If you have traveled by plane, it is likely that you have experienced some level of air turbulence. Airplane turbulence can be minor, such as feeling slight bumps, or it can be severe. Clear air turbulence can cause the plane to drop in mid-flight, usually no more than 100 feet. Most turbulence is minor, and injury is not very common. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says approximately 58 fliers are injured per year.

Sudden jolts from turbulence can cause overhead bins to open unexpectedly, sometimes spilling the contents onto passengers below. Food and beverage carts are also known for causing serious injury during turbulence. For passengers who are not wearing their safety belts, air turbulence can cause minor or severe injuries.

What are Some Common In-Flight Injuries?

Head injuries are common in-flight injuries in relation to turbulence. Whether the injury occurs from falling luggage, or from losing balance, head injuries can be serious. Food and beverage carts may be uplifted and land on crew members or passengers in the near vicinity.

Possible contusions, broken bones, sprained ankles, and other injuries may occur, particularly in clear air turbulence. The best way to prevent injury, is to stay seated and adhere to the Captain’s seat belt warning.

What Legal Claims Do I Have?

If you have been injured by in-flight turbulence, you may have claims related to negligence and aviation products liability. Both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the airline itself have a duty to keep passengers safe. If, for some reason that duty is breached and you were injured as a result, you may be able to sue for negligence.

The airline and the manufacturer of the plane may also be liable for any defective or poorly made parts of the airplane. For instance, if a faulty latch on a lavatory cabinet caused it to fly open and it injured a passenger, the airline and/or the manufacturer may be liable.

An “Act of God” is an occurrence that will not hold people or entities liable for what it caused. Turbulence is considered an Act of God. However, if a foreseeable negligent act, e.g., not securing an overhead bin, causes injury because of the turbulence, there may be a liability claim.

Should I Contact the Federal Aviation Administration?

If you know of any threat to the safety of others, you should report it to the FAA, as well as the airline. It’s important to make it clear to the airline that you suffered an injury, and give them a chance to respond. In situations where it was clearly a fault of the airline and/or its crew, the company will be more likely to settle and compensate you for any medical bills you might have incurred.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you have been injured as a result of airplane turbulence, you should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced attorney will be able to help you build your case, provide guidance throughout the legal process, and represent your best interests in court.