Eggshell Plaintiff and Aviation Cases
This may be surprising to many people and raise some concern, but the individuals who are most likely to suffer injuries while at an airport or on a plane are those who are elderly or disabled. We often believe that when we request the special needs services at the airport for our family, that the airport or airlines employees will take special care and provide the best equipment to guard against an injury to our loved one. However, while many of these employees are deeply caring and are well qualified, many times, our loved one still suffer severe injuries due to the negligence of the airlines or the companies they contract with to provide assistance. Many times, employees are undertrained, don’t follow procedures (with the knowledge of their supervisors), or equipment is not maintained or used in a negligent manner.
To make matters worse, when an elderly individual, or a disabled individual is involved in such an incident, they are more likely to suffer much injuries, including broken bones, hematoma, a broken hip, and in extreme cases, death. Unfortunately, when something like this occurs, many times the defendants seeks to limit their damages by pointing to the injured persons previous conditions or age. As such, the question arises as to whether a defendant is liable for the higher damages that can occur to an individual in these situations.
This question was examined in a Texas case called Otis Spunkmeyer, Inc. v. Blakely. In Otis Spunkmeyer, the victim suffered from a condition that affected the joints in her jaw. She was eating a cookie when she bit into a hard object. The impact of biting into this hard object interacted with the victim’s preexisting condition, and the victim’s jaw became swollen and extremely painful. The victim eventually had to have surgery to relieve her pain. The victim then sued the cookie company.
The cookie company argued that it should not be held liable for the victim’s injuries. The cookie company argued that the injuries were not foreseeable; that is to say, the cookie company had no way of predicting that one of its cookies would have something hard in it that would deeply affect someone with a jaw condition similar to the victim’s. The cookie company was basically arguing that the incident was all some kind of freak occurrence, and it should not be on the hook for massive damages.
The Court reasoned that “a tortfeasor takes the plaintiff as he finds her.” In other words, it does not matter that a victim may be hurt more severely than the average person in an injury. It does not matter whether the victim has a condition which worsen injuries, be it old age, hemophilia, or anything else. If the defendant was somehow negligent (meaning they did something that an average person would find to be unreasonable), the defendant will be exposed to liability for the victim’s injuries or any worsening of pre-existing injuries due to the incident.
In other words, it does not matter if a person is frail or old or has numerous health problems. If a person sustains injuries that were caused by or aggravated by the acts of airport or airline staff, they can very likely recover damages, depending on the facts of the case, no matter what physical condition they were in before, so long as they can prove that the new or aggravated injuries are related to the accident. An experienced aviation attorney can help such victims identify their injuries, show that their injuries were caused by the airport staff’s bad actions, and develop a case.
If you or a loved one have been injured, Call Carabin Shaw at 1.800.862.1260. We Can Help.