Accidents Abroad

Businesswoman injured on flight when luggage fell onto her from overhead locker awarded maximum £143,000 compensation

airplane accidents can be caused by items falling from an overhead locker
5 min read time

A businesswoman injured on a flight to London from Hong Kong has been awarded the maximum compensation for the nature of her claim after being diagnosed with long-term health issues after another passenger’s hand luggage fell onto her head as she slept in her seat.

The fellow traveller had opened an overhead locker on the 13-hour flight into Heathrow and was attempting to take out a rucksack which contained a laptop. However, it was dropped and hit the woman on her head causing her to wake in shock and pain.

The airplane accident on the Cathay Pacific Airways flight happened around an hour before landing and caused the 45-year-old woman to have a panic attack.

“At the time the pain was something else and when I arrived home I thought I had just been left with bruising, but months later I was still living with really bad pain and problems with my neck and back,” she recalled.

After the injury, in 2017, the woman eventually had to leave her job in London as the accident left her with severe headaches and persistent pain in her spine as well as causing nerve spasms.

She later developed fibromyalgia, a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body, and had to move nearer to her family for support.

Airplane accident claim was brought under the Montreal Convention

After contacting Hudgell Solicitors’ travel litigation team for legal advice she was advised that she could bring a case for the in-flight accident under the Montreal Convention which governs international air travel.

The Convention imposes a form of strict liability on airlines for personal injury during a flight or during one of the processes of embarking or disembarking at an airport.

Passengers do not have to prove fault. However, the person making a holiday accident claim for damages must establish that there has been an ‘accident’. To be a ‘qualifying accident’ under the Convention, there must be an ‘unexpected or unusual event or happening that is external to the passenger’.

“From the information I was given about the Montreal Convention, I knew I was in good hands and it was the right firm for me, Hudgells knew what it was talking about,” said the woman.

‘This was an accident entirely outside my client’s control’

She was represented in her holiday injury claim by experienced associate solicitor Tracy Stansfield, and it was eventually agreed that the woman would be awarded £142,965 for the injuries caused and the subsequent loss of her earnings – the maximum amount under The Convention for a claim of this nature.

“I am pleased for my client that the matter has now been settled. The award reflects not only the fact that she was injured on the flight through no fault of her own, but also that the injury severely disrupted her life and her career; it has had long term health and financial consequences.

“This was an accident entirely outside my client’s control and left her in great deal of pain which she continues to live with.

“It has been a pleasure to work with her to ensure that both the accident and the debilitating effects have been recognised and she has been awarded compensation that she fully deserves.”

As part of the claim Hudgell Solicitors sought the opinion of medical experts to assess the long-term damage the accident had caused and the need for ongoing physiotherapy.

“It has changed my life completely. It’s not the life I had before and it’s not the life I thought I would have; that really can’t be compensated for, but considering the circumstances I am pleased with the legal process and outcome,” said the woman, who does not wished to be named.

The legal claim acknowledged that there was no negligence on the part of the airline but under the Montreal Convention it was established that Cathay Pacific Airlines was liable for injuries and losses.

Travel litigation solicitor Tracy Stansfield added, “Our client’s injury was caused by a heavy bag falling from an overhead locker, unfortunately this type of incident is not uncommon.

“Other types of ‘accidents’ for the purpose of the Montreal Convention are spillages of hot drinks, trolleys hitting passengers and accidents on the bus taking passengers from the terminal to the aircraft and vice versa.”

In-flight Accident and Injuries Compensation Claims

Accidents happen on-board aircrafts every day and normally through no fault of those affected. In cases where you’ve been injured in an accident on a plane, our specialist holiday accident claims solicitors can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

We’ve helped people make air accident claims for incidents involving air disasters, avoidable trips and falls, hot liquid spills, and accidents caused by the actions of other passengers or cabin crew. Whatever your circumstances, our travel solicitors can help you make a successful aeroplane accident claim.

Read more: In-flight Accident and Injuries Compensation Claims

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