The Problem

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LEGAL LIABILITY & HIGHER STANDARD OF CARE

The Regional Airlines and the Airport Authority have been, and continue to be, legally responsible for multiple head injuries every year. Four critical issues that lead to millions of passengers' and crewmembers' head injuries per year are listed below, as well as one major oversight. All of these must be recognized and dealt with, without delay:

The height of today's average person is 5' 10" for males and 5' 4" for females. The height of regional aircraft entry doors are less than 5' 10" to less than 5' 2".

  1. The loading and offloading of passengers on regional jets is commonly done on airport tarmacs by the use of air stairs. The use of air stairs requires a passenger (who is usually carrying a laptop and a carry-on bag) to ascend the stairs looking downward to focus on the narrow, steep steps while trying to hold onto the loose-fitting hand rails. When passengers get to the top of the steps they straighten up from the slouched position and step forward. It is then passengers repeatedly have a collision with the top of the main cabin entranceway with the top of their heads or their foreheads on the hardened sharp shell of the aircraft.
  2. An additional concern, along with the aforementioned accident, is the occurrence of passengers losing their balance after striking their foreheads or craniums. The first natural reaction is to close one's eyes and take an immediate step backwards from the collision point. This provides an even greater risk of injury by either falling back down the steps or falling into passengers trying to load at the same time. During offload, passengers who strike their heads either collapse or trip forward into other passengers descending the steep and narrow steps. Each situation often leads to injuries to other passengers during the loading and offloading process.
  3. Another leading legal argument to introduce into the loading and offloading process, is the height of the aircraft in relation to the unattached jet bridge. Very few jet bridge designs are built to squat down to the lower height of a regional passenger jet to connect correctly and level to the aircraft main cabin entryway. When the jet bridge is dropped to its lowest point, it is still necessary for the gate agent to put a connecting ramp (bridge), with a high degree of curvature, for passengers to cross over. Depending on the angle and height of the jet bridge, this can create more than a six inch in height difference above the level of the base of the entryway frame, which the passenger or crewmember is not aware of due to the illusion that he or she is descending from the jet bridge into the entryway. This puts the average 5' 10" person's head at a 6' 1" to 6' 6" height, well above the level of the door entryway which is less than 5' 10," and places passengers, once again, in a situation in which they repeatedly strike their heads, causing injury. These head injuries also continue to take place since the passengers' and crewmembers' primary focal point is always downward on the narrow, loose and unsecure bridge.

Critical issue oversight: After a passenger or crewmember has struck the top of the entryway with his or her head, another major concern is the bio-hazard caused by an open wound in a public place. There are twenty-nine life threatening Airborne Pathogens according to OSHA; HIV, tuberculosis, pneumonic plague, hepatitis, pneumonia, and diphtheria are just a few that can be spread with just the smallest open wound. The threat of airborne pathogens is the most efficient method by which pathogens can increase contact to a large number of passengers and the general public swiftly. Route efficiency of transmission is one of the most important characteristics that should be considered when evaluating how large an impact infectious diseases can have on the general public. Pathogens are often spread rapidly in public when airborne due to an open wound.

Under Negligence Law, the defendant must use reasonable care to prevent harm to others. Negligence is defined as the failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm. Common carrier law definition requires the regional airlines to have the highest care and the vigilance of a very cautious person. In fact, the common carrier must do all that human care, vigilance, and foresight can do under the circumstances to avoid harm to passengers or property. If an airline or airport authority notices an unsafe area but failed to inform passengers, the airline may be on the hook under a negligence theory of liability.

Multiple legal text books define the Common Carrier Standard as a heightened duty of care. Regional Airlines fall into a legal category called "common carriers" -- entities that transport the general public for a fee. The law imposes a heightened duty of care on common carriers. Common carriers must act with a high degree of care and use the vigilance of a very cautious person in order to protect passengers from any potential harm. This standard of care extends to the airline's employees as well (including pilots, flight attendants, ground crew, maintenance workers and the airline's own safety inspectors). Common carriers also owe this heightened duty of care to passengers while they are boarding the plane, traveling onboard the aircraft, and getting off the plane. Once the passengers disembark, however, the airline is no longer legally responsible and the degree of care is now the legal responsibility of the airport authority. Some accidents may have several causes.

Failure to recognize the legal negligence without resolving their existing oversight, will lead Regional Airlines, Airline Insurance Companies and Airport Authorities to being financially responsible for legal resolution. These entities are all legally responsible to all the injured parties and also to other airline customers exposed to any airborne pathogen from the injured party. Workers compensation issues must also be equated into each of the legal responsibilities when a head injury commonly occurs to a crewmember. There are several crewmembers who will attest to the multiple head injuries and the need for medical attention to several passengers and crewmembers after each head injury occurrence. The Head Guard Company has, and continues to, gain the support of numerous crewmembers and Federal Aviation Administration Safety Inspectors that are willing to confirm the need for the Head Guard and are in support of plaintiffs.