensation claim can be pursued in the country where the airline is based or flying to, or the country where the injured passenger lives. Is should be noted that the Montreal Convention only applies in a ‘signatory country’ which has ratified and adopted the regulations however that now includes over 100 countries.
Definition of an Air Accident
There has been some dispute over the years as to exactly what constitutes an accident on an aircraft for the purposes of the Warsaw Convention however this was settled by the case of Air France v Saks 1985 where it was determined to be "an unusual and unexpected event or happening external to the passenger" and “not where the injury results from the passenger's own internal reaction to the usual, normal and expected operation of the aircraft” thereby excluding such issues as hysteria or deep vein thrombosis or hearing loss due to normal pressure changes which may be hazards of air travel but are not considered to be plane accidents by law. Claims can be made for injuries caused by aeroplane accidents in the following circumstances :-
- unexpected turbulence & motion
- falling luggage & duty free bottles
- overhead locker door collision
- burns and scalds from hot drinks
- aircraft crashes and collisions
- slips, trips & falls
Extent of Liability
The Montreal convention applies to international air travel and to any journey within the EU including domestic journeys within just one member country. A compensation claim for a plane accident under the Warsaw Convention or the Montreal Convention must be brought within two years of the incident. The Montreal Convention covers aeroplane passengers during embarkation, whilst travelling and during disembarkation for :-
- death or injury due to an ‘accident’
- flight delays or cancellations
- lost damages or delayed baggage
The Montreal Convention applies strict liability to airline companies and it is not necessary to prove negligence in order to make a personal injury claim. Even if another passenger caused the accident or if no one is to blame for the aeroplane accident, the airline company is still deemed to be responsible and must pay compensation for any personal injury. An aircraft claim will only be successful if the accident was not the fault of the person who is making the claim.
The Montreal Convention limits strict liability claims to a maximum figure of £100,000 however a potential claimant who wishes to pursue a plane accident claim over and above that figure against an airline company is entitled to issue proceedings in a court of law but must in due course prove negligence against the airline in order to justify payment of a higher amount. Lawyers advising clients on personal injury compensation claims for negligence often have choices, which can critically affect the level of damages awards, relating to which country legal action should be commenced, including the country of departure, the country of arrival, the airlines home location and in certain cases the aircraft manufactures home base. Great care should be taken by lawyers in the choice of location of the forum that hears the case.
Alternative Legal Action
If your flight was entirely within the borders of the UK and you suffered injury in an accident, it may be possible for airline accident compensation solicitors to issue legal proceedings for negligence in order to claim compensation for personal injury against the airline in the UK courts based on domestic law.
In the event that the flight in question is part of a package holiday it may be possible for airline accident compensation solicitors to take legal action for damages for personal injury using UK domestic law for breach of contract or for negligence or for breach of provisions in the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tour Regulations 1992, for holidays booked in the UK or through UK based travel agents or UK based tour operators.
Airline Accident Compensation Solicitors
The Montreal Convention and UK domestic law provide access to compensation not only for physical injury but also for mental trauma however a passenger who was not physically injured is not entitled to compensation for emotional distress, no matter how severe the emotional distress may be. Damages awarded in a personal injury compensation claim generally fall into two distinct categories :-
- This item represents compensation for quantifiable financial losses that have actually been incurred and do not require any degree of assessment :-
- past & future loss of earnings
- actual cost of care & assistance
- value if free care & assistance
- therapy charges & equipment costs
- cost of adapting accommodation
- cost of adapting private transport
- general expenses and other losses
- This item represents compensation that cannot be calculated on a precise mathematical basis and requires a degree of human assessment. Included in this category is the value of pain and suffering for physical trauma, emotional distress and psychiatric illness together with a figure valuing the loss of a particularly lifestyle and loss of congenial employment.
Delays & Cancellations
Whilst the Montreal Convention does contain provisions for compensation for late flights, passengers who suffer cancelled or delayed flights when flying to or from or within the European Union are better served by making a compensation claim based on EC Regulation 261/2004. The basic requirements are that the delay should not be because of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ and the passenger must have a confirmed flight and check in on time with compensation dependent on the extent of delay and the flight distance.
There are some seats that are safer than others. Choosing the right seat can reduce your chances of injury in a plane crash. The front row seats, whilst often being the most convenient, are statistically the most dangerous in a plane crash. Bulkhead row seats whilst giving extra legroom are also hazardous particularly to tall people because of the risk of the head hitting the bulkheads during severe turbulence or as a result of a sudden stop. The wing side seats are located in the strongest area of a plane and exit door seats are statistically the safest due to ease of egress in the event of an emergency. Seats facing video screens are hazardous in turbulence