Turbulence and Injuries to Airline Cabin Crews

commercial aircraftIf you’ve read enough headlines about air travel, you’ve probably seen it. Whether it was the United Airlines flight attendants who suffered injuries on a flight from Denver to Omaha, or the Qantas flight attendant who broke her ankle on a flight from Perth to Canberra, turbulence can represent a very serious risk of injury for airline cabin crews. And, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, these injuries are rising. The FAA reported that twice as many serious turbulence injuries occurred in 2016 as in 2015, according to USA Today.

Reports indicate that passengers suffered three times as many turbulence-related injuries as compared to crew members in 2016, but that can potentially be misleading. Firstly, that statistic covered only one year. From 2011-15, the FAA reported 71 crew members suffered turbulence injuries, compared to only 53 passengers. Secondly, given that the ratio of passengers to flight attendants on board most commercial flights is often much more than 3-to-1, it is easy to see that crew members have a much higher risk of injury than passengers.

What’s more, the injuries crew members suffer in unexpected turbulence situations can often be serious ones. “Clean air” turbulence incidents generally mean that the turbulence struck the flight without warning. While passengers are instructed to keep their seat belts fastened whenever they are not moving about the airplane cabin, crew members are often standing or walking to perform flight services when these events strike, leaving them with little opportunity to protect themselves from injury.

Crew members perform many duties while the plane is in flight, some of which are obvious to passengers but some less so. One of these is securing the galley. In 2016, the USA Today report revealed that two of the serious injuries suffered by flight attendants happened while they were securing the galley and their planes hit unexpected turbulence. One fractured a facial bone, while the other broke her ankle. In another incident, a United flight attendant was working in the galley when her plane hit turbulence en route to Cleveland. She broke her leg and was fortunate that one of the passengers on board her flight was a doctor who assisted her.

Turbulence risks can be anywhere for flight attendants, including in providing meal and drink service. In one flight, a sudden drop during unexpected turbulence launched a pot of hot water into the air and onto a flight attendant, inflicting second-degree burns on her left shoulder and side.

All of these injuries highlight just how risky the jobs of a cabin crew can be. Traumatic injuries like these can have long-term impacts that go beyond the initial injury and recovery period. Given the significant amount of time a flight attendant spends standing or walking, a serious injury to a leg or ankle (as befell two of these flight attendants in 2016) may have a long-term impact on that crew member’s health and ability to continue working.

A capable flight attendant injury lawyer can provide many types of assistance to you. These include identifying the source of the injuries, determining the long-term impacts flowing from those injuries, and deducing a method for obtaining proper compensation for those injuries. The Chicago airline injury attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eagle, Eisenstein, Johnson & Bareck have been representing flight attendants for many years and are keenly attuned to crew members’ unique needs. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Flying the Unfriendly Skies, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, Aug. 18, 2016

Number of Airline Accidents Dropped in 2015, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, March 16, 2016