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Can you claim for injuries suffered on a plane? The Montreal Convention and PI

A question that can frequently be asked in the world of personal injury work is one in relation to accidents that occur during the course of transit on a plane. Who is responsible? Who has jurisdiction? And what rights does a claimant have?

This is a matter that is often considered by personal injury practitioners but the answer is not necessarily one that is known. The correct legislation that governs this issue is known as the Montreal Convention and the UK is a signed party to this treaty making it enforceable under law in England and Wales.

The Montreal Convention provides a claimant with a cause of action, which is tortious in the UK, if they are injured during the course of air transit regardless of where in the world this took place or which nation’s airspace. The Montreal Convention is quite onerous on air carriers and provides them with a near strict liability regime for personal bodily injuries which occur within the aircraft.

The relevant section within the treaty for personal injury practitioners is under Article 17 of the Convention and states that an air carrier will be liable for the bodily injury of a passenger providing that the accident took place on board the aircraft or in the course of any of the operations of embarking or disembarking, which essentially provides no room for rebuttable by an air carrier as a Defendant where a claimant is able to prove the circumstances are applicable. The only question that remains something of a potential sticking point for claimants in bring an action under the Montreal Convention is what will be deemed as an accident.

This matter has been considered most recently in the case of Barclay v British Airways [2008] in which the term accident for the meaning of the Montreal Convention was given a definition. An accident is deemed to have been ‘a distinct event, not having been any part of the usual, normal and expected operation of the aircraft’, essentially meaning that there has to be a specific event beyond a passenger’s normal use of the aircraft, for example a spilt drink or perhaps the arising of a defect in the footway. Providing a claimant can satisfy these criteria then they will every right to bring a successful claim against an air carrier for any bodily injury suffered.

The important thing to note however is that the limitation date to bring a claim under the Montreal Convention is limited to 2 years and differs from usual standard of 3 years to bring a claim for personal injury in England and Wales.

Personal injury compensation claims with Hampson Hughes Solicitors

If you have been injured in an accident in an aircraft in the last two years then please contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors and we will be happy to provide you with advice. We will be happy to seek to pursue a claim on your behalf and we at Hampson Hughes will ensure we do everything we possibly can to ensure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve. For advice on all areas of Personal Injury, call Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888.

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