Travel Accident Compensation Case Studies
AIR PASSENGER INJURED ON TRANSFER BUS AT INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Our client, SF, was an elderly gentleman travelling home from Italy after a prolonged holiday visiting family. During his flight connection in Asia, he had to board a shuttle bus from the aircraft to the airport terminal. During this bus transfer, the driver drove erratically. Although SF had been holding on, he could not maintain his grip when the driver took off suddenly. SF fell to the floor of the bus as a result, causing a severe injury to his knee.
As a result of the knee injury, SF went from being an active grandfather to having poor mobility and requiring extensive medical treatment. At a loss at what to do, he contacted Stacks Goudkamp for advice on his rights.
We identified that SF was injured during the process of disembarking his flight, and was therefore entitled to compensation for his injuries from the airline under the Montreal Convention even though the airline itself was not at fault. We submitted a claim to the airline on SF’s behalf, and once his injuries stabilised we obtained medical evidence to value his claim.
SF’s claim settled at an informal settlement conference with the airline’s insurers without the need to commence court proceedings. As the Montreal Convention is incorporated into Australian law, SF’s claim was resolved on a New South Wales basis even though the injuries occurred abroad.
SF secured a favourable lump sum which will allow him to pay for treatment and aids and equipment privately to regain his independence. He also now has peace of mind and closure from looking into his rights and obtaining a successful outcome, after initially not knowing where to turn.
TRIPPING ACCIDENT ON AEROBRIDGE CAUSES TORN LIGAMENT TO AIR PASSENGER
Our client, HA, was returning to Australia from the US on a long haul flight. She was travelling alone and the flight was full, causing congestion in the aerobridge. As our client queued along the aerobridge, she tripped on a raised part of the floor.
HA was embarrassed by her fall in front of so many passengers and did not make a fuss about her injury. However, during the flight her knee became increasingly tender, swollen and painful. By the time she arrived in Australia, she was in so much discomfort that she immediately saw her GP. HA was referred for scans and diagnosed with a torn ligament in her knee.
HA had to take time off work for her injury and was advised by her specialist that she needed surgery. In despair at the length of the public waiting list, HA contacted Stacks Goudkamp for advice on her legal rights.
The travel law team at Stacks Goudkamp submitted a claim to the airline on HA’s behalf under the Montreal Convention. We alleged that HA’s injury had been caused during the process of embarking the aircraft, and that she was therefore entitled to compensation from the airline on a ‘no fault’ basis.
The fact that HA had not reported her accident to cabin crew and did not have the contact details of any witnesses caused difficulty to her claim. However we obtained evidence that she had been fit and well when she checked into the flight, and that she had sought medical treatment for a knee injury as soon as she arrived in Australia.
The airline disputed liability on the basis that no ‘accident’ had occurred. However, we were able to settle the case on a compromised basis without the need to commence court proceedings. As a result, HA now has the funds to have surgery immediately on a private basis, and get her life back on track.
AIRCRAFT PASSENGER INJURED BOARDING PLANE
We successfully obtained compensation for LT who was injured in an accident whilst boarding a routine domestic flight at a small rural airport. At this particular airport, rather than walking on an aerobridge to board the aircraft, passengers such as LT had to walk out of the terminal building and board their flight via portable metal stairs. As LT walked up the metal staircase, she struck her foot on a piece of protruding metal, causing injury.
LT sustained a deep laceration that became infected, as well as a fracture to her toe. She needed extensive medical treatment and was unfit to work in her manual job for several weeks.
As LT was injured during the course of boarding the aircraft, we brought a claim against the airline, to include compensation for LT’s pain and suffering, loss of earnings and medical expenses. Court proceedings commenced within the two-year limitation period to protect LT’s rights, and we subsequently secured a generous settlement for LT at an informal settlement conference.
AIRLINE PASSENGER SUFFERS HEAD INJURY FROM DROPPED LUGGAGE
We were instructed by a father of two, James, who suffered a head injury on a long haul flight to Australia following a holiday in Europe. James had been enjoying the in-flight entertainment when a cabin crew member dropped a fellow passenger’s hand luggage from an overhead locker onto James’ head.
James sustained a head injury from the blow to the head and developed a psychiatric disorder.
As the accident occurred during an international flight, James’ claim was subject to the Montreal Convention. The Defendant airline was not willing to negotiate a settlement, and court proceedings were, therefore, commenced within the two-year limitation period in James’ home jurisdiction of NSW.
A primary obstacle in James’ case was his claim for the psychiatric disorder which he developed. The airline argued that this was not compensable, as only ‘bodily injury’ is compensable under the Montreal Convention.
We obtained medical evidence which found that the nature of James’ psychiatric injury was a ‘bodily injury’ because of the effect that it had on James’ brain. We also argued that psychiatric injuries are compensable under the Montreal Convention, in light of a line of case law in both Australian and foreign Courts.
The airline claim ultimately conceded that there was a risk that they would lose this interpretation of the Montreal Convention at trial. The claim resolved at mediation for a favourable outcome for James.
LIGHT AIRCRAFT CRASH CAUSED BY ENGINE FAILURE
We acted for two young search and rescue volunteers, A & S, who were passengers in a one engine Cessna aeroplane in its search for another light plane which had gone missing in the Camden area, just outside Sydney.
Our clients occupied the rear seat as the Cessna flew over the Warragamba Dam and then over heavily timbered country in that region. Suddenly there was a complete engine failure. There was nowhere for the plane to land, other than in trees. On impact, all on board were killed except A and S.
A suffered a serious spinal injury, whilst S sustained significant abdominal injuries.
Fortunately, pieces of the engine were retrieved from the scene. These were examined and revealed that the torque setting applied to the connecting rod bolt by a flight engineer some 800 flying hours before the accident was inappropriate.
The engineer gave evidence at the Coroner’s inquest that he was simply following the service manual published by the manufacturer of the plane, Telydene Continental from Mobile, Alabama. Updated settings had not been sent by Telydene to update the service manual.
The wrong torque setting caused microscopic fretting of the metal which ultimately led to the catastrophic engine failure.
In conjunction with Alabama lawyers, we sued Telydene Continental in Alabama on A and S’s behalf just days before the limitation period in Alabama expired i.e. 12 months from the date of the accident.
The defence lawyers convened a mediation in Los Angeles a few weeks before the trial was due to commence. Our Tom Goudkamp attended the mediation with A and S and our US attorneys. The case settled at mediation on very favourable terms for our clients.
PASSENGER INJURED BOARDING PLANE
We acted for an elderly, vision-impaired lady who tripped on a defective walkway as she boarded a domestic flight at a major airport in Australia. Our client sustained a serious injury to her hip in the accident, and her injury caused her to lose a great deal of confidence.
We became involved in the matter very early on and negotiated directly with the airline responsible. The airline had paid a small amount to our client for some of her early expenses but ultimately ignored our client’s claim for several months.
We did not back down and continued to place pressure on the airline. Ultimately, we were able to negotiate a generous settlement for our client which will provide her with some financial security and also act as an acknowledgement of her pain and suffering ever since the accident.
AIR TRAVELLER INJURED BY DEFECTIVE SEAT
Our client injured herself when she sat on a defective seat at the Qantas terminal at Sydney Airport. The seat collapsed underneath her, causing her immediate pain and multiple orthopaedic and soft tissue injuries. We resolved the claim during settlement negotiations with the airline’s lawyers for a very satisfactory sum.