I recently traveled on a domestic flight and we encountered turbulence which caused some minor injuries. Is the airline liable?

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I recently traveled on a domestic flight and we encountered sudden turbulence. As I was trying to return to my seat, the drink cart got loose and hit me in the legs. My slacks were ripped and my injuries consisted of cuts and bruises.  What is the liability of the airline?



An airline is liable to its passengers for an aircraft accident based upon its contract with the passengers, or an implied or express warranty regarding the safety of its aircraft.  They may also be liable to its passengers for delays, discrimination or wrongful expulsion.  The airline may further be liable for its negligence or for the negligence of its employees.

A 1998 study showed that up to 32 percent of flight attendant injuries come from drink cart accidents.  While flight attendants are covered by workers’ compensation while on the job, passengers are not so lucky.  Early cases were banned from prosecution through the 1978 Airline Deregulation Act.  However, more recent Supreme Court rulings have opened this area to litigation, allowing passengers involved in an airplane injury to attempt to collect damages for their beverage cart injuries.

In your particular case, it is the duty of the flight attendants to keep the drink carts secure at all times.  You may be able to recover damages depending on the severity of your injuries.  I would recommend that you consult with an attorney who specializes in aviation law.