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Can passengers sue the airline for in-flight injuries?

Can passengers sue the airline for in-flight injuries?

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2021 | Aviation Law |

A flight does not need to end in a catastrophic accident for passengers to be able to sue the airline. Passengers can also take legal action if they get injuries during their flight. In-flight injuries are not that common. Still, they do happen, and airlines must know in which situations a passenger can sue them for these injuries.


According to the Federal Aviation Administration, turbulence is the leading cause of injuries to airline passengers in nonfatal accidents. Passengers get hurt during turbulence because they don’t wear their seat belts when it happens. In that case, passengers can only sue the airline if they prove they didn’t know they had to wear them at the moment. This means that they can sue if the pilot or flight attendants were negligent and did not warn them, in any way, to fasten their seat belts.

Improper training

Airlines can also be subject to lawsuits if they don’t train their crew members properly. In addition to their initial training, crew members must have recurrent trainings because they tend to work with new equipment, procedures and modifications to the aircraft. If the airline does not train them constantly, flight attendants can make mistakes that injure passengers, like misusing the first-aid equipment.

Lack of policies and procedures

All airlines must establish safety policies and procedures to prevent injuries. Without them, the risk of in-flight injuries increases. Examples of safety policies include prohibiting the passengers from standing up while the plane is taking off or landing, putting safety instruction cards in each passenger’s seat or keeping the aisles clear at all times.

Proving negligence

Proving the airline’s negligence is necessary for all in-flight injury claims. A passenger cannot sue because they did something they shouldn’t have or did not hear the pilot’s or flight attendant´s warnings. If the passenger does not have proof of negligence, the airline will not have to compensate them for their injuries in any way.

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