Airplane Accident Lawyers Calgary

Despite commercial air travel being one of the safest forms of travel, airplane accidents and injuries are more common than you think. In 2022, a total of 165 air transportation accidents were reported to the Transport and Safey Board of Canada. This number does not include accidents that happen overseas involving flights leaving from or coming to Canada. It also does not include injuries that occur without an airplane actually crashing. Some examples of this include being injured by a beverage cart or by baggage falling from an overhead compartment.

Understanding your legal options in an airplane injury case is not simple. Where your flight was coming from, where it was heading, the airline involved, and how the injury occurred are all things that determine what legal rights or options you have. If you have been injured while traveling by airplane, book a free consultation with our Calgary airplane accident/injury lawyers.

Common injuries that happen on an airplane

Like in other accidents, injuries from an airplane accident can cause a wide range of injuries – some of which could be fatal. Some common airplane accident injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries: airplane accidents can cause blunt force trauma to the head. Even a hard landing may be enough to cause a brain injury. Falling luggage is likely the leading cause of brain injuries on airplanes.
  • Soft tissue and spinal cord injuries: the substantial force of an airplane collision can cause undue stress on the spinal cord. These injuries can also happen if you trip and fall while entering or exiting the aircraft.
  • Burns: most burn injuries on an airplane are caused by hot beverages or food.
  • Psychological injuries: survivors of airplane accidents can develop mental injuries such as PTSD and anxiety.
  • And more.

In a 2009 study in the United States, the types of injuries sustained in commercial airplane accidents were studied in a 5-year period:

  • Head injuries: 7.5%
  • Internal injuries: 2.6%
  • Burns: 2.7%
  • Joint or muscle injuries: 8.1%
  • Lower limb fracture: 28.4%
  • Laceration or open wound: 7.4%
  • Upper limb fracture: 11.2%
  • Other injuries: 31%

How does liability get established in airplane accidents or airplane injuries?

Most international flights are governed by the Montreal Convention. This is an international treaty between almost all developed nations. Its predecessor, the Warsaw Convention was introduced to provide a universal book of rights for passengers around the world. Without the Convention, there would be no basis to bring a lawsuit from an overseas accident in your own country. In Canada, the Montreal Convention has been adopted under the federal Carriage by Air Act.

If you are injured while travelling between 2 countries who are signatories to the Convention, your claim exclusively falls under its jurisdiction. The list of signatory countries can be found here with the International Civil Organization (ICAO). A layover in another country will still trigger the Convention. For example, if there is a flight from Canada to India, a layover in a non-signatory country will not change the operation of the Convention. What matters is the origin of the flight and its final destination. In most situations, if the flight originates in a province or territory of Canada, or if the itinerary ends in one, you can bring a lawsuit there.

Article 17 of the Montreal Convention exclusively governs the situations in which the airline may be liable for death or injury. There are 3 criteria:

  • Accident: There must be an accident that is an “unusual or unexpected event” that is external. Something like turbulence, which is not unusual would not be an accident, even if you sustain injuries.
  • Injury or death: There must be an injury caused by the accident. Psychological injury alone does not trigger liability under the Convention.
  • On board or getting on or off the airplane: The accident and injury must occur while you are on board the airplane or in the course of embarking or disembarking the aircraft. Getting hurt at the airport terminal would not trigger the Convention but an injury while getting on or off the plane likely would.

Below are examples of “accidents” under the Convention:

  • Overhead baggage being dropped onto the head of a passenger.
  • A cup of coffee or hot water being dropped onto a passenger by a flight attendant.
  • An airplane crashes into another airplane or object before, during, or after flight.

The Convention does not apply to domestic travel within Canada. This does not mean you cannot bring a lawsuit for damages from a domestic airplane accident. You will need to prove common law negligence against the airline carrier or a third party. The negligence laws of the province where the accident occurs will apply to the case. You will need to prove an airline, or third party’s negligence led to your injury.

Both international and domestic aviation accidents are highly complex to navigate. At Preszler Injury Lawyers, our Calgary airplane accident/injury lawyers are well-versed in the intricacies of aviation law. Call now for a free consultation.

How does compensation work for victims of airplane accident injuries in Calgary?

For international airplane injuries covered by the Montreal Convention, an airline is strictly liable if you are injured in an “accident” while on the plane or getting on or off the plane. Compensation is measured in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). SDRs is a standard financial unit of measure and is a weighted average of various international currencies. Under the Convention, an airline is strictly liable to pay compensation up to 100,000 SDRs or just under $200,000 CAD.

If an airline can prove an injury was not caused by their negligence, it is possible for compensation to be capped at 100,000 SDRs. If the airline cannot prove this, there is likely no cap to compensation. For example, if an airplane crashes during an international flight due to pilot error, compensation is unlikely to be capped. But if an injury is caused by a third party such as another passenger, it is possible that your claim against the airline could be capped at 100,000 SDRs.

How do airplane accident lawsuits work in Alberta?

Once an investigation is complete and all potential defendants (people or entities that caused or contributed to the accident) are identified, the next step is to issue a statement of claim. The statement of claim is the “lawsuit” and starts the litigation process. In most cases a claim needs to be filed within 2 years of the accident and personally served on all defendants within 12 months of the lawsuit being filed.

The next steps can include:

  • Collecting relevant documents: this may include documents related to how the accident happened, or medical and employment records to prove your losses.
  • Questioning for discovery: this is a formal step in litigation where your lawyer asks the defendant(s) questions on the record. The opposing lawyer will also have the opportunity to ask you questions about how the accident happened and how your injuries have and continue to impact your life.
  • Retaining experts: it may be necessary to hire expert engineers to provide an opinion on how the accident happened. You may be assessed by medical experts who can provide an opinion on the cause of your injuries, what your future might look like, and what treatments you should undergo.
  • Mediation: this is an opportunity to settle your case with the opposing party, with the help of a mediator.
  • Trial: if parties are unable to settle, it is possible that your case goes to trial. The vast majority of injury cases in Alberta settle before trial, also referred to as “out of court” settlements.

How to prepare for a free consultation with our airplane accident lawyers?

We want to make your life easier, not harder. There is nothing you need to do to prepare for a consultation other than to pick up the phone. It is, however, recommended that you have basic facts such as the date(s) of travel, where you were coming from, where you were heading, and how the accident occurred. Other information such as potential witness contact information, pictures or videos, or any other relevant information can be reviewed later.

How can our Calgary airplane accident/injury lawyers help?

There are several ways an experienced aviation injury lawyer can help you and your family.

Having one of Canada’s largest injury law firms on your side means that you can focus on your health and recovery while we handle the legal side of things. Second, investigating an airplane accident in another part of the province, country, or the world can be complex and expensive. We work with industry experts to collect important facts and evidence to help build a strong case. Navigating international law is complicated. Courts across the world have and continue to create law that can impact your entitlement to compensation under the Montreal Convention. For example, what constitutes an “accident” is a constant work in progress. Court cases from all over the world provide guidance to lawyers on how to best advance aviation injury cases. Finally, even where liability or fault is accepted, insurance companies, airlines, or even a court will not simply pay you what you ask for. The damages in your case need to be proven by expert and other evidence. An experienced lawyer can help collect the relevant evidence to get you the compensation you deserve.

If you or a loved one were injured in an airplane accident, call our experienced airplane accident lawyers in Calgary. Call us today for a free consultation – there are no strings attached and you don’t pay a cent, unless you receive compensation.


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