Can you sue for bad turbulence?

Turbulence on a flight to Darwin resulted in Mary having a bad back. Can she sue the airline?

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Q. Mary
I recently experienced bad turbulence during a flight to Darwin to visit some family. As the plane was being jolted, I felt immediate pain in my neck and upper back. I have never suffered from any back problems, but now even one month after the flight I am still in daily pain and have been taking painkillers. Can I sue the airline?

A. There is nothing to stop you from pursuing a case as you can file a lawsuit for any reason, but that does not mean that you will win.

Turbulence is largely beyond the control of the airline, which means that it is extremely difficult to prove negligence on their part. There are some cases where it is possible for the pilot to avoid turbulence by rerouting or changing altitude, but this is not always the case and is thus very difficult to prove.

Airlines are usually not liable for all events of turbulence and it is only if the turbulence is considered severe that liability for injuries would arise.

Under the Montreal Convention, an airline is strictly liable for any ‘accident’ occurring onboard or during embarkation or disembarkation of an aircraft. However, cases where injuries arising from turbulence have met the criteria for an accident have been few and far between.

If there were multiple people on your flight who suffered pain and injury from the turbulence on your flight you might have a better chance. However, if you were the only person to suffer discomfort after the flight, it isn’t likely that your law suit will prove successful.

Have you ever suffered an injury from turbulence on a flight? What is the worst experience you have ever had with turbulence?

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Written by Ben

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