Articles Posted in Airport Personal Injuries

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Lots of people travel through the Atlanta Airport each day. Some are heading home, other are passing through and still others are headed to destinations in Atlanta. What all have in common, is that they have to negotiate one of the world’s most dangerous airports.

According to the Airport itself, “safety is one of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s core business functions. The Department of Aviation is committed to implementing a safety management system (SMS) that enables its management, employees, the airlines, tenants and other business partners to operate in a safe environment that minimizes exposure to hazards and risks and encourages all employees to report safety-related situations, incidents or accidents. Hartsfield-Jackson is dedicated to developing, implementing, maintaining and constantly improving strategies and processes to ensure that all aviation activities take place within the department’s planed allocation for resources, aimed at achieving the highest level of safety performance and complying with local, State and Federal regulations and standards. Hartsfield-Jackson’s leaders will provide the necessary policy direction, resources and environment for a successful SMS. Department of Aviation employees will implement the SMS in partnership with airlines, tenants and other business partners. All levels of management, beginning with the Aviation General Manager, are accountable for delivering the highest level of safety performance.”

While this is a fine statement, it fails in practice, as there are many people injured at the Airport due to negligent conditions such not as inadequate warnings, status defects that are trip hazards, and unsafe conditions created by Airport workers in and around the airport terminal.

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You have surely heard of car accidents, but have you heard of cart accidents. Well, if you regularly travel through Atlanta’s airport, you may. Along with a host of other incidents that result in serious injuries to airport patrons, cart injuries (those passenger shuttle carts operated by the Airlines and the Terminal Authority) in the terminals are on the rise, and many result in serious injuries.

Other injuries at Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport which are on the rise are:

  • trips, slips and falls on the marble floors and carpeting in the terminals;
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When a married person is severely injured due to the negligence of someone else (such as one of the entities at Atlanta Hartsfield Airport), the spouse owns a legal claim known as loss of consortium. Loss of consortium is legal cause of action in Georgia that is in place to compensate a spouse for the loss of services of the injured spouse. These services can include, but are certainly not limited to whatever the spouse did to contribute to the home before the injury and the loss and/or decrease in sexual relations. Many written discovery requests focus on this claim to the uninjured spouse (as they are also a Plaintiff in a case that includes claims for loss of consortium). Responses to these types of inquiries usually run along the lines of the following:

As a result of my husband’s injuries, we could not go out together to visit friends or other entertainment; we could not participate together in other activities outside the home as had been our practice; we could not perform any of our other usual activities together at home; his injuries resulted in irritability and helplessness leading to friction and, occasionally, arguments; and he was completely unable to participate in physical intimacy with me for an extended periods following the crash.  I was required to expend effort and time to care for my husband while he was completely disabled as well as to assist him to a greater degree than before during his continuing partial disability.  In addition, my husband was used to being a supportive, handy, helpful spouse and was unable to perform his household chores and assist me in other matters during that same time period.  I do not claim that my husband’s accident has caused us to lose the prospect of becoming a parent or of having additional children.  See my answers to the specific questions that follow for additional information.

Loss of consortium is a form of non-economic damages and is not subject to definite computation.  The extent of my damages are described fully in my other answers, which set forth the time period during which my husband was disabled from various activities.  Without waiving that objection, the aftereffects of my husband’s injuries still persist.  We cannot do all the things together that we used to do frequently because my husband is simply not up to it.  This continues to put a strain on our marital relationship.

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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;
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