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Posted by on Apr 30, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

What Happens If You’re Injured after Your Flight Is Grounded Due to a Natural Disaster?

The recent tragedy in Nepal has left thousands of travelers stranded, awaiting a route home as airlines and other carriers have focused on the evacuation of those most closely affected by the earthquake. If you’re injured after your flight has been re-routed due to a natural disaster, what are your options? What if your only “injury” is to your pocketbook–are you entitled to recover financial damages resulting from your unplanned layover?  Here is how some principles of personal injury law may apply if your flight has recently been re-routed, as well as the accommodations an airline is required to provide upon redirecting your flight.

What must an airline provide upon re-routing your flight?

If you’re traveling on a US carrier and your flight has been re-routed to an alternate airport (or even country), the airline is required to reimburse you for the unused value of your ticket. However, in many cases, you’ll also need to secure accommodations for an overnight stay before the next outgoing flight is available. In this situation, the airline may provide–however, depending upon the specific contract language contained on your ticket, you may be entitled only to a voucher for a reasonably priced hotel, rather than reimbursed for the full costs of the hotel you use. 

If your airline carrier has exempted ‘”acts of God” from the situations for which it is required to reimburse passengers, you may even need to provide your own hotel room. Using this rationale, because the natural disaster was caused by unforeseen elements, rather than the airline’s action (or failure to act) the airline should bear no financial responsibility for any resulting inconvenience. However, in an effort to improve customer relations, an airline may still opt to cover some of these costs.

Is the airline responsible for any injuries or financial damage you suffer as a result of a re-routed flight? 

If you’re injured while stationed at an alternate location, or if you miss a once-in-a-lifetime event because your flight has been re-routed, you may have a legal claim against the airline–but only in certain situations. 

In general, the airline will not be responsible for injuries (or financial damages) you’ve suffered if its course of conduct was deemed prudent and reasonable under the circumstances. For example, if your flight path took you through an earthquake-affected area and your plane needed to continue past the affected area to safely land, it’s likely this action will be deemed reasonable — and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to collect from the airline if you’re injured by a vehicle or suffer other injury while traveling to your temporary hotel. 

If the airline instead chose to land in a dangerous area, against guidance or professional recommendations, this can establish the negligence or recklessness needed to succeed in a personal injury lawsuit.  

What must you prove in able to recover damages from the airline?

If you feel your injury was due to the airline’s negligence or recklessness, you’ll need to establish a few things in order to recover damages. First, you’ll have to show that the airline owed you a duty of care. The specific language governing the airline’s duties should be on your ticket (or in the documentation you received along with your ticket), and should state that the airline takes responsibility for transporting you from your departing destination to your arrival destination. 

You’ll next need to establish that the airline breached this duty. Although breaches solely due to natural disasters or other acts of God won’t put the airline in violation of its duty, a mishandling of an otherwise routine disruption could constitute a breach. 

Finally, you’ll have to show that the airline’s breach of its duty of care directly caused your personal injury, or placed you in circumstances that caused you to be injured. For example, if you’re struck by a car while crossing the street from the airport to your hotel, your first cause of action will be against the car driver.

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Posted by on Apr 6, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Negligence Laws Lets You Sue For Damages In No-Contact Motorcycle Accidents

Although you may drive your motorcycle in a responsible way, the same can’t be said for other people on the road. If you take action to avoid hitting another vehicle and get into an accident, you can still sue for damages even if the other person doesn’t hit you. Here’s what you need to know about recovering compensation for damages in no-contact accidents.

Suing for Negligent Behavior

People have a legal duty to be careful of other drivers and operate their cars, trucks, and motorcycles in a safe manner when on the roadways. If they fail to do so, they may be found to be negligent and held liable for any and all outcomes that result from their actions (or failure to act).

To successfully sue for negligence in a no-contact accident, you must prove four elements:

  • The person had a duty to exercise reasonable care
  • The person failed to exercise said care
  • Their actions caused harm
  • The harm resulted in actual damages (e.g. physical injuries)

For instance, a person drifts into your lane because he or she was texting and not paying attention to the road. You stomp on the brakes or swerve to avoid hitting them but end up crashing into a tree. The person can be held liable for the damages caused and made to pay you compensation for your losses provided you can prove those losses are the direct result of the crash.

Challenges to Proving Your Case

The first challenge you’ll face is proving the person acted negligently. If the driver of the other vehicle has a valid reason for taking the action he or she did while on the road, the individual may be able to escape liability. For instance, if the person swerved into your lane to avoid hitting a child, they may be able to successfully use the Sudden Emergency Doctrine as a defense against charges of driving negligently.

The Sudden Emergency Doctrine removes the standard of care people must take in cases where they are suddenly faced with an emergency situation through no fault of their own. As long as the person can prove he or she acted the same as any other reasonable person would in similar circumstances, the individual typically won’t be held liable.

Without that assignment of liability, it can be difficult for you to make a case that the person should be responsible for your losses. You may still have a case, though, if the person’s actions were caused by a third-party (e.g. the individual swerved to avoid an oncoming drunk driver). In this situation, you can go after the third-party for your losses.

Another issue you’ll face is proving the events happened as you claimed. This will be particularly challenging if the other driver doesn’t stop and you don’t have any identifying information that could help you track down the perpetrator. Not only will it be difficult to sue the other person for compensation for damages, you may have a hard time convincing your insurance provider to pay your claim.

In this situation, you’ll need to find witnesses who will corroborate your story. These witnesses can be:

  • A passenger riding with you on the bike
  • People who stop to help you on the road
  • Video recordings taken by other drivers, security cameras, or traffic cameras

If you’re able, get the contact information of everyone at the scene of the accident so you, your insurance company, and/or your attorney can follow up with the people to get their version of events, which may help your case.

You should also make note of whether or not there were any traffic or security cameras that may have recorded the event. These digital records aren’t kept forever, so the sooner you can request the footage from surrounding businesses and the local government the better. Additionally, you may want to spend a little time looking on video sharing sites like YouTube to see if anyone recorded the event and uploaded it to the Internet.

For more information about litigating no-contact accidents or assistance with recovering damages in your case, contact a motorcycle attorney from a firm like Hinkle Law Offices in your area.

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