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Unexpected Turbulence Injury Claims Guide Can I Claim Compensation For Unexpected Turbulence? How To Claim Flight Accident Injuries

What is turbulence? What causes turbulence on a plane? Do you feel less turbulence on bigger planes? The answer to these questions and more are answered in the guide below.

Unexpected turbulence compensation claims guide

Unexpected turbulence compensation claims guide

Turbulence is one of the biggest cause of anxiety for airline passengers. However, flying through turbulence is extremely unlikely to put the safety of the aircraft in question. In most instances, turbulence is an inconvenience to crew and passengers and if unexpected, it can be a cause of injuries and accidents.

Looking at examples of turbulence injuries statistics as reported to the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK, in 2016 there were;

  • 1,370 instances of planes encountering turbulence.
  • Of these cases, 98% were either very low or low in severity.
  • 39 instances of turbulence lead to passengers suffering minor forms of injury. These were (generally) caused by burns from hot drinks being spilled as well as bruises and bumps.
  • 87% of turbulence-related injuries happened when the aircraft was cruising, as this is when passengers were not wearing seatbelts and moving about the aircraft cabin.

In this guide, we look at what turbulence is, what causes it, what you could do to stay safe in an aircraft cabin as well as how to claim compensation for turbulence with a personal injury solicitor.

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A Guide To Claiming Compensation For Unexpected Turbulence

Flying has been consistently shown to be one of, if not the, safest ways to travel. It may not always feel this way but simple statistics show how safe it is. For example, figures for the United States show that for every one billion passenger miles travelled there are 7.28 deaths in car accidents, but just 0.07 air passenger deaths.

If you or a loved one has been injured because of inflight turbulence, you could be able to claim compensation. Air travel is extremely common, however, whilst turbulence may not pose any danger to the aircraft itself, it can pose a danger to the passengers onboard, especially if it is not expected and you are not prepared for it, such as not wearing your seatbelt. People can be injured by falling luggage or by other people being violently flung about the cabin. If this has happened to you or someone you were travelling with, you may be able to make a personal injury claim.

What Is Turbulence?

The first question which we should answer before going ahead is to look at what exactly turbulence is. We should begin by saying that turbulence in flight is mostly a perfectly normal part of flying and in general it is nothing to worry about. Whilst turbulence anxiety is very understandable, what airline passengers should know is that in many cases if an aircraft did not have any passengers, the flight crew may not even seek to avoid turbulence.

Generally, the airflows which planes travel on are smooth and allow for an easy flight. However, this air can become ‘choppy’ at times and subsequently cause your plane to sway, fall, or rise unexpectedly. You can visualise this by thinking of a boat on the ocean. These areas of ‘rougher air’ are caused by three types of interference, shear, mechanical and thermal interference.

Remember, whilst turbulence anxiety is understandable, aircraft are designed to withstand severe turbulence seen in the worst turbulence areas in the world. Aircraft are designed to withstand large amounts of stress and to navigate extreme turbulence. Your plane will not be flipped over, nor flung from the air. Whilst unexpected severe turbulence could cause discomfort or it could even cause you injury, it is not dangerous to the aircraft.

Today, aircraft are designed to withstand many extreme situations, even winds strong enough to bend the wing by 90 degrees. If you need to make a personal injury claim for compensation for turbulence, talk to a personal injury solicitor today.

What Is Clear Air Or Unexpected Turbulence?

Clear air turbulence (often abbreviated to CAT) is more common in winter months and can strike at any point in a flight. If it happens whilst people are moving around the cabin, passengers or crew could be seriously injured as the aircraft is buffeted hundreds of feet causing people and items to be violently thrown about. So, what causes clear air turbulence, and it is dangerous?

What causes (CAT) turbulence when flying is virtually impossible for either the pilot or the aircraft’s instrumentation to detect. Therefore, it is almost impossible to avoid. Clear air turbulence is caused by the rapid change in the speed of winds at the edge of a jetstream. There are two main types of clear air turbulence. These are;

  1. Mechanical CAT which is disruption of the horizontal smooth flow of air over the craft.
  2. Thermal CAT where in an unstable atmosphere, vertical currents of air disrupt the flight.

If you need to claim compensation for unexpected turbulence, talking to a personal injury solicitor can help you to see what steps you need to take.

What Are The Main Causes Of Turbulence?

Next, we look further into what causes turbulence and is it dangerous. There are five main types of turbulence. These are wind, rising air, jet streams, mountains and vortexes in aircraft wakes.

  1. Turbulence caused by wind can be more problematic during takeoff or landing and is akin to navigating a boat through rough waters. It can happen at both higher and lower altitudes and operates differently in these two areas.
  2. Turbulence can be caused by vertically rising air at higher altitudes. It can be caused by the same processes which cause clouds to form. However, where there is not moisture in the air clouds do not form and the turbulence can not be seen. This is the CAT (clear air turbulence) which we looked at earlier. Radar and visual identification are not possible. Generally, this does not happen above cloud cover, though it is possible in tropical areas and can sometimes be predicted.
  3. Jet streams move air around the world at very high speeds, in excess of 300 kmph. Across the Atlantic, they flow from west to east. Aircraft avoid these when flying from Europe to North America as this would mean flying into the wind, slowing airspeed. Flying the return journey they often ride the jet stream back. Pilots need to be aware that the jet stream can quickly change direction. These changes are called bends and turbulence can form there.
  4. Mountains can cause turbulence as strong winds may create updrafts which can still be felt at commercial aircraft flying heights.
  5. The final type of turbulence is caused by an aircraft’s wake. In a similar way to how a large or fast-moving ship leaves a wake in the sea, an aircraft does the same. This is why aircraft have to leave a minimum distance between them, similar to when you drive your car.

These are the main factors which cause turbulence when flying.

Are Instances Of Unexpected Turbulence Increasing?

A question which airlines (and those dealing with claims for in-flight injuries) are asked is, ‘is turbulence getting worse’ or becoming more frequent?

As the earth’s climate is changing, the aviation industry is expecting there to be more and more instances of aircraft encountering clear air turbulence. This is because as the planets climate changes, the temperature differences between the areas south and north of the equator which drives the jet stream are increasing.

As jet streams become stronger, they become less stable and there is a greater chance of having more instances of clear air turbulence. As levels of CO2 in the atmosphere rise, it is expected that there will be a similar rise in the instances of aircraft encountering turbulence and that that turbulence is also getting worse.

What Can You Do To Avoid Injuries During Turbulence?

Now we have looked at what causes turbulence on a plane, we will look at what you can do during unexpected severe turbulence.

  1. In case of the aircraft suddenly encountering turbulence, there are things which you can do if it happens so quickly that the seatbelt sign in not turned on. Support yourself quickly to prevent you from being thrown around or falling over.
  2. If there are any empty seats close by, sit down and buckle your seatbelt. If not, squat down in the aisle and hold on to something secure.
  3. Listen closely for any instructions given by the cabin crew or the flight crew and follow these.
  4. Remain calm and treat the turbulence as you would a big wave or a bump in the road. Whilst it is inconvenient and can cause anxiety the aircraft will be safe. Your only worry is being injured inside the cabin.

You can find more tips on what to do in the event of unexpected turbulence in this United Airlines guide.

The Montreal Convention And Your Air Passenger Rights

In the event of an accident on an aircraft, as a passenger you have rights through UK law, EU law and under the Montreal Convention. Through the Montreal Convention air passengers travelling from the UK are able to claim compensation for injuries and other damages caused by accidents or disruptions.

This convention is an international agreement covering air carriage for passengers between and departing from 120 countries from around the world who have ratified this agreement. This means if you are flying between two registered states you have additional rights to claim damages beyond those applicable in your own country, the departure country, or destination country (if different).

If you were injured on your flight, you could claim compensation for unexpected turbulence under the Montreal Convention.

Liability For Injuries Caused By Turbulence

In the event of an accident on a plane, you may need to establish who is liable for the accident, and thus your injuries. When making a claim for injuries which happened during unexpected negligence it can sometimes be harder than in other types of case to establish liability. This is because an unforeseen act of nature (often called an act of God) can not always be claimed for. However, if there has been any negligence on the part of the airline, victims may have grounds to claim. If it was possible for the crew to have foreseen the chance of turbulence and not have taken action to either mitigate this risk or warn passengers, you may have a claim based on their negligence.

If you are able to bring a claim under the Montreal Convention, you will have a lower burden of proof to establish your ability to claim. Due to this convention and the way in which this has been interpreted in the UK’s courts, if you as a passenger were injured on any part of your flight which is outside of the expected norm, your airline will be liable for your injuries. In such cases, there is not a need to show that the airline was negligent.

Unexpected Turbulence Personal Injury Claims Calculator

Without knowing the details of what happened to you, it is not possible for our experts to tell you exactly how much you could be owed. Commonly, people have set ideas about how much their particular injury may be worth and how it compares to other injuries, or that an injury will get an automatic settlement amount. However, this is not the case and a variety of factors are taken into account when your claim is calculated. In general, an accident victim could expect to be compensated for their injury as well as other financial losses.

Below we have included a personal injury claims calculator. You can use this to see example amounts for some of the most common forms of injury. We have included bands from the more moderate up to severe forms of injury so that you can see the wide variance in how much people can often claim.

Remember, this calculator is an example of what people could claim in certain circumstances and your individual claim or case may fall between these figures. What this injury claims calculator can do is to help you start making a better-informed choice about making a claim.

Body part injuredSeverity or seriousnessEffectsSettlement examples
Finger (fractures)SevereThese injuries could reduce the function of affected fingers.Up to £32,210
Hand or handsMinor - severeHigher settlements are made for the loss of the hand. This is valued similarly to the loss of an arm.£800 - £176,660
Leg or legsMinor - severeInjuries to the leg could affect the bone or the soft tissue.up to to £247,280
Ankle or both anklesModest - severeInjuries could effect one of both of your ankles.from up to £12,050 - £61,110
One foot or two feetModest - severeInjuries could effect one of both of your feet.from up to £12,050 - £176,660
Head or brainMinorInjuries could effect the head or the brain.£1,940 to £11,200
Shoulder or both shouldersMinor - severeExamples of large compensation payments could reflect more serious injuries.£2,150 - £42,110
BackMinor - severeExamples of large compensation payments could reflect more serious injuries.£2,150 - £141,150
Wrist or wristsLevels A - FExamples of large compensation payments could reflect more serious injuries.Up to £52,490
Pelvis or hipsLesser - more severeSettlements a the very highest end will also include other related internal injuries.£3,460 - £114,810

What Else Can I Claim Compensation For?

Aside from the damages shown above which you could claim for a physical or psychological injury, there are also other types of damages which you could be able to claim. These entitlements are set out in the law.

Examples of other forms of damages which you could claim damages for, include;

  • Any financial losses which you either already have lost or that you will lose in the future.
  • Wages, salary and workplace (employment) benefits which you have lost or will lose due to additional time off work or changes to your employment status.
  • The cost of and charges for medical treatment (in the UK or abroad) which you have already had to pay, or will have to pay in the future.
  • Compensation for other forms of expense or costs, such as damage to personal property.

No Win No Fee Compensation For Unexpected Turbulence Claims

When our personal injury solicitors take on a claim their fee is based entirely on whether or not they are successful. If they do not win your claim, they will not charge you a penny. In fact, if you are able to make a claim under a no win no fee agreement, you will only have to pay your success-based fee to the solicitor if you win your case. This fee will have been agreed upon beforehand and will be set out in your agreement or contract with the solicitor.

There is no financial risk at all in making a claim with us. Our panel of solicitors are experienced in helping people to claim compensation for their in-flight injuries, such as those which could be caused during an unexpected turbulence incident. Remember, even if our team does have to pursue your claim all the way to the courts, you will still not have anything to pay unless you win your claim. And if you do, what you pay is based on an agreed percentage of your settlement.

Why Make An In-Flight Turbulence Compensation Claim With Us?

At Legal Expert, we believe we have the expertise and the knowledge to help you to successfully claim compensation for unexpected turbulence. As well as providing you with information on how much you could be able to claim through our personal injury claims calculator, our experts could also help to organise further medical examinations with experts close to your area. You can also take advantage of one of our specialist personal injury lawyers or solicitors to handle your claim. As shown above, we also have a fully no win no fee service, as seen above. We always work to ensure that you get the best possible settlement to your claim and outcome to your case. To make sure that you begin your case within the personal injury claims time limit, we do recommend contacting a solicitor at your earliest possible convenience.

Contact An Air Accident Expert

With a panel of personal injury solicitors and medical experts based around the UK, we could have the right solicitor for your case. You can get in contact with our team by phone, email and contact form. There are contact forms and online support features on this page which you can use to request a call back from our team.

You can also send us the details of your case to Office@legalexpert.co.uk. Finally, you can just pick up the phone and call 0800 073 8804. We are here seven days a week through the day and night.

Air Accident Claim Guides

In addition to this guide on how to claim compensation for unexpected turbulence our site also includes a variety of other resources for people injured at various stages of a journey by plane, from when you arrive at your airport to when you arrive at your destination. We also have resources advising people on how to claim compensation for an accident on holiday and have included resources on how to stay safe in an aircraft cabin.

CAA Cabin Safety Guide
Produced by the Civil Aviation Authority, this guide looks at how to stay safe at all times when in an aircraft cabin such as during turbulence in flight.

5 Tips For What To Do During Unexpected Turbulence
In this guide from United Airlines, you can find five tips for what you should do during unexpected severe turbulence.

Airline And Aeroplane Injury Claims
In this guide, we look at other ways in which you could be injured on an aircraft aside from during severe turbulence.

Airport Accident Claims
This guide looks at the different ways people could be injured or become ill whilst transiting through an airport.

Article By Russel B.

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