Articles Posted in Airport Personal Injuries

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As reported by the AJC, the City of Atlanta has agreed to a $1.8million payment in a case involving fraud allegations.

The City of Atlanta did not admit liability as part of the settlement reached with the U.S. Departments of Justice and Labor over federal subsidies to employers that provided on-the-job training after the Great Recession. According to the article, The Justice Department’s False Claims Act investigation found that Atlanta’s workforce agency paid out job training funds while failing to provide required services. Investigators think the city subsidized employees who were ineligible, did not receive training, or received inadequate training, the settlement agreement states. The City of Atlanta (or its agents) apparently also did not assess clients to determine what help they needed. The article further notes that “[f]ederal officials stated as part of the settlement agreement that it did not intend to launch civil investigations into 58 current workforce development agency employees. But the settlement does not release the city from administrative sanctions or free individuals from criminal prosecution. The city also agreed to fully cooperate with federal investigator.”

In addition to the above, City of Atlanta liability (through its agents or employees) can be premised on most legal theories that are available in private causes of action in Georgia such as breach of contract under O.C.G.A. § 13-1-1 or O.C.G.A. § 51-1-1 or O.C.G.A. § 51-1-11, damage to realty under, conversion, nuisance, numerous negligence theories, gross negligence, negligence per se, premises liability, negligent security, medical malpractice, breach of a non-delegable duty, principal and agent liability, partnership and joint venture liability, bailor and bailee liability, and others.

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Not only is Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport the world’s busiest, it also is one of the airports in which people suffer the most personal injuries. Many of these injuries occur while passengers are boarding or exiting planes, while transferring to connecting flights in the airport terminals, or when exiting the airport terminal and parking garages. This is especially true with the recent increase in passenger travel through Atlanta, which acts as a the major connecting hub for the South.

The airlines which transport passengers and the Airport (which is owned, operated and managed in varying degrees by, among others, the City of Atlanta, the Atlanta Airlines Terminal Corporation “AATC”, and the individual airlines) are responsible for maintaining safe traveling conditions for passengers and their families while traveling. Many passenger are hurt while traveling and many of these people are injured due to the negligence of one or more of the entities who are responsible for ensuring the safety of the passengers. During the busiest travel times, there is a marked increase in injuries to elderly or disabled patients who are injured while being assisted through the terminal by airline or airport employees, to passengers as they are boarding or exiting the airplanes, from falling overhead items when the plane is in the air, from unsafe conditions on airport elevators and escalators, and from inadequate security in and around the airport approaches and parking areas.

Due to the complex operational nature of the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport and how the operation and maintenance of the airport is conducted, it is essential that an incident report be made if a passenger is hurt in the airport. In most cases, it is up to the injured person to request, and often times insist, that an incident report be made. Once the incident report is made, you should request a copy of the initial incident report, along with an Incident Report number and the name and contact information of anyone that the injured passenger should follow-up with. You should also try to get the name, telephone number and address of any witnesses to the incident, regardless of whether they are on the Incident Report or not. This information usually proves to be helpful in keeping track of the claim, witnesses and who has worked on the claim for the insurance company or AATC. This process also documents the injury and will, in most cases, document the location of the accident, the injuries that were sustained, the name and contact information of any people involved and any additional information that might be important.

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With the holiday season approaching, we once again have detected an increase in the number of slip and falls and trip and falls in the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport and its parking lots and approaches. This is not new and it’s hardly surprising. When the number of travelers through the airport increases, the number of accidents and injuries rises exponentially. Why? There are a number of reasons for this, but probably the biggest reason is that the airport and airline employees are overworked and stretched too thin. When this happens, safety invariably suffers. Floors are mopped without “Wet Floor” warning signs being placed to warn travelers of wet floors, airplane exit ramps are extended but not fully fastened which leads to trip hazards, dropped food and spilled drinks and water are not removed quickly and are left on the floor as hazards, airline personal are too busy to safely navigate the busy terminal in machinery, extension cords and other equipment are left on the terminal floor as trip hazards, broken seats in the terminals go un-repaired and lead to injuries; restaurants and fast food establishments in the terminals leave food and other hazards on the floor, safety checks are not performed as often as usual, elevators and escalators receive heavier than normal traffic which leads to malfunctions and safety hazards, terminal trains are often late to stops and overcrowded leading to trip and falls and other accidents, and traffic in and around the airport is at an all-time high which leads to more accidents and injuries in the parking lot and approaches to the terminals.

To have a valid premises liability claim, an injured person at the airport generally must be able to prove the following:

  • The airport (which includes the terminals, the approaches to the terminals and the surrounding parking lots and property) contained a dangerous condition;