Chicago Workers’ Compensation Lawyers & Illinois Injury Lawyers

I Was Hurt While Flying on One of My Airline’s ‘Codeshare’ Partner Airlines. Am I Allowed to Sue for My Injuries in Illinois?

| May 29, 2024 | Aviation Accidents |

If you travel by air much, you’ve undoubtedly seen it, whether on a travel website or on your actual travel documents. Maybe you’re flying from Chicago to Vienna and the website says “United Airlines Operated by Austrian Airlines.” Maybe you’re flying from Chicago to Toronto and your documents say “United Airlines Operated by Air Canada Express.” These scenarios, the result of something in the aviation industry called “codeshare agreements,” may offer travelers enhanced options for flying, but they can also raise questions if you’re injured during your flight, especially if your flight crosses international borders. Whether your United flight was to Milwaukee or Milan, you need the right legal team on your side to help you get the compensation you deserve after your injury, so be sure that reach out to an experienced Chicago aviation accident attorney without delay.

A recent lawsuit, covered by the aviation report Paddle Your Own Kanoo, involved that scenario and highlights the many legal issues that can be involved. G.B., a South African poet who was also a professor at Penn State University, was traveling back to Pennsylvania and had booked with United Airlines, according to the report. United routed the professor to the United States via Frankfurt, Germany and placed her on a Lufthansa flight for the South Africa-to-Germany leg of her trip.

While traveling to Frankfurt, “a hard, heavy object from the baggage compartment above” allegedly fell unexpectedly and slammed into the unsuspecting professor. The impact was severe enough that it allegedly caused “severe and permanent brain injury.”

The many ways airline negligence can case an overhead baggage injury

When you’re injured by a bag from the overhead bin of an aircraft, there may be multiple potential ways in which the airline can be liable and owe you compensation. The airline may have failed to make sure the bag was stowed properly in the compartment, may have failed to make sure the overhead compartment was closed properly, may have failed to ensure that the overhead compartment’s locking mechanism was in proper working order, or may have opened overhead compartments in an unsafe manner. All of these things represent varieties of negligence, and any may be the basis of an award of damages.

Identifying the entities that you need to sue is a vital part of any injury lawsuit. That process be more challenging if your injury happened aboard a codeshare partner airline while you were a continent away from home. Even when that happens, though, you can still take action… and potentially take action right here in Chicago. The professor, for example, brought her negligence lawsuit in the federal court in Chicago, and she named United as a defendant, even though she was flying Lufthansa when she was injured.

The professor’s case involved international travel, so some of the rules controlling her case were based in international law. Specifically, there’s something called the “Montreal Convention,” which says that you potentially can sue the airline with whom you booked, even if you were flying with a codeshare partner airline at the time of your injury. Back in 2008, the federal court in Miami handled a similar case involving the Montreal Convention. In that case, a passenger who booked with American Eagle was traveling aboard a codeshare partner carrier (Executive Airlines) en route from Miami to the Bahamas. The court ruled in that case that, although the passenger wasn’t aboard American Eagle when he was hurt, he could still pursue American Eagle because he was flying with an American Eagle codeshare partner on travel that was billed as an American Eagle reservation. Under the Montreal Convention, that made American Eagle what’s called a “contracting carrier,” and still potentially liable for the passenger’s injuries. The Penn State professor’s case potentially appears to involve some similar facts.

If you’ve been injured aboard a commercial flight, whether that injury happened over Lake County or over the Atlantic Ocean, and whether your issues involve international law or Illinois law (or both,) you need the right legal team to help you take on the airline(s) and get what you deserve. The skillful Chicago aviation accident attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca are here to help, providing clients with useful advice and powerful, effective advocacy throughout the legal process. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 312-724-5846 or through our website.