Slip and Fall Case at the Airport

by admin on August 25, 2010

Subject: Slip and Fall accident at airport

Question: My mother recently fell on the jetway at the Ft. Lauderdale airport fracturing her right shoulder and hip. She was treated by the EMS at the gate and taken by ambulance to the hospital to be evaluated. She was immobile due to the fractures and had to have hip replacement surgery and rehab before returning home to Colorado. She is still in rehab right now. Who is liable, the airport or the airlines…maybe both? Would her own medical insurance pay first?

Answer: Cristy,
It depends on the airline, and where and how your mother fell.  I recently handled a claim for a person that was injured entering his flight at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport when he fell down.  There was a gap between the jetway and the plane in which he was boarding, and his foot and leg got caught in the gap, causing him to fall down.  In that instance, neither the airport or the airline was responsible.  There was a private company whose sole responsibility was to provide jetways to this particular airline.  The private company had insurance and that is who handled the claim. There are other airlines at Ft. Lauderdale International, from what I understand, that maintain their own jetways.

Whoever was responsible, and it may be joint responsibility between an airline, the airport (Broward County) and/or another company that provides the jetway, they are required in Florida to maintain the area in a reasonably safe condition, and to warn passengers of any dangerous conditions that the passenger may not be able to appreciate themselves.  So in order for your mother to pursue a claim for her injuries, there had to be some dangerous condition that caused her to fall.  That could be anything from water or something slippery on the floor, to a gap between the jetway and the plane, or a number of other conditions that may have caused your mother to fall.

It sounds like your mother had a very hard fall with some serious injuries she is going to have to deal with for quite some time.  Because of this, she should definitely pursue a claim, or at least investigate who is responsible.  I don’t know the date your mother fell, but there is most likely videotape of the area where she fell, and you need to put the at fault party(s) on notice now that the video should be preserved.  You also want to get busy identifying witnesses and preserving their testimony about how the accident occurred.

Your mother will have to obtain her medical care through her health insurance at this stage.  There may be medical payments insurance coverage through one of the at fault parties.  Medical payments (medpay) coverage will reimburse a person for out of pocket medical expenses incurred when a person gets injured on a property such as the airport.  But, because your mother has insurance, the insurance company will have a lien for benefits provided if the case is ever settled.  You can then use the medical payments coverage to reimburse the insurance company for its lien, thereby maximizing the recovery to your mother.

My office is fairly close to the Airport, and as I said above, I have handled a number of claims against companies doing business there.  I would be interested in speaking to you and/or your mother further about how her accident happened, and if she has a claim to pursue.  In light of the severity of her injuries, I would not recommend dealing with the County, or a private company or insurance company on her own.

Again, your mother should at least have someone fully investigate her claim now, rather than wait.  Evidence gets lost, and memories fade.  It is best to preserve whatever you can now.  Also, your mother has some serious injuries that she is going to be dealing with for a long time.

Please let me know if there are any other questions I can answer for you.

About the Author:
South Florida Attorney Joseph M. Maus and Associates has been helping victims of injuries and accidents for close to 17 years. The firm prides itself on having the resources and experience of the largest state-wide law firms, yet providing individualized attention to each and every client.
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