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JFK Airport Personal Injury Lawsuits

 In Blog, Law

Protecting Yourself at the Airport: Personal Injury at JFK

As New Yorkers, our experience at any of our city’s airports is famously time-consuming and irritating. To add insult to injury, there are also numerous dangers and safety risks that we can encounter on our way to and from the airport, on the premises, and out on the airfield. This applies not only to passengers on a flight but to the employees of the airport who keep the intricate system going.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, as of 2021, there have been 1,157 general aviation accidents, resulting in 221 serious injuries and 344 fatalities. General aviation includes personal and business travel, but not through the means of commercial airlines. The statistics, as recorded by the National Safety Council, are about the same for civil aviation. In 2021, the total number of recorded civil aircraft accidents was 1,225, resulting in 376 fatalities. Despite this, when comparing the accident rate of general aviation to commercial airlines, we can observe a profound difference. “Major airlines experienced no onboard fatalities and had a fatal accident rate of 0.0 per 100,000 flight hours in 2021. This contrasts sharply with general aviation, which experienced 341 onboard fatalities and had a fatal accident rate of 0.951 per 100,000 flight hours.”

There is enormous loss-of-life and life-altering injury risk attached to airplanes, not because they are inherently dangerous, but because in the case of an accident, there is not much one can do but hope for the best. At the Law Offices of Irene H. Gabo Esq., we are extremely familiar with the possible airport dangers you may encounter and can help you obtain justice and compensation in the occurrence of an accident.

What Constitutes a Safe Airplane?

The most glaring danger in an airport is the possibility of an aircraft malfunctioning. There are so many people, vehicles, and aircraft constantly in motion at airports that an issue with one plane can create a catastrophic ripple effect on numerous innocent bystanders and surrounding property. To understand how an airplane accident can occur, we must first understand what constitutes a safe airplane.

The complex engineering of an airplane requires that the procedures for effective fueling, mechanical checks, and maintenance are strictly regulated. According to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, aircraft are subject to different regulations depending on what type they are classified as. Nevertheless, every single type of aircraft must pass the ABC check system. The A check is more frequent and requires inspection of the craft every 400-600 flight hours or 200-300 flight cycles, depending on the type. The B check is performed every 6-8 months and is more comprehensive than A, taking an average of 1-3 days to complete. The C check requires that most aircraft parts are inspected and must occur every 20-24 months – putting the aircraft out of service for up to 4 weeks.

The D check is by far the most comprehensive check, where the aircraft is taken apart entirely for inspection and overhaul. D checks must be completed every 6-10 years. It is incredibly important that the airline you choose to fly with is diligent with these inspections, as mechanical failure is one of the leading causes of airplane accidents.

In addition, the status of the plane and any noted mechanical issues and repairs are recorded in logbooks. A logbook is an incredible source for understanding how carefully maintained an aircraft is and its history of damage.

We are not all engineers, and obtaining this information as a civilian can be difficult. However, knowing that this information exists and can support your case in an accident is still very helpful. At the Law Offices of Irene H. Gabo Esq., our personal injury attorneys are experienced in investigating these incidents and gathering the evidence you need to strengthen your case.

Causes of Airplane Accidents and Common Injuries

There are multiple leading causes for airplane accidents, which can vary quite significantly considering how many people are involved in the takeoff, flight, and landing process. The most common causes of aviation accidents are as follows:

  • Pilot Error
  • Mechanical Failure
  • Improper/Inconsistent Maintenance
  • Air Traffic Controller Negligence/Error
  • Defective Runway
  • Weather Conditions

There is also a wide array of injuries that passengers and bystanders can sustain in an airplane crash. Depending on the severity of the crash, the altitude the plane is dropping from, and what caused the accident, the range of injury can be very wide. The most common injuries sustained in airplane crashes, but not limited to this list, are as follows:

  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Broken/Fractured Bones
  • Emotional Trauma
  • Burns and Smoke Inhalation
  • Soft Tissue Injuries

At the Law Offices of Irene H. Gabo Esq., our personal injury attorneys understand how traumatic an airplane accident can be and have the expertise to ensure you are justly compensated for your injuries. If you’d like to know more about your rights and protections in the occurrence of a plane accident, call our office at 800-560-0214 for a free consultation.

Navigating the Airport – Plane to Terminal Accidents

One of the most frequent airport accidents involves traveling from and within the airport. An example of this type of accident is a bus collision that may occur while going from the plane to the terminal and vice versa. Airports typically offer the services of shuttle buses and commuter vans to transport passengers and employees from their planes to a location where they can catch another form of transportation. The roads leading into and out of an airport can be extremely congested due to the constant activity of airports, which, coupled with the density of cars and driving etiquette of many people in New York City, diminishes roadway safety and increases the potential for an accident.

This particular type of accident occurred fairly recently at Brooklyn’s JFK Airport. On May 19th of this year, a commuter van contracted by American Airlines crashed into the back of a Delta Airlines bus. The collision resulted in 15 injuries, of which one was considered serious. The accident happened on the northbound Van Wyck Expressway exiting the airport toward the Belt Parkway at 5:20 A.M. While this form of accident might not be the most obvious when we think of airport accidents, it is significantly more probable than the more obvious dangers, like an airplane crash. The most common injuries sustained in airport bus accidents are as follows:

  • Whiplash
  • Concussion
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Soft Tissue Injuries
  • Fractured/Broken Bones

Common On-Site Accidents and Injuries at JFK

We have discussed accidents that may occur on the aircraft or while navigating the airport. Still, we must also familiarize ourselves with the additional safety risks inside the airport and out on the airfield and what to do after an accident occurs.

The protocol following an accident at the airport, regardless of the type of incident, is the same. Following the accident, you must first alert airport personnel and have them document the incident. They should, in turn, notify medical personnel, who should fully evaluate the extent of your injuries. Some injuries are not immediately apparent, so it is a good idea to make an appointment with your primary care physician (PCP) for further evaluation. Having a clear evidence trail of medical and incident-reporting documentation to support your injury claims is extremely important. Getting the names and contact information of any possible witnesses to your accident is also helpful.
Additionally, it would be best if you took pictures of the accident scene and any possible conditions you believe might have led to the accident occurring. If your injuries prevent you from doing this, ask a witness or any capable surrounding person to take these photos. Digital documentation of the scene is critical in building the strength and validity of your case.

The most common types of accidents to occur on-site in an airport, not limited to this list, are as follows:

Slip and Fall Accidents at JFK

Many conditions may result in a slip-and-fall New York City airport accident. Bathrooms are a typical location for these incidents, as spilled liquids/food and wet floors without caution signs are catalysts for a slip and fall. However, bathrooms are not the only location where a slip-and-fall accident is likely – any area of an airport can have poor conditions that may lead to such an incident.

Slip and falls can be caused by uneven boarding ramps, defective stair treads, poor lighting, loose tiles or carpeting, and many other conditions that create uneven walking surfaces. A slip-and-fall accident can happen at any time, even unprovoked, so it is very important to be observant and look out for potential safety risks.

The most common injuries sustained in slip and fall accidents are head, spine, rib, and back injuries, as well as lacerations and broken/fractured bones. Depending on whether you’ve fallen forwards or backwards, arm and facial injuries may be sustained as well.

Escalator Accidents at JFK

Escalator accidents are often due to technical issues and poor escalator maintenance. An escalator can have an enormous range of issues – abrupt stopping or speed changes due to malfunctioning, missing or broken steps, unstable handrails, defective teeth or comb plates, and numerous other problems. Escalator accidents are rare but can occur without warning and seriously injure many people simultaneously.

The most common form of injury sustained in an escalator accident is a crushing injury, and the body’s extremities are particularly at risk. Our feet and legs can become trapped in escalator comb plates, possibly leading to severe blood loss and severing of the extremity. Other commonly sustained injuries include head, neck, and back injuries, broken bones, and lacerations. When riding an escalator, stay vigilant of its speed and look for any missing, unstable, or defective parts.

Tarmac Accidents at JFK

Tarmac accidents are dangerous in an all-encompassing way. Not only can ground workers be at risk for bodily injury or death but there can also be massive property damage resulting from such an incident. An airplane tarmac is incredibly busy, with multiple people, vehicles, and aircraft constantly in motion. The most devastating tarmac accident that can occur is a plane landing or taking off from the tarmac and failing to see personnel on the ground, which may lead to life-altering injury or, more likely, death. An aircraft on a tarmac may fail to see or accommodate enough space for another aircraft or vehicle, resulting in property damage. They might also fail to recognize construction or dividing fences that help section off airport territory, which may result in property damage or bystanders being injured or killed.

This type of accident occurred at JFK Airport in January of this year, where an unoccupied JetBlue airplane struck the tail of a nearby parked plane. A few days prior to this incident, “a Delta plane nearly collided with an American Airlines plane when the latter aircraft crossed a runway at JFK where the former craft was accelerating in preparation for takeoff.” These reports proved very concerning to federal authorities and the National Transportation Safety Board, who immediately launched investigations into JFK airport conduct.

Construction Accidents at JFK

Airports and airplanes may frequently be under construction or maintenance, greatly increasing airport employees’ risk of being in an accident. The risk of injury in general construction, not even at an airport, is high. When considering an airport’s noisy and constantly shifting surroundings, construction becomes even more dangerous. Construction-related accidents can happen anytime, so it is extremely important to be vigilant of your surroundings and the safety conditions of airport work sites.

JFK airport experienced a devastating construction accident during their airport expansion project as recently as April 3rd of this year. Two construction workers were killed in a trench collapse, during which they were buried under the rubble of the collapse. Despite the best efforts of first responders, both individuals were pronounced dead at the scene.

If You Have Been Injured in a New York City Airport, JFK, or Otherwise, Contact Us Today

If you have been injured at a New York City airport or through the airport’s services (i.e., a shuttle bus), do not hesitate to seek legal counsel. Cases regarding airport accidents can be very complex, making it even more important to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your case.

Contact our law firm and personal injury attorney, Irene H. Gabo Esq., for expert guidance and a free consultation today. Please get in touch with our office with any questions at (800) 560-0214 or complete the form on our website to get started.

References:

  1. https://www.bts.gov/content/us-general-aviationa-safety-data
  2. https://www.panynj.gov/content/dam/airports/pdfs/Airport_Rules_Regs_7_27_22.pdf
  3. https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/home-and-community/safety-topics/airplane-crashes/#:~:text=Miles%20flown%20in%202021%20rebounded,2020%20to%20376%20in%202021.
  4. https://abc7ny.com/jfk-airport-accident-bus-crash-van-wyck-expressway/13268900/
  5. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/jetblue-plane-collision-jfk-airport-federal-investigation-faa/
  6. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/apr/04/jfk-airport-construction-workers-killed