Statute of Limitations for Airline Accidents
If an individual suffers an injury in an airport or airline accident, it is vital that the individual gets an experienced aviation attorney and starts putting together their case as soon as practical. There are many reasons for this. Airports and airplanes get renovated, removing whatever hazard caused the injuries. Witnesses forget vital information. Employees who were involved in the accident quit their jobs and become hard or impossible to track down. Injuries heal and become more difficult to match with underlying causes. What is more, as one individual in a recent case found, claims can become time-barred quicker than one might think.
In the case of Ramos v. American Airlines, Inc., a wheelchair service provider on an international flight was helping an individual get into the wheelchair. While the individual was climbing into the wheelchair, the wheelchair service provider allowed the wheelchair to roll right out from under the individual. The individual fell to the floor, and sustained serious injuries. At first glance, the individual would seem to have a winning case.
Unfortunately for the individual, the accident occurred on December 15, 2007. For some unknown reason, the individual waited for three years to file a lawsuit. The airline argued that the case was barred by something called the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations is essentially a time limit from when a individual was injured for the individual to get going and file a suit. Most accidents which occur on board an international flight are governed by a law called the Montreal Convention. The Montreal Convention has its own built-in statute of limitations, and basically says that if a individual of an accident governed by the Montreal Convention is not brought within two years, the right of a individual to receive damages is extinguished.
The airline’s logic was that, since the individual waited more than two years to file her lawsuit, she lost the right to seek damages for her injuries. The individual tried to argue that the Montreal Convention did not technically govern her claim, but the Court was convinced that, under the facts of her case, the Montreal Convention was controlling. As such, the Court dismissed the individual’s case.
Ramos v. American Airlines, Inc. provides a good example of what not to do in an aviation injury case. What happened to the individual was totally preventable – the individual could have easily filed a lawsuit years before she did, and due to the apparent strength of the facts surrounding the case, she could have probably won tens of thousands of dollars from the airline. Instead, she procrastinated and lost her ability to recover damages. What is more, virtually every type of airline claim has a statute of limitations. Even if your claim is not governed by the Montreal Convention, there is a statute of limitations, and it is in your interest to file your suit as soon as possible.
If you have been injured in an airline accident, do not delay. The statute of limitations may run out quicker than you think. Contact an experienced aviation attorney and get your case going without delay. Otherwise, you may one day wake up to find that your good claim that was once worth thousands of dollars is now time barred and worthless.
If you or a loved one have been injured, Call Carabin Shaw at 1.800.862.1260. We Can Help.