AIRLINE INCIDENT INFORMATION
Airlines in the U.S. are governed by the federal government’s Department of Transportation (DOT) through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). If you are injured on an airline flight then local, federal, or international law may apply depending upon the circumstances. John Gagliano is Board Certified in Aviation Law by the Florida Bar and Gagliano Law Offices handles major aviation injury and wrongful death cases across the United States.
This post provides some general information about the most common airline incidents. We encourage you to call or email for a free consultation if you or a family member has been injured. If you have experienced a cancelled flight, delays, lost baggage, discrimination, or another airline problem please make a complaint to the airline and follow-up with the FAA or DOT.
Airline Passenger Major Injuries
A major injury is a potentially permanent injury, an injury that requires surgery, an injury that caused you to miss work, or an injury that causes you to be unable to perform routine daily tasks that you accomplished regularly before you were injured.
When an injury occurs on an airline flight, the most important thing that a passenger must do right away is report the injury to the crew. Tell a flight attendant that you are injured and request immediate medical assistance if you need it. Do this immediately, before you debark from the plane. Be polite but ask for and record the flight attendant’s full name and ask for a report number. In addition, make a written complaint on the airline’s customer service website from your phone if you are able. If you already left the plane, stop at the airline’s customer service desk before you leave the airport and make a written complaint. Record the customer service agent’s full name.
Passengers who are injured on an airline flight have the burden of proof to show that the airline caused their injury. If you leave the airport without making a report of your injury on the flight, you will have a tough time proving your case in court.
If you have been injured on an airline and are forced to miss work or unable to perform daily tasks because of the injury, contact Gagliano Law Offices for a free consultation.
Airline Passenger Minor Injuries
Many people suffer minor injuries onboard airlines. If you properly reported your injury and you can prove that your injury occurred on the airline flight, seek compensation directly from the airline by contacting their customer service department. Under U.S. law, all airlines are required to have an easily accessible website where passengers can reach customer service. If the airline does not resolve your complaint in a reasonable time, then you can also file a complaint directly with the federal government. Use this link to file a complaint with the Department of Transportation. You can also consider Small Claims Court in your local area.
If you have a concern related to Aviation Safety or a Federal Aviation Regulation Violation, you can file a complaint with the FAA through the “FAA Hotline.” The FAA used to take complaints over the phone through their hotline, but now you can file a complaint online (or through the mail if you want). FAA Hotline Aviation Safety Reporting is available at this link. NOTE: If your report is not safety-related, the FAA may not respond to a complaint submitted to the hotline.
If you are a pilot, mechanic, or other aviation professional who has lost a job or faced retaliation on the job because of an aviation safety report that you made against your employer, you may have a legal claim. Employment claims, even aviation employment claims, are often governed by state and local law. We encourage you to seek an employment attorney who represents workers in your local area. If you are in South Florida or Eastern Pennsylvania, please contact Gagliano Law Offices for a referral to a trusted employment lawyer in your area.
Airline Discrimination and Passengers with a Disability
If you have suffered discrimination or are disabled and have not been given reasonable accommodations by an airline, begin by filing a complaint to the airline. Under U.S. law, all airlines are required to have an easily accessible website where passengers can file a complaint. You can also file a complaint with the Department of Transportation, but they will first send your complaint to the airline for resolution. Use this link to file a complaint with the Department of Transportation.
Airport Security Incidents
Airport security is provided by the federal government through the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Safety Administration (TSA). If you are injured or your property is damaged while passing through security, you can file a complaint directly with the TSA at this link.
The Department of Transportation has published a Consumer Guide to Air Travel. This guide is updated regularly, the link to the DOT’s Consumer Guide is here.
Delays, Baggage Issues, Refunds, Family Seating, and Other Issues
Airline delays, baggage, seating, refund, and reimbursement arise regularly; unfortunately, Gagliano Law Offices does not handle any of airline issues. You should seek compensation directly from the airline by contacting their customer service department. If the airline does not resolve your complaint in a reasonable time, then you can also file a complaint directly with the federal government. Use this link to file a complaint with the Department of Transportation. You can also consider Small Claims Court in your local area.
Small Claims Court
For aviation claims that are too small for a law firm to handle, Small Claims Court is available in most states. Small Claims Court allows a consumer to file a complaint for money damages against an airline without an attorney. The claim must be for an amount that is less than the court’s limit. The limit varies state-by-state and it changes from time to time to keep up with inflation. In most states, Small Claims Court limits are above $5,000 and under $12,000. Typically you will not need an attorney to file a claim in small claims court but you will have to pay a small fee. If you make a claim, you should keep all receipts, boarding passes, reports, or medical records to present to the court to prove your claim when your case is called for trial or a hearing.
If you don’t know the location of a small claims court near you then a Google search is a great way to find the court in your area and to learn the rules and limits for filing a claim. The DOT website provides useful information for passengers when considering a claim against an airline in Small Claims Court.
Gagliano Law Offices is a nation-wide boutique law firm that specializes in aviation cases. John J. Gagliano is Florida Bar Board Certified Aviation Lawyer. You can contact John directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The firm’s contact information is here.