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Aircraft Accident: How to decide how to claim for personal injury or other losses suffered whilst travelling on an aircraft
Aicraft accident: on this page you will learn when you can claim compensation for injuries on an aircraft using UK law and when international law must apply, the time period to claim compensation and the country where your claim can be commenced.
What are the different types of aircraft accident?
There are three main types of aircraft accident and depending on which will decide who you can claim compensation from:
1. An injury whilst on a domestic flight
You might be flying within a UK country, for example, if you are flying from Manchester to London - if there is any form of injury or accident whilst on the aircraft you would be able to claim against the airline using UK law.
If the flight was part of a package holiday you would also be able to claim against the tour operator.
2. An aircraft accident on an international flight whilst travelling on a package holiday
As you are traveling on a package holiday you have the right in contract to claim against the tour operator under the package holiday regulations or against the airline direct.
Click package holiday claims to see the page I have written explaininh how to claim.
3. A personal injury claim whilst on an international flight which was booked by yourself and not as part of a package
With this type of claim you cannot rely on UK law instead you must rely on international law known as the Montreal Convention.
What is international travel on an aircraft?
International travel is known technically as international carriage and is defined as any carriage where there is an agreement between the parties that the place of departure and the final destination are in two different states or countries.
If a passenger contracts direct with an airline - international law, known as the Montreal Convention, and on the law of contract applies.
For example,a flight from the UK to Spain is considered international air travel. But if you were to fly from one end of Spain to the next stopping temporarily in Angola for refueling - this would not be considered an international flight as the starting point and ending point of the journey are in Spain.
Even if there are different parts to the flight - each leg can be considered international travel. For example, you are flying from Manchester in England to New York in the United States stopping at London to change planes. So long as you bought the ticket as a flight from Manchester to New York - even the leg between Manchester and London is considered international air travel.
Not all countries have signed up to the Montreal Convention, so if you fly from the UK to a country which has not signed up - it is not considered international travel if it is a one way flight, but is considered international travel if it is a return flight.
In any event if you are flying with a European airline another piece of European law effectively applies the Montreal Convention to non-international flights.
What is the Montreal Convention?
The Montreal Convention is international law - when it applies no other law applies. It provides for compensation for the following during an international flight:
1. Personal injury or death to passengers
2. Passenger delay and baggage delay or loss
Click flight delay compensation to see the page I have written explaining when you can claim for flight delays, cancellations, baggage delay and loss.
What types of aircraft accident personal injury claims must be made using the Montreal Convention?
What is known in legal terms as "strict liability" applies - namely so long as an accident occurred you do not have to prove that the carrier was at fault only that an accident occurred.
All you must show is that an accident occurred causing injury or death, wounding or other bodily injury whilst embarking or disembarking or whilst on the aircraft.
At the time of writing this page - the law seems to suggest that psychological injury without accompanying physical injury will not result in an a successful compensation payment. For example, a fear of the a plane crash is not sufficient.
UK law has decided also that Deep Vein Thrombosis is not an accident for the purpose of the Montreal Convention so no compensation should be payable.
What is the limitation period to claim compensation for aircraft accident personal injury?
This is very important - the Montreal Convention allows a 2 year period from the date of the accident to claim compensation for personal injury.
In the UK an accident claim must be started within three years from the date of an accident, but if the accident is on an aircraft the time period is only two years from the date of the accident.
Which country can you make your claim for compensation in using the Montreal Convention?
You have the choice as the person who has been injured or has suffered loss to start your claim in either the country where the carrier is based, the country where you bought your flight or the country where your flight was to end.
In other words:
1. As a UK citizen purchasing a flight in the UK you can make your claim in the UK courts; or
2. If you are a Spanish citizen flying from the UK to Spain one way and purchasing your ticket in the UK - you can start your claim in Spain as the point of your final destination.
Summary of aircraft accident page
On this page you have seen how to claim accident compensation for injuries sustained on an aircraft travelling domestically and internationally, but what happens if there are no injuries and you are subject to passenger of baggage delay problems?
Click aircraft accident and flight delay compensation to find out how to claim for baggage problems and flight delays.