Legal Guide

Injured at the Airport?

When people are injured at an airport, liability may fall on a number of entities including the airport manager, the airline, vendors, and even a contracting maintenance or custodial company. Filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the wrong defendant could cause the court to dismiss the case. If the statute of limitations expires in the meantime, victims could lose their right to pursue damages. 

Determining Liability for Airport Injuries

Although airports are typically responsible for accidents that happen in the parking lot or airport itself, determining liability for airport injuries is not always as simple as people may expect. In many cases, more than one entity may be held liable for a victim’s losses. Personal injury attorneys evaluate a number of factors to help clients determine who to sue. 

Where the Accident Happened

Many airports these days cover massive amounts of space and it is not uncommon for them to feature small restaurants, bars, retails stores, gyms, beauty and barber shops, and lounge areas. In some cases, these amenities are owned or managed by the airport. In other situations, however, vendors manage these areas. When injuries occur in a common space, like a walkway, waiting area, or bathroom, or they happen on an elevator, escalator, or people mover, the airport may be liable. Inside restaurants and stores, the franchise or small business owner may be liable for injuries. For injuries that happen on airplanes, however, responsibility for losses will generally fall on the airline.

What Factors Contributed to the Accident

There are a number of reasons accidents happen in airports and identifying all factors that contributed to a person’s injuries often requires careful evaluation. If a slip and fall accident happened in the airport lounge or bathroom, liability may fall on the airport or cleaning crew. If a wet floor in a food court caused someone to slip and fall, the airport, vendor, and custodial company may all be able to be held liable. However, if a defective ice machine leaked water into the food court where the traveler fell, liability may also fall onto the manufacturer of the machine or the maintenance company responsible for repairing it.

Who Was Responsible for Maintaining Safe Conditions

In some cases, airports contract work out to other agencies. For instance, the airport may hire an independent contractor to provide cleaning, maintenance, or even security services. Liability for injuries caused by negligent security may fall on the airport as well as the security company. Similarly, when a malfunctioning escalator or broken guardrail contributes to a person’s injuries, the maintenance company and airport may be determined to be responsible. 

Whether the Victim Played a Role in Causing His or Her Own Injuries

Sometimes, the injured victim’s own actions may play a role in his or her injuries. For example, if a person is walking and texting and falls into an unguarded construction hole in the parking lot, comparative negligence laws may reduce the victim’s injury settlement. However, since the hole was unguarded, the airport and the construction company may be liable, allowing the victim to still recover a substantial settlement. 

How the Montreal Agreement Applies to Airport Injury Cases

The Montreal Agreement is an international treaty that helps people recover damages from airlines when accidents happen. Under the agreement, people who are injured while on a plane, or while boarding or disembarking, can file a claim against the airline to recover damages regardless of fault. Since injured victims do not need to prove the airline’s negligence caused the injury, their claims may be limited to $150,000. If the victim’s personal injury lawyer can prove negligence on the part of the airline, however, victims may be able to exceed the limit. 

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