Airline employees are trained professionals whose job is to ensure that passengers are safely transported from point A to point B. Since flying is widely known as the safest way to travel, most of the time these journeys go off without a hitch, but, unfortunately, injuries do happen. Injuries sustained by airline passengers have received quite a bit of pubic attention over the past few weeks, leaving many to wonder–what can you do if you are injured by an airline employee or another passenger?
Below, we’ll take a look at how airlines can be held liable for injuries to their passengers.
Airlines are Common Carriers
Airlines are common carriers that must exercise vigilance in all aspects of aviation, including maintenance, inspection, loading and unloading, boarding and disembarkation of the plane, and in-flight safety. A common carrier is a company that holds itself out to the general public for the transportation of goods or people and that operates under the authority of a regulatory body. In addition to airlines, common carriers include railroads, bus lines, taxi companies, cruise ships, and freight companies. By contrast, a private carrier is not licensed to offer services to the public and provide transport on an irregular basis only for their owners.
Duty of Common Carriers
Common carriers are held to a standard of “extraordinary care.”. This is a legal standard that is much higher than ordinary negligence, and means that, in actions for negligence and in cases of loss, the presumption is against the common carrier, and no excuse will be available to the common carrier unless the loss was the result of an act of God or public enemies. In Georgia, a common carrier cannot limit this liability except through an express contract between the carrier and the passenger. Thus, boilerplate limitations of liability written on tickets or through public statements by the carrier are insufficient to limit their liability.
While “extraordinary care” is a very high standard, it does not mean that common carriers are absolute insurers of their passengers’ safety. Common carriers are held to the standard of extraordinary care to protect the lives of their passengers, but they are not liable to them for injuries if they can show that they used such diligence in attempting to prevent the injury. Thus, if you suffer an in-flight injury, the legal presumption will be that the airline was negligent, unless they can show that they took extraordinary care to prevent your injury, which is a rather difficult standard to prove.
Contact an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney
If you were injured during a flight, you may be able to seek compensation from the airline. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation by calling 404.255.6677. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including Atlanta, Decatur, and Marietta.