Last week it was announced that boxing legend Mike Tyson will not be charged for physically assaulting a passenger on a JetBlue flight who was harassing him. Tyson repeatedly punched the man, as shown on video, ultimately leaving him with bloody injuries (and perhaps a life lesson.)
San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe’s decision to not file any charges is rare as physical altercations on airplanes commonly result in charges. His decision also comes after the victim, Melvin Townsend III, requested that charges not be brought against Tyson for the April 20 confrontation.
But what if you were injured on a plane by someone who isn’t a world champion boxer and you hadn’t been harassing them?
With the summer travel season right around the corner, here is what legal action you can take if you find yourself hurt while on a plane.
Assaulted by another passenger?
If you are harassed or assaulted by another passenger, you can pursue civil claims against that individual for damages including physical injuries, emotional distress and property damage. Bringing claims against the airline, however, is more tricky.
Airlines are under a legal category called “common carriers,” meaning they are an entity that provides transportation for a fee. In this category, the flight crew is obligated under a heightened duty of care to protect all passengers from potential harm from the moment they board until they disembark the plane.
To bring a case against an airline for something another passenger did, you must prove the airline was negligent. Typically, an airline’s contract of carriage requires flight crew to remove rowdy passengers from a flight to protect others. Negligence can be claimed when they fail to follow that requirement, resulting in the injury of another passenger.
Their contract of carriage commonly protects them from civil liability for the actions of other passengers, so their negligence must be clearly indicative of the injury.
Hit by falling overhead luggage?
An estimated 4,500 people are injured each year from luggage falling out of overhead bins. If you find yourself to be one of these unlucky passengers, you may be able to file a claim for negligence. The airline crew could have failed to properly close the overhead bin, or the manufacturer of the overhead bin could have made a defective product, opening up an opportunity for a product liability claim.
Injured during turbulence?
Typically, the captain can predict turbulence and warn passengers by making an announcement and turning on the seat belt lights, instructing everyone to return to their seats and fasten their seat belts. If the flight crew failed to warn passengers about foreseen turbulence and you suffered injuries, the airline may be liable. If the pilot did not predict the turbulence but should have been able to, the airline could still be liable for injuries suffered.
Need help after suffering an in-flight injury?
If you were injured on a plane and need help resolving your case, contact the skilled personal injury lawyers at Custodio & Dubey LLP. With over 25 years of experience, our lawyers will guide you at every step of the way to help you receive the justice you deserve.