On January 24, 2016, the pilots of American Airlines Flight 206 were forced to make an emergency landing in Newfoundland, Canada after encountering severe turbulence. At least seven people sustained injuries in the in-flight emergency.
If you were a passenger aboard American Airlines Flight 206 and sustained injuries, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced attorney about your case, as you may be entitled to compensation.
Turbulence is often thought of as a common and expected part of flying, but it can cause serious injuries to passengers and the flight crew if proper safety procedures are not adhered to.
Turbulence injuries are most often caused by passengers failing to use their seat belts or return to their seats when prompted by the flight crew. However, negligence on part of the airline can also be to blame in the event that pilots, flight attendants, or other airline crew members fail to follow safety protocol or take necessary action to prevent passenger injuries.
Pilots monitor weather for signs of possible turbulence, and also receive reports from other pilots flying the same route about turbulence they’ve experienced, including the severity of it. It is for those reasons that pilots can warn passengers in advance that turbulence will be encountered, illuminate the Fasten Seat Belt signs, and cause the cabin attendants to make an announcement advising all passengers to return to their seats and buckle up.
Where severe turbulence is predicted, the appropriate action by the pilots it to deviate to a different route or airport.
If, for example, turbulence is forecasted and pilots fail to turn on the seat belt sign, or the crew fails to make the proper announcement, the airline can be held responsible for passengers’ injuries, medical costs, and other damages.
American Airlines Flight 206 Diverted to Newfoundland After Severe Turbulence
American Airlines Flight 206 departed from Miami International Airport at 3:13 p.m. local time, bound for Malpensa International Airport in Milan, Italy. Passengers aboard American Airlines Flight 206 told the media that the turbulence began a couple of hours into the flight, as the plane was at cruising altitude high over the Atlantic Ocean.
Passenger Gustavo Canga, 26, was seated near the back of American Airlines Flight 206, which was reportedly affected the most by the turbulence. He told reporters that once the turbulence started, it got progressively worse and worse. Canga recalled flight attendants being seriously injured when the plane dropped abruptly.
Another American Airlines Flight 206 passenger, Karen Case, said the plane “rolled onto its side” in the midst of the turbulence. “Everything went flying. It was pretty intense,” she said.
Some of the 192 passengers on board were so overwhelmed by the experience that they passed out. Others grasped for oxygen masks. The plane was filled with commotion-some people talking, others screaming. One of the flight attendants called for any medical personnel aboard the flight to come to the back of the plane.
As all of this was happening, Canga told reporters that he was just praying. “You realize, this can be it right here. I tried to remain calm. But you can’t help but think, ‘This is it.’ I was just praying to God.”
A woman seated near Canga-a pediatrician-went to assist one of the flight attendants who suffered a deep leg cut. A tourniquet was applied to try and stop the bleeding.
When the turbulence finally stopped, the captain of American Airlines Flight 206 took to the intercom to inform passengers that the flight would be making a stop in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Emergency crews were waiting on the tarmac as the plane made an emergency landing at St. John’s Airport just before 10:00 p.m. local time. Three flight attendants and four passengers aboard American Airlines Flight 206 were taken to an area hospital.
Most of those hospitalized were released the day after the American Airlines Flight 206 emergency landing. One flight attendant remained at Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s with injuries not considered to be life-threatening.
Injuries From Severe Turbulence
Injuries stemming from severe turbulence can happen under a wide range of circumstances, including:
- Flight crew failing to warn passengers of impending turbulence: If the flight crew is anticipating turbulence and fails to warn passengers, the airline can be held responsible for the ensuing in-flight incident.
- Falling objects: The Flight Safety Foundation estimates that roughly 4,500 incidents of injuries from falling baggage occur every year in the United States. The responsibility of ensuring overhead bins are closed and secure during flight lies with flight attendants. In the event that turbulence forces the bins to open and people are injured in the process, the airline can be held responsible.
Compensation for Victims of Severe Turbulence
The aviation accident law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman has represented a number of passengers who sustained injuries in in-flight emergencies. Below are several cases where severe turbulence resulted in personal injury claims:
United Airlines Flight 967 Turbulence Incident – On July 20, 2010, a Boeing 777-200 plane traveling from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles encountered severe turbulence roughly 60 miles southeast of Kansas City. With 265 people onboard, United Airlines Flight 967 diverted to make an emergency landing in Denver.
Seventeen passengers and four flight attendants sustained injuries in the in-flight incident. Media reports indicated that one passenger sustained critical injuries. Passengers told investigators that they were tossed around the cabin. Some hit the ceiling and overhead bins.
Baum Hedlund was retained by Aloma T. Lively, who hit her head on the overhead bin in the midst of the severe turbulence. When the plane made the emergency landing in Denver, Ms. Lively was transported to a hospital for treatment. She sustained a concussion, as well as neck and pelvis strains. Her injuries forced her to take a leave of absence from her job working at a high school.
United Airlines Flight 1028 Turbulence Incident – On January 21, 2008, United Airlines Flight 1028 was forced to make an emergency landing after severe turbulence left eight passengers and two flight attendants with injuries. The flight was supposed to take passengers from Los Angeles to Chicago but was instead diverted to Denver after experiencing severe turbulence over Nevada.
Baum Hedlund was retained by passenger LaTicia N. McIllwain, who sustained a sprained back and neck, as well as ligament damage in the incident.
United Airlines Flight 81 Turbulence Incident – On June 8, 1998, United Airlines Flight 81 experienced severe turbulence while traveling from New York to Los Angeles. Passengers said the plane entered a nosedive and triggered alarms.
Baum Hedlund was retained by passenger Caroline Anne Hayes Thomas, who was traumatized by the in-flight incident. Mrs. Thomas lost work because she was too afraid to fly in the aftermath of the United Airlines Flight 81 incident.
China Eastern Airlines Flight 583 Turbulence Incident – On April 6, 1993, China Eastern Airlines Flight 583 began “porpoising”-rapidly losing altitude in steep dives, then gaining altitude-repeatedly as pilots worked to regain control of the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 plane. The force of these steep drops and rapid climbs were so violent that several people aboard the flight were killed and many others sustained injuries.
The China Eastern Airlines flight was diverted to Alaska so the injured could receive medical treatment. One of those injured was lead flight attendant Li Na Li. During the in-flight incident, Li was violently thrown throughout the passenger cabin. She suffered significant head injuries that left her brain damaged and confined to a hospital bed.
Baum Hedlund represented Li and her husband, Shan Zhen, in their case against China Eastern Airlines and McDonnell Douglas. The lawsuit claimed that a design flaw on the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 allowed the pilots to bump the slat handle, which allowed an uncontrolled wing slat deployment. This action resulted in the steep dives and rapid climbs that left many with serious injuries.
Injured in American Airlines Flight 206 Incident? Contact Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman Today
If you were injured in the American Airlines Flight 206 in-flight incident, contact a Baum Hedlund aviation accident attorney today for a free consultation. Our aviation accident lawyers will investigate the incident-free of charge and advise you on your best course of action.