17 December 2015
A recent article in the Daily Telegraph caught our eye. It related to a British Airways passenger who was rushed to hospital after a bag fell from an overhead locker, hitting him on the head.
The aircraft had not left the UK when the accident occurred. It was at London Heathrow Airport awaiting take off on a flight to Bangkok. Paramedics attended the injured passenger on the aircraft and he was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
Accidents aboard an aircraft are not necessarily subject to the usual legal rules of the UK. If it is an international flight, then accidents are governed by the Montreal Convention, which is a treaty adopted by several countries in 1999. Article 17 of the Convention covers liability for personal injury and provides that:
“a carrier is liable for damage sustained in case of death or bodily injury of a passenger upon condition only that the accident which caused the death or injury took place on board the aircraft or in the course of any of the operations of embarking or disembarking”.
Normally it is necessary to prove negligence or a breach of statutory duty on the part of a defendant but under the Montreal Convention it is only necessary to prove that the claimant had “an accident which caused injury” whilst on board the aircraft, whether it is in the air or not, or in the course of embarking or disembarking.
However, it is important to remember that a claim brought under this Convention must be brought within two years of the accident and not three years as is normally the case.