Legally reviewed by:
Setareh Law
December 8, 2023

The hustle and bustle of an airport often provides a backdrop for unfortunate accidents such as slips and falls. These incidents can lead to severe injuries, ranging from sprains to fractures or even head trauma. Liability can be a complex issue to navigate due to the various factors involved in an airport. 

At Setareh Law, we understand that such cases must be handled with expertise and care. We are dedicated to helping our clients receive fair compensation for medical costs, lost wages, or emotional distress resulting from these unfortunate incidents. In this article, we will discuss the various aspects of legal responsibility and liability for slip-and-fall accidents at an airport.

Common Causes of Airport Slip-and-Fall Accidents

One of the common risks comes from wet or slippery floors, which are often a result of recent cleaning activities, accidental liquid spills, or tracked-in moisture from bad weather. These conditions can easily lead to slip-and-fall accidents, causing harm to unsuspecting passengers rushing to get to their plane.

Similarly, structural flaws like damaged flooring, irregular surfaces, or areas under repair can pose a significant risk. Passengers may not notice these problems until it’s too late, leading to falls and associated injuries. Poorly lit areas add to this danger, as they make it difficult for travelers to clearly see and avoid potential hazards in their path.

Airports, being busy public spaces, also face the issue of clutter. Walkways or passages may be congested with objects like cleaning carts, discarded items, or misplaced luggage. Such obstacles can easily cause someone to trip and fall, particularly if they’re in a hurry or carrying heavy bags.

Elements of Negligence In Airport Slip-and-Fall Injuries

Establishing liability in a slip-and-fall accident at an airport often necessitates proving negligence by the airport or a party related to the airport. At the core of proving negligence are several elements:

Duty of Care

First, it must be demonstrated that the defendant (in this case, the airport or related party) owed a duty of care to the victim of the slip and fall. This means that the defendant had a responsibility to ensure the safety of the victim.

In an airport context, this duty of care is manifest in the airport’s responsibility to maintain a secure and hazard-free environment for all passengers. Airports must take all reasonable steps to prevent accidents, such as ensuring regular maintenance, promptly cleaning spills, providing adequate lighting, and removing obstacles that could cause a fall.

Breach of Duty of Care

The second element of negligence involves showing that the airport breached this duty of care. This means that the airport failed to uphold its responsibility to maintain safe conditions. If, for example, an accident occurred due to a spill that was not cleaned up in a reasonable time, this might be considered a breach of the duty of care.

Cause of Injury

The final component of proving negligence is establishing that this breach directly caused the victim’s injury. If the victim slipped and fell due to the aforementioned spill, sustaining injuries as a result, then a direct link between the airport’s negligence and the injury can be established.

Severity of Injury

In essence, if it can be conclusively shown that the airport had a duty of care, failed in that duty, and this failure directly caused an injury, the airport may be held legally liable for damages. Depending on the severity of the injury, these damages could include medical bills, lost wages due to an inability to work, and compensation for pain and suffering.

Private vs. Public Airports: Who Is Liable?

The ownership type of an airport plays a significant role in determining the course of a slip-and-fall case. It’s important to understand the difference between public and private airports and the implications these differences have on potential legal proceedings.

Public Airports

Public airports are typically owned and operated by governmental entities, which can range from local city authorities to state or federal government bodies. In slip-and-fall cases involving public airports, the concept of sovereign immunity often comes into play. Sovereign immunity is a legal doctrine that protects government entities from being sued without their consent.

This doesn’t mean it’s impossible to sue a public airport, but it does mean that the process can be more complex and constrained compared to suing a private entity. Claims against public entities often have specific procedures that must be meticulously followed. For instance, you may need to file a notice of claim within a certain period after the accident, and there may be caps on the damages that can be awarded. Failure to follow these procedures could jeopardize your claim.

Private Airports

Private airports, on the other hand, are owned by corporations or individuals. In cases involving private airports, sovereign immunity doesn’t apply, and these entities can be sued in a similar manner to any other private property owner.

When a slip-and-fall accident occurs at a private airport, the injured party may sue the airport owner or operator for negligence, just as they might after a fall in a shopping mall or an office building. The duty of care and rules around liability are similar to those in any other private premises.

Determining the appropriate defendant in a slip-and-fall case can be complex. Depending on the circumstances, liable parties might include the airport authority, maintenance companies, or airlines. For instance, if an accident occurs at an airline’s gate due to poor maintenance, the airline could be a potential defendant. However, this greatly depends on whether the airport is private or public and who is responsible for maintaining the particular area.

Get Help Fighting Your Slip-and-Fall Injury With Setareh Law

Understanding liability in an airport slip-and-fall case can be a complex endeavor. Given the potential obstacles involved, it’s advisable to seek the guidance of experienced legal counsel. Our experienced lawyers at Setareh Law can help make sure you get the compensation and support you deserve after your airport slip and fall. 

If you’ve been injured in a slip-and-fall accident at an airport, contact us today. Our experienced personal injury lawyers will work diligently to hold the correct parties responsible for your injuries. Reach out to us online or call us at (310) 659-1826 today to schedule your no-obligation consultation. We also speak Spanish.