Who Is Liable for Injuries Sustained in a Plane? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

According to the National Safety Transportation Board, flying in a plane is actually safer than driving in a car. When most people think of injuries and airplanes, they usually think of plane crashes. And while victims and their families are legally able to pursue damages against airlines, plane manufacturers, or other liable parties, the more common causes of injury lawsuits occur because of injuries victims sustained for many other reasons besides crashes.

Overhead Luggage

One of the most common causes of in-flight injuries occurs as a result of luggage falling out of the overhead storage bins. In fact, national statistics show that each year, approximately 4,500 passengers are injured from falling luggage. If you have ever traveled on a plane, you are likely aware of the number of carry-on luggage that passengers carry on that are often packed full and barely make the weight limit, especially since most airlines now charge for checked baggage. A heavily packed carry-on suitcase falling from an overhead bin can cause fractures to a victim’s face, arms, and head, as well as deep lacerations and bruising.





Another common issue when traveling by plane is turbulence. Severe turbulence can suddenly turn a pleasant ride into a bumpy and stressful one. A sudden drop in altitude can cause a passenger who is not wearing a safety belt to be thrust up to the ceiling, resulting in fractured bones and concussions. If the captain or other members of the flight crew failed to give passengers adequate warning or turn the fastened seat belt sign on before the plane hit the turbulence, that could be legally deemed negligence.

Food and Drink Carts

Nowadays, planes are much narrower, leaving very little aisle room. When members of the flight crew are serving passengers food and beverages, there is always the possibility of the crew member losing control of the wheeled cart they use, resulting in the cart slamming into a passenger, causing injury.

When Is an Airline Liable?

The federal agency that oversees airlines is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It is the Federal Aviation Act that requires all airlines to always meet a high standard of operation. This means that the airline is responsible for any negligence on the part of an employee.

Airlines are not legally responsible for every injury an injury sustains on an airplane. There must be proof that the airline was in some way negligent and that negligent resulted in the passenger’s injury. Some of the critical items that the airline is responsible for include:

  • All equipment must be inspected on a regular basis and any issues quickly addressed
  • All pilots and flight crew members must have the proper training to ensure that passengers will have a safe flight

In some situations, the issue is caused by a defect caused in the design or productions of the plane. In these cases, the liable party would be the manufacturer, seller, or the party responsible for repairing the plane. An airline would also not be liable if the incident was caused by negligence on the part of air traffic controllers. 

Call a Carolinas Injury Attorney

If you have been injured during air travel, the legal team at Shapiro & Appleton can recover the financial compensation for the losses your injuries have caused. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation with one of our seasoned North Carolina personal injury attorneys and find out how we can help.