Unlike any other injury case, injuries that happen on passenger aircraft are complex and complicated. One of the main issues that you could face is whether the ACAA applies. The ACAA stands for the Air Carriers Access Act, and whether it preempts a negligence claim. If the ACAA is applicable, the case may be dismissed. If the ACAA is not applicable, the case proceeds
Typically, a “failure to provide services” type of case is most likely going to be one that is preempted by the ACAA. For example, the case of Gill v. JetBlue Airways Corp., 836 F.Supp.2d 33, 45–46 (D.Mass.2011): In Gill, the plaintiff was a incomplete quadriplegic, with some use of his upper and lower extremities. As a result, the plaintiff in Gill uses a wheelchair. The plaintiff in Gill was unable to use his own wheelchair to get him to his seat, and required to transfer him to a special wheelchair that could fit between the aisle.. Unfortunately, the wheelchair malfunctioned and it caused the plaintiff in Gill to slide off the wheelchair, severely injuring himself. The Gill court finally held that because the ACAA regulations provide no alternative standard of care to that contained in the state tort law, the claim of negligent provision of assistance is not preempted.
The best case so far is one out of our own backyard. Adler v. WestJet Airlines, Ltd., 31 F. Supp. 3d 1381 (S.D. Fla. 2014). The Court in Adler stated,
“WestJet contends that because Congress did not intend to create a private cause of action for ACAA violations, the Adlers may not assert a negligence claim implicating ACAA standards. The Court rejects WestJet’s argument because although the ACAA may be relevant to WestJet’s duty of care, the mere fact of its relevance does not convert the Adlers’ negligence claim into a preempted claim to enforce the ACAA.”Adler, 31 F. Supp. 3d at 1385.
As such, to prevail in your personal injury case against an airline, it is imperative that your complaint is structured not to touch the ADAA, and instead focuses on general negligence. The best way to do that is to make sure the allegations are such that do not involve “failure to provide services.”
At Your Pain Lawyer, our team is dedicated to our clients’ success. We understand how challenging it can be to get your life back on track after an injury on an airplane and are here to help. Don’t hesitate – contact us today to learn more about your options and how we can use the law in your favor.