Commercial air travel has become the norm.
In one moment we can be in sipping coffee in Nashville, and several hours later we can be on a beach in Thailand.
The world is smaller than it's ever been, and we have access to the entire globe at our fingertips.
We can see in one day as much as earlier generations would see in a lifetime.
There are roughly 100,000 commercial flights around the world every single day.
That doesn't include general aviation, military, or cargo shipments!
However, nothing is perfect, and there are risks involved when you board an airplane.
In general, for Georgia and Tennessee residents, flying is still safer than driving.
For every 100 million miles driven, there are 1.27 fatalities and 80 injuries, while there are no deaths and practically zero injuries for every 100 million miles flown.
Deaths caused by flying are extremely rare. But, there is the "invisible" threat we have to deal with when we fly.
Most of the time it's just nerve-racking, but it can lead to injuries if not handled properly.
I'm talking about turbulence.
And since The Roth Firm is located in Atlanta, Georgia, home of the busiest airport in the world, the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport with over 104 million passengers annually, we figured it would be important to share information about turbulence-related injuries
What is turbulence?
The FAA defines turbulence as "air movement that normally cannot be seen and often occurs unexpectedly."
Three occurrences cause turbulence.
- When warm air travels through the cool air
- When a mountain or man-made structure alters the air flow
- Shear that occurs at the border of two pockets of conversely moving air.
Turbulence is normal, and your pilot is trained to deal with it and is expecting to have to deal with it.
Every airplane is designed to handle massive amounts of turbulence while it's in flight.
Turbulence might wreak havoc on your nerves and cause some discomfort, but it alone will not cause your plane to crash.
The pilots and airlines can also prepare for turbulence. If need be, flight paths can be changed, and flights can be delayed if there is known turbulence in the area.
As soon as a pilot experiences any turbulence during his flight, they alert air traffic control to let them know about it.
This information is then used to plan future flights, and warn other pilots flying through the same area.
As a general rule of thumb, turbulence is nothing to worry about. It's like coming across a wave in the ocean.
However, there are instances when turbulence has caused problems.
Turbulence related injuries
The Federal Administration of Aviation reports that about 58 people are injured every year due to turbulence.
From 1980 to 2008, the FAA recorded 234 turbulence incidents. These incidents resulted in 298 serious injuries and three deaths.
Flight attendants accounted for the bulk of the injuries, at 184, while passengers accounted for 114.
Two of the three deaths were due to people not being in their seat belt. These numbers could be even higher because the airlines are not required to report every incidence.
They only have to report injuries that require at least a two-day hospital stay.
Broken bones and even internal injuries could go unreported because of this.
Who's Responsible for Turbulence Injuries
Now it's time to determine who's at fault when these Georgia and Tennessee incidents happen.
In most cases, the airlines refer to occurrences of turbulence as "acts of God."
This means that there's nothing that they could have done to prevent it.
Similar to a tree falling on your house during a hurricane, or your car getting struck by lightning. There's little you can do to keep those things from happening.
The airlines can't always predict turbulence, and if the staff does everything in their power to protect the passengers, they aren't likely to be held liable for the incident.
But, the airlines still have to do their due diligence, and can't always hide behind that excuse.
If the airline knew the turbulence was coming, but they didn't turn on the seatbelt sign or warn the passengers, they could be held liable.
The flight attendants should keep everything secure during the turbulence, including food carts and overhead luggage.
Passengers can't blame the airline for the occurrence of turbulence, but it can hold them responsible if they were negligent during it.
An airline employee can also be held responsible for your injury.
If an employee didn't secure a food cart or the overhead bin or even fell on you during the turbulence, they might be held responsible.
You have to prove that the employee was negligent and that their negligence caused your injury.
A product manufacturer might also be responsible for your turbulence related injury.
They could be responsible if a cart with a faulty wheel rammed into you, your seatbelt buckle was defective, or the latch on the overhead bin broke, dumping luggage on top of you.
Your claim would either be against the manufacturer for providing a defective product, or with the airline for giving insufficient maintenance.
In rare cases, the FAA can be at fault.
They must monitor the skies and be sure no airplane is sent on a dangerous flight path.
Remember, the FAA is a government agency and must be treated as such if you try to file a lawsuit against them.
An extreme example
Recently, a flight traveling from Miami to Buenos Aires experienced severe turbulence, leaving 15 passengers injured.
Seven of the injured were treated at the airport when it landed, and eight were taken to the hospital.
Once the plane crossed the turbulence zone, the flight crew immediately assisted the injured passengers and helped calm down everyone else.The plane made an emergency landing so the injured passengers could be taken care of.
Even though this is an extreme example, it still proves that things like this are possible.
While the airline and flight crew possibly did everything in their power to help the passengers and reduce injury, there might have been injuries that were preventable.
That's why if something like this ever happens to you in Georgia or Tennessee, you should contact a skilled lawyer as soon as possible.
You want to be sure you get the compensation you deserve, and you aren't stuck with medical bills you can't afford.
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