I’ve Been Injured on an Airplane: What Country Do I Make a Claim In?

If you’ve been injured on an international flight, you can likely make a compensation claim in your home country. This is thanks to the Montreal Convention, a treaty which governs airplane accident claims. The rules are slightly different if you’ve been injured on a domestic flight.

Injured on an international flight

While air disasters are thankfully rare, airline passengers are still at risk of suffering physical injury. This can happen due to turbulence, hot liquid spills, slips, trips, and items falling from overhead lockers. Injuries can also arise due to poor maintenance, the actions of other passengers, and accidents involving the food/drinks cart.

If you’re injured through no fault of your own, you’re legally entitled to claim compensation for your damages. But what country should deal with the claim? After all, you probably flew through various air zones to reach your destination. The airline carrier may be based in another country entirely, all of which causes issues regarding jurisdiction.

That’s why the Montreal Convention was created in 1999 (although there was a former version of this treaty called the Warsaw Convention). This provides a unilateral legal framework for compensating the victims of airline accidents. Most countries have signed up to the Montreal Convention, including Canada, the USA, China, Australia and the UK.

The Montreal Convention states that if someone is injured on an international flight, they can bring a compensation claim in their home country, as long as the airline provides services to and from that country. This applies, even if they were on the domestic leg of the journey, or they were injured while embarking/disembarking the plane.

So, if you live in Canada and are injured on an airplane while travelling from Vancouver to London, you would bring a claim in Canada.

Making a claim under the Montreal Convention

Under the Montreal Convention, you have two years to bring a claim. You can only get compensation for your physical injuries. You may be able to get compensation for your psychological injuries, but only where they specifically resulted from your physical injury.

The Convention works on a strict liability regime. This means the airline is responsible for any damages that you sustain on an international flight, up to a certain value. A claim is made against the airline you flew with. You don’t actually have to prove that the airline or its crew were at fault. You just have to prove that you were injured and suffered damages.

Injured on a domestic flight

The rules are slightly different if you’re injured on a domestic flight. In this situation, the Montreal Convention does not apply. Instead, you will bring a claim against the party at fault for your injuries. This could be the airline carrier, the airport authorities or even another passenger. The burden is on you to prove their negligence.

The question of what country/province to bring the claim in is complicated. If you live in British Columbia and purchased a domestic flight in British Columbia, then you will likely to be able to bring a claim in the province of B.C. We recommend that you get expert legal advice to clarify the options available to you.

Vancouver personal injury lawyer

If you’ve been injured while travelling on an airplane, please contact our Vancouver personal injury lawyers to discuss your next steps. You have just two years to bring a claim, so early legal advice is essential.

To speak to our Vancouver personal injury lawyers, either fill in the free online enquiry form or call us on 604 684 0040.

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