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Airplane Negligence: Where Premises and Product Liability Meet

June 27, 2019

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

A Pennsylvania man is in settlement talks with Southwest Airlines, and others, after he was injured on a plane. The man was on the infamous Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, in which a window cracked. One passenger died after being partially sucked out of the window, and Alan Meizlik suffered severe injuries. Both parties have agreed to attempt to come to a resolution before heading to litigation.

The case, although tragic, raises an interesting issue surrounding airplane accidents. These accidents most often combine product liability law with premises liability law. In Pennsylvania, product liability law states that manufacturers must ensure their products are safe to use. Premises liability law states that property owners, including airlines, must ensure their premises are safe for customers to enter. This recent case shows the clear connection between the two areas of law, but there are other common examples of airplane accidents that also combine the two.

Falling Baggage

Baggage is stowed overhead in just about all airplanes. The airline staff and crew members are responsible for ensuring this luggage is safely secured, so it doesn’t fall. If it does, it could hit passengers and cause severe injuries. When crew members fail to do this, it could indicate negligence.

However, manufacturers of the airplane and overhead bins must also ensure the compartments can safely store luggage. They must ensure the bins can hold a certain weight, and that the latches work properly. If they fail to do so, they can be held liable for an accident.

Food Carts

Food carts must also be safely secured when not in use. If there is even a little bit of turbulence on a flight, it could cause the food cart to veer uncontrollably down the aisles, or run into passengers. Both of these instances can cause significant injury.

Likewise, food cart manufacturers are also responsible for ensuring their carts are safe to be used on airplanes. If they crush a passenger because they are unstable, even under a flight attendant’s control, the manufacturer can be held liable for faulty design or other defects.

Slip and Falls

Just like anywhere else, unsafe conditions on an airplane can cause passengers to slip and fall. The airline is responsible for ensuring this doesn’t happen by providing lights along the floor, keeping the aisles clear, and cleaning up spills and hazards as soon as possible.

Airplane manufacturers on the other hand, are responsible for ensuring their floors are even, there are no tripping obstacles, and that the floor is a non-slippery material. When they fail to do this, passengers can hold them liable for slip and fall accidents.

Injured on a Plane? Call an Philadelphia and Allentown Personal Injury Lawyer Now

If you’ve been injured on an airplane, you don’t have to simply live with your injuries. You may be entitled to compensation and the Philadelphia and Allentown personal injury lawyers at van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim can help you get it. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 so we can review your case and determine if an airline or airplane manufacturer was at fault for your injuries.



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