In-Flight Injuries From Unexpected Turbulence

When flying, one of the scariest things for many people is turbulence. Although it rarely affects the plane’s ability to fly, it can make people worry about their safety.         

In many instances, the pilot will know that the turbulence is coming. When they do, the seat belt lights come on, and the crew stow things away to try and keep everyone safe. However, it is possible to suffer in-flight injuries from turbulence that was not expected. 

You could be injured by falling objects, hurt following a fall, scalded by a spilt hot drink or hurt by your seatbelt. If you can show that the airline or its employees were negligent and that you were injured as a result, you could be entitled to claim compensation. On the contrary if you were injured because you never followed the captain’s orders you would not be able to claim if an injury resulted. 

In-flight injuries from unexpected turbulence claims guide

In-flight injuries from unexpected turbulence claims guide

In this article, we will show you what amount of compensation might be paid for turbulence related injuries. We’ll also explain why turbulence occurs, what your rights are as an airline passenger, and we’ll provide some statistics relating to airline safety. Furthermore, we will show you how the claims process works and how legal representation can help.

Advice.co.uk are here to support you through the claims process. If you have any questions, our advisors will provide free legal advice. They also offer a no-obligation assessment of your case.

If your claim appears to have good grounds, we could refer you to a personal injury solicitor on our panel. Should they take your case on, they will represent you on a No Win No Fee basis.

To discuss how we can help you claim for in-flight injuries, call 0161 696 9685 today. Alternatively, to read more about suing an airline, please carry on reading.

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A Guide To In-Flight Injuries From Unexpected Turbulence

In this guide, we will provide statistics relating to airline safety and try to answer some common questions like:

  • Can you sue an airline for turbulence?
  • Has anyone ever died from turbulence?
  • Can a plane crash due to turbulence?
  • Is turbulence something to worry about?

As you might imagine, the fact that turbulence can happen unexpectedly means there’s not a lot an airline can do to prevent it. So, does that mean you can’t sue if you suffer in-flight injuries from turbulence? Not necessarily. This is because when an aircraft is approaching turbulent weather the captain should signal the seat belt sign, toilets should be closed and trolley service suspended. If this did not happen and you were injured because a hot drink was spilt on you as it was being served you may be able to claim compensation. 

In order to make a claim of this nature, it would have to be proven that the airline acted negligently. This could be the case if they knew that they were about to fly into turbulence but they failed to let the passengers and crew know. Therefore safety procedures like making the toilets out of bound will have not been followed. A passenger going to the toilet in turbulent weather could cause them serious injuries. 

If you are considering claiming for in-flight injuries because of turbulence, you will need evidence to show the airline’s negligence. This could include videos, photographs and witness statements. For example, if turbulence had been occurring for a while, and the seatbelt signs were not illuminated, a video of this could help prove negligence.

You should bear in mind that there are time limits for making a personal injury claim. For cases relating to injuries sustained on a plane, you’ll have 2 years to claim. This is lower than the normal 3-year time limit, so you should act as quickly as possible.

We can help you understand the process of claiming. Our free legal advice centre is manned by specialist advisors. They are happy to go through your claim with you and explain your options. If they believe you have a chance of claiming successfully, they could connect you with a No Win No Fee solicitor from our panel. Why not call today to find out your options?

Calculate Compensation For In-Flight Injuries From Turbulence

In this section, we are going to look at potential compensation figures. We have used a personal injury calculator table to show how much could be paid for different injuries. This head of your claim, which covers the pain, suffering and loss of amenity caused by your injuries, is called general damages. 

As each claim is unique, we would advise that you use our figures as guidance only. If your claim is accepted by a lawyer, they will be able to provide a more accurate estimate once they’ve gotten more details about your accident and the injuries you were left with.

Solicitors use the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) to help determine compensation figures. This data is what we’ve used to create the table below.

Edit
Injury Severity Settlement Range More Information
Jaw Simple £6,060 to £8,200 This bracket is for fractured jaws where a complete recovery is made but immobilisation was required.
Face Severe £27,940 to £91,350 This category is used for injuries that result in severe facial scarring. Your age will be considered and also the amount of cosmetic effect.
Neck Minor £4,080 to £7,410 This category is used for soft tissue injuries in the neck where full recovery takes place in a year or two.
Back Moderate £11,730 to £26,050 Injuries in this bracket include muscle damage that results in backache and soft tissue damage that accelerates pre-existing back injuries.
Arms Less Severe £18,020 to £36,770 Injuries in this section will result in significant disabilities. However, a good amount of recovery will be predicted or will have happened.
Legs Moderate £26,050 to £36,790 Covers complex or multiple fractures (in a single leg). The impact on your employment, extent of treatment and whether there is future vulnerability to further injury are factors that will be used to determine compensation levels.
Feet Serious £23,460 to £36,790 Covers injuries where there is prolonged treatment, the risk of future surgery and continuing pain from traumatic arthritis.

One factor that is important when awarding compensation is the severity of your injuries. Therefore, during the claims process, you may be required to attend a medical assessment. This can usually be booked locally, so you don’t need to travel too far.

Your assessment will be carried out by an independent specialist. They will usually begin by examining your injuries. Then they will discuss the ways in which you have been affected and may refer to your medical records.

After they have completed their assessment, they will arrive at a prognosis. This will be detailed in a report along with a list of injuries. The report will then be forwarded to your lawyer if you have opted to use one.

Special Damages For In-Flight Injuries From Turbulence

As well as claiming for any suffering caused by your injuries, you may also have to claim for financial losses too. This is known as the special damages head of your claim. Importantly, this isn’t a fine or penalty for the airline to pay. 

You are not allowed to benefit from special damages; instead, they are designed to put you back to the financial position you were in before your accident occurred.

As before, the damages will differ from case to case but you could request:

  • Medical expenses. These can be used to cover the cost of any treatment you had to pay for. Also, it could include prescription fees and the cost of other medications.
  • Travel costs. If you need to visit a hospital or medical centre, you might incur costs such as parking fees, public transport costs and fuel costs. All of these could be included in your special damages.
  • Care costs. If you need support with daily tasks while you recover, you could include an hourly rate for the person who cared for you. For more serious injuries, it may be that you need to claim back a professional carer’s fees.
  • Lost income. If your injuries stop you from working while you recover, you could ask for your lost earnings to be paid back. That could also be true if you need time off to attend medical appointments.
  • Future loss of earnings. Similarly, if you sustain an injury that affects your ability to work (in the long term), you could claim for future lost earnings as well. The amount awarded will be based on your salary, prospects and age.
  • Home or vehicle adaptations. Finally, if you become disabled following the accident, you might need to modify your home or vehicle. The cost of those changes could also be claimed.

What Are In-Flight Injuries From Unexpected Turbulence

In terms of making a personal injury claim following in-flight turbulence, you will need to show that:

  • The airline owed you a duty of care.
  • They or their staff were negligent in some way.
  • You became ill or injured as a result of the negligence.

Claimant’s don’t need to worry about proving duty of care, as it’s set out in legislation that we will discuss later. You will just need to concentrate on proving the airline’s negligence and your injuries.

To do this, we advise you to:

  • Report your injuries to the airline. It is important that your accident is recorded as the report can help to prove when the accident happened and what injuries you sustained.
  • Gather details of witnesses. Your lawyer may need to contact them to see if they can corroborate your allegations.
  • Photograph the cause of the accident. For instance, if luggage fell on you during unexpected turbulence because of a faulty locker catch, a picture (or video) could help with your claim.
  • Have your injuries treated. Going beyond first aid is important here. If you visit a hospital, you get will be assessed and treated by a medical professional. Not only will this make sure you get the treatment you need, but you could also request copies of your medical records to substantiate the extent of your injuries.

If you would like us to review the evidence you have, please contact our advice centre. A specialist will go through your case with you and explain if you could be entitled to compensation.

Airline Safety Statistics

In this section, we have included a graph that shows the number of reported injuries to both passengers and crew from 2009 to 2018 onboard UK aircraft in UK airspace. The figures are taken from the Department for Transport.

in-flight injuries from turbulence statistics graph

Common Types Of Turbulence

In this section, we are going to provide information on some of the different types of turbulence that can affect planes.

  • Clear air turbulence.
    Caused by wind shears in the jet stream and occurs outside of clouds.
  • Thermal turbulence.
    This is caused by a column of rising warm air that can result from cold air moving over the warm ground.
  • Temperature inversion turbulence.
    This can happen at the boundary of an inversion layer and the atmosphere around it.
  • Mechanical turbulence.
    This is where eddies of air are formed as air near the Earth’s surface passes over obstructions like buildings, mountains, hills and trees.
  • Frontal turbulence.
    Frontal turbulence is caused by sudden wind shifts between cold and warm air masses.
  • Mountain wave turbulence.
    This is where air travels down the side of a mountain and causes breaking airwaves.
  • Thunderstorm Turbulence.
    This is caused by downdrafts and updrafts that extend outside of visible thunderstorms.

We’ve provided this information as guidance only, as the type of turbulence that affected your flight isn’t too important. The foundation of your claim will be the fact that the airline’s negligence led to you being injured. For free legal advice on making your claim, why not contact our advisors today?

What Causes Airplane Turbulence?

Turbulence is part and parcel of flying. Generally, it’s not a great cause for concern and it is often nothing to worry about. It can be unpleasant and cause some people, especially those who are anxious flyers, to panic.

While you are in the air, your flight will be smooth if the air you’re in is travelling in the same direction as you at a constant rate. However, at times, the wind direction will change and cause your flight to encounter turbulence. A good comparison is a boat at sea that is buffeted by waves from different directions.

Modern planes are designed to withstand severe turbulence. So, while your flight might be made uncomfortable by turbulence, you should still arrive safely at your destination.

Airlines have a duty to prepare for turbulence, even if it can’t always be avoided. That means following safety protocols to try and prevent injuries. 

If you have been injured because your airline did not meet safety standards, you may be eligible to claim compensation. Therefore, please call today if you would like us to review your case for free.

Why Do Aircraft Encounter Unexpected Turbulence?

Modern planes and airports have fantastic technology that can help reduce the impact of bad weather or turbulence on a flight. There are also excellent communication channels that allow pilots to inform others of turbulence on a certain route.

However, despite the best planning, turbulence sometimes can’t be forecast. The first you’ll know about it is when the flight starts to get choppy. When this happens, you’ll usually see the seatbelt sign come on. In really bumpy conditions, the crew may also be told to stop serving refreshments until the flight is smooth again.

If you were injured when the aircraft you were on experienced turbulence because there was no warning from the cabin crew and the seatbelt sign wasn’t turned on, then you may be able to claim compensation. Speak to a helpful member of our team today to find out more.

Are More Aircraft Encountering Clear Air Turbulence?

A study has suggested that Clear Air Turbulence (CAT) will increase over the coming years due to climate change. That’s because vertical wind shears are expected to strengthen at the height that aircraft cruise at.

The report suggests that during the winter months, the amount of moderate or greater CAT occurrences will increase dramatically on transatlantic routes. The report based its figures on the doubling of carbon levels in the atmosphere. It estimates that moderate airspace turbulence could increase by as much as 94% if carbon levels rise that much.

Report: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00376-017-6268-2

How Can Passengers Avoid In-Flight Injuries From Turbulence?

As we have explained, turbulence is not generally dangerous. You can reduce your risk of in-flight injury because of turbulence by following some safety advice. This includes:

  • Ensuring your luggage is stowed in securely closed lockers.
  • Returning to your seat when the seatbelt sign illuminates.
  • Using your seatbelt whenever you are sat down, regardless of whether the safety light is on.
  • Placing your seatbelt over any blankets so crew members can be sure you are following the rules.

If you have been injured because of negligence during unexpected turbulence, we could help you claim. Please call our team today and we’ll guide you through the process.

International Air Passenger Rights

The Montreal Convention 1999 was introduced to standardise passenger rights, regardless of what country you are flying from or to. As well as establishing liability for personal injuries or deaths caused in-flight, the convention also provides cover if:

  • Your luggage is lost, damaged or destroyed.
  • You lose money due to delays or the cancellation of your flight.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a full understanding of the legislation involved.  A personal injury lawyer will know which rules apply in your case. So why don’t you give us a call today to see whether we can help? You will receive free legal advice from a specialist whether you decide to claim or not.

In-Flight Injuries From Unexpected Turbulence – No Win No Fee Claims

The thought of losing money that you’ve paid for legal representation might put you off from starting a claim. This could be the case if you choose a solicitor who charges you by the hour. However, the financial risks associated with paying solicitors’ fees will be lowered if you work with a No Win No Fee solicitor.

This is because they provide a No Win No Fee service for any claim that is accepted. Therefore, your claim could be a lot less stressful, but you will still get access to specialist legal representation. Your lawyer will discuss your claim in a free review at the start of the claims process. If they decide to work for you, they will supply you with a Conditional Fee Agreement (or CFA). This is the formal term for a No Win No Fee agreement.

It’s a contract that shows you what conditions must be met before your lawyer is paid. It will outline that:

Upfront payments are not required, which means your claim can begin quickly.
No lawyer’s fees will be requested while your claim is being handled.
If your claim does not succeed, you won’t have to pay lawyer’s fees at all.

Within the CFA, you will see a success fee listed. It will be expressed as a percentage of your compensation. The only time it will apply is if your case is won and compensation is paid. If this happens, your solicitor will deduct the success fee from your compensation to cover their costs. By law, success fees are capped.

Would you like us to check if you could make a claim with a No Win No Fee solicitor? If so, please get in touch with us today

Contact Us

You have almost reached the end of our article on claiming for in-flight injuries from turbulence. We can help you begin your claim wherever you are based in the UK. You can contact our specialists by:

  • Making a call to our free advice centre on 0161 696 9685.
  • Starting your claim online by completing this enquiry form.
  • Explaining how you were injured to an online advisor in live chat.

We aim to make the claims process as straightforward as possible. We won’t ask any unnecessarily complex questions when you call. Instead, you’ll be able to explain what happened in your own words. 

Your advisor will review the claim with you and give free legal advice about moving forward. If your claim is viable, we could appoint a personal injury lawyer from our panel to help you. Should they take your case on, they will work for you on a No Win No Fee basis.

More Information On Injury Claims Against Airlines

Thank you for visiting Advice.co.uk today. In our final section of this guide about claiming for in-flight injuries from turbulence, we are going to move on and share some resources that you may find useful. Please let us know if there is any more free legal advice that you need.

The Civil Aviation Authority – The CAA is the UK’s aviation regulator who works on implementing the highest safety standards.

Fear Of Flying – An article about overcoming a fear of flying from the charity Anxiety UK.

The Airports Act 1986 – Legislation that governs and regulates the use of airports.

Because our team can help with other types of compensation claims, we have added a few of our guides below.

Head Injury Accident Claims  – Advice on using a personal injury solicitor to help claim for a head injury.

Broken Wrist Injury Claims  – Have you broken your wrist in an accident that wasn’t your fault? If so, our guide could help you claim compensation.

Psychological Injury Claims  – This guide explains how you could be compensated if you’ve suffered from psychological injuries.

Thank you for reading our guide on in-flight injuries from turbulence.

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