Unexpected Turbulence Personal Injury Claims Guide

People sat down on a plane about to take off

By Brett Williams. Last updated 4th August 2021. Encountering unexpected turbulence is a routine part of flying and although airlines can’t do anything about turbulence, they should have procedures in place to ensure that passengers and members of the cabin crew are not injured because of turbulence.
If you were injured during a flight because of turbulence, you could be entitled to make turbulence compensation claims. Accident Claims UK’s panel of experienced personal injury solicitors can handle your case on a No Win No Fee basis if they feel you are a strong claim against an airline.

Our solicitors have up to thirty years handling personal injury claims, so you’re bound to be in good hands. What’s more, they will always fight to win you the maximum amount of airline injury compensation that you could be entitled to claim.

To begin your No Win No Fee claim for an injury caused by unexpected turbulence, call Accident Claims UK for your free personal injury claims consultation.

Call us on 0800 073 8801, or use our online claims form. If we can see that you have grounds to make an in-flight accident claim, we will provide you with an experienced personal injury lawyer, who will start investigating on your claim right away.

Choose A Section

A Guide To Unexpected Turbulence Injury Claims

Turbulence is a phenomenon caused by an aircraft moving through rough channels of air. This causes the plane to shake. If you are on-board this may feel extremely unsettling. Is turbulence dangerous? Although pilots typically try to avoid turbulence when they can, turbulence isn’t normally dangerous. In fact, there hasn’t been a plane crash caused by turbulence in over 40 years.

However, turbulence can cause in-flight accidents because it can shake the plane and creates unstable conditions on-board. Research has show that 58 passengers in the United States of over 300 million who fly each year, are injured because of turbulence. Two-thirds of these were flight attendants or passengers who were not wearing seat belts.

Clients often ask us, “Can I sue an airline for an injury caused by turbulence?

Usually, you can claim in-flight injuries compensation, providing you were injured on a plane because of negligence on the part of the airline. For example, if you were hit by a snack trolley that rolled down the aisle because it’s brakes weren’t on, you may be entitled to claim compensation.

It may seem that it is not possible to claim for an injury caused by in-flight turbulence, as it is a naturally occurring phenomenon that the airline has no control over. However, the airline is responsible for keeping you safe during times of turbulence. If you are injured because your airline did not take proper precautions to protect you from a turbulence related injury, you could make a turbulence compensation claim against them.

To enquire about being compensated for severe turbulence related injuries, call Accident Claims UK to speak to one of our advisers.

What Causes Turbulence During A Flight?

There are many naturally occurring phenomena which cause turbulence. These include:

  1. Turbulence caused by the wind: Heavy winds close to the ground can cause turbulence. Pilots compare steering a plane through turbulence is much like steering a boat through rough seas
  2. Turbulence caused by rising air: At higher heights, streams of air rising vertically can cause turbulence
  3. Turbulence caused by jet streams: A jet stream is an unusually strong wind that blows at a higher altitude which usually blows west to east, which is why it usually takes longer to fly from Europe to America than it does on return
  4. Turbulence caused by mountains: Mountains can direct strong gusts of wind upwards, creating turbulence
  5. Turbulence caused by an aircraft’s wake vortex: This is when the wake vortex at the back of a plane, creates turbulence that affects another plane behind it

For free legal advice on unexpected turbulence claims, why not call our specialists today?

What Are The Different Types Of Turbulence?

There are actually 7 different types of air turbulence that can affect your flight. We will now explain what these are below:

  1. Clear air turbulence: CAT (Clear Air Turbulence) occurs 150,000 MSL (metres above sea level) and is caused by jet streams
  2. Thermal turbulence: Thermal turbulence is caused by a convective current, which is a column of rising air. Whenever warm air rises, it is compensated by a column of cool air which travels downwards at a slower speed, creating turbulence
  3. Temperature inversion turbulence: The troposphere, the region of the atmosphere which is nearest to the surface of the earth, is usually a layer of cool air with a layer of warm air over the top. A temperature inversion is when the troposphere becomes a layer of warm air, with a layer of cool air over the top, which can cause turbulence
  4. Mechanical turbulence: Mechanical turbulence can be created by buildings, hills or mountains creating irregular flows of air
  5. Frontal turbulence: Frontal turbulence is caused by the wind shifting between warm and cold air masses or a frontal surface, which causes instability
  6. Mountain wave turbulence: Mountain waves are peaking patterns of airflow, created by mountain peaks
  7. Thunderstorm turbulence: A thunderstorm can create up-drafts and downdrafts which can extend out of the storm, creating severe turbulence

How Does Unexpected Turbulence Happen?

Can pilots detect turbulence?

Yes, they can use an on-board weather radar to detect anomalies in the atmosphere that can cause turbulence. This allows pilots to avoid turbulence for the comfort of the passengers on-board. Many passengers find turbulence an unpleasant experience. and some passengers who are already nervous flyers may suffer from turbulence anxiety.

Unfortunately, some types of turbulence, such as clear-air turbulence (CAT) cannot be avoided. Therefore, clear air turbulence accidents are harder to avoid. During times of turbulence, the shaking of the plane can cause accidents to happen on-board. Airlines must take precautions to avoid passengers or members of the cabin crew being injured because of turbulence.

According to turbulence injury statistics released by the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK, in 2016 there were 1,370 instances of turbulence on UK flights. Of these instances, only 39 resulted in an injury, these were mostly people falling because of the plane shaking, or spilling hot drinks on themselves.

What should happen during turbulence to avoid accidents and injuries? Before the flight takes off, cabin crew must ensure that overhead lockers are properly secured to ensure that baggage does not fall out, striking passengers on their head. Ensuring that all crew and passengers return to their seats and wear their seat belts, service trolleys should be stowed so they cannot strike people, and hot food and beverages are not served.

If you have been injured because an airline did not take proper precautions to protect you during turbulence, you could be entitled to make a turbulence compensation claim. Call Accident Claims UK today for your free consultation and you have the right to claim, one of our personal injury solicitors will start working on your claim to be compensated for severe turbulence on a No Win No Fee basis if they determine you have a strong case against an airline.

Are Airlines Liable For Passenger Injuries?

Airlines have a duty of care towards everyone on board, so they must  take precautions to avoid passengers and members of the crew suffering from turbulence related injuries. Therefore, if you are injured during in-flight turbulence, because the airline did not take proper precautions to protect you, an example being that everyone on board had returned to their seats, and wore a seat belt, you could be entitled to seek compensation if you were injured on a flight due to turbulence.

Whether you were a passenger or a crew member, if you were injured because of an airline not taking precautions to protect you from unexpected turbulence, call Accident Claims UK today and ask us about suing an airline after an injury. If you have legitimate grounds to claim for your turbulence related injury, we will assign an experienced personal injury lawyer to start working on your claim right away.

Passenger Rights Under The Montreal Convention

If you are injured on a flight, you are protected under the Montreal Convention of 1999. The Montreal Convention states that airline passengers can sue an airline for any injuries or illness they suffer during a flight, which was caused by negligence on the part of the airline. You have the right to claim compensation from your own country, the departure country or the arrival country, as long as it’s a compliant state. The United Kingdom is compliant in the Montreal Convention.

To learn more about how we process unexpected turbulence claims, why not connect to live chat right away?

Steps To Take To Avoid Being Injured During Turbulence

Whilst it is important that airlines take responsibility for those on board, passengers on aircraft should also act accordingly, to help protect themselves from turbulence related injuries. For example, when the fasten sea-belt sign is on, and the pilot instructs passengers to fasten their seat belts, they ought to do so. Failure to follow these instructions can cause a passenger to be flung forward in their seat, causing them to be injured, or hurting the person sitting in front of them. If you disregard instructions from the flight crew, and are injured as a result, you may not be able to be compensated for severe turbulence.

What if unexpected turbulence occurs when you are already up, and are unable to get to your seat?

This is a legitimate concern for passengers. If you are in the aisle and there is a free seat, sit in it and do up the seat belt. If there is not, find something to hold onto. If you are on the toilet, there will be safety rails that you can hold onto to steady yourself.

Is Unexpected Turbulence Becoming More Frequent?

Unfortunately, global warming could cause clear air turbulence to increase in the future. This is because the temperature difference that divides the north and the south is likely to increase, resulting in stronger jet streams. As CAT increases, airlines will have to take more precautions to ensure that more clear air turbulence accidents do not happen.

Damages For Injuries Caused By Unexpected Turbulence

If you make a successful turbulence compensation claim you would be awarded general damages and special damages.

What is the difference? General damages will compensate you for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity your injuries have caused you. Special damages will compensate you for any expenses and financial losses you incurred, or will have to endure in the future, due to your in-flight accident. We have included some examples of special damages below:

  • Medical expenses: This can include the cost of an operation, physiotherapy, medication or any other medical treatment you needed as a result of your injuries
  • Travel expenses: This can include the cost of taking a taxi to the hospital when you landed or the cost of being repatriated home if you were seriously injured
  • Care costs: If you required at-home care after your accident, you can claim these as expenses
  • Mobility equipment or home adaptation expenses: If you have been seriously injured and have suffered impaired mobility as a result, you can claim compensation to cover the cost of any home adaptations or mobility equipment you may now require
  • Reimbursement of loss of income, or loss of future income: This can include your salary and benefits you would have received from your employer

Calculating Turbulence Injury Compensation Claims – Updated August 2021

Use our personal injury claims calculator to see how much your turbulence compensation claim could be worth.

Classification Of Injury Injury Comments Compensation (With Uplift)
Minor – Severe Neck Injury Various injuries to the neck. There may be damage to the connective tissues, muscles or bones. £2,300 to £139,210
Moderate – Severe Shoulder Injury May present as a dislocation or a frozen shoulder or other damage to the bones or muscle, etc. £7,410 to £45,070
Moderate – Severe Pelvis or Hip Injuries At the upper end, such injuries could affect the claimant as seriously as losing a leg. £11,820 to £122,860
Less severe – Severe Arm Injuries The victim may be left with a disability to the arm. Such injuries will fall short of amputation. £18,020 to £122,860
Minor – Moderate Elbow Injuries Most elbow injuries fit in this category. They may include things such as a laceration or tennis elbow. £11,820 Maximum
Moderate – Severe Leg Injuries The most serious or severe leg injuries do fall short of amputation which is categorised differently. £26,050 to £127,530
Moderate – Very Severe Ankle Injuries The claimant could be left much less able to walk. The ankle may be left less stable over the long term. £12,900 to £65,420
Moderate Cases Of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome CPRS could manifest with symptoms such as burning pains in areas of the body. £26,300 to
Multiple Fractures of Facial Bones – Single Category These fractures could leave the victim with a permanent deformity. £13,970 to
Moderate Back Injuries Various forms of injury to the back. £11,730 to £36,390

Please note, this personal injury claims calculator may not reflect your personal circumstances and does not include any special damages you could receive. For an estimate that includes how much in-flight injuries on aircraft compensation you could receive in general damages and special damages, which is personalised to you, call Accident Claims UK today.

No Win No Fee Unexpected Turbulence Injury Claims

If you have been injured because of a turbulence accident that was not your fault, you may be able to make a turbulence compensation claim. Accident Claims UK will give you the option to make a No Win No Fee claim. This means that instead of charging a solicitors’ fee upfront, you would only have to pay the success fee if we win your claim, so there is less financial risk to you.

For many of our clients making a No Win No Fee claim is not only less of a financial gamble but more affordable, as your fee will be deducted from your compensation package. To find out more about making a No Win No Fee claim for injuries caused by unexpected turbulence, call Accident Claims UK.

How Our Holiday Accident Claims Experts Could Help You

Have you been injured on a flight because the crew were unprepared for unexpected turbulence? If you have, you may be able to sue the airline for your injuries. Our solicitors know what your claim may be worth, and will always fight to win you the maximum amount of compensation that you are entitled to claim.

Call us today for your free consultation today and if you have the right to make a claim, we will provide you with an experienced personal injury solicitor to handle your case.

Start Your Unexpected Turbulence Claim

To begin your unexpected turbulence compensation claim, call us today or use our online claims form to contact us or call our team on 0800 073 8801.

Unexpected turbulence claims – FAQs

Can you sue an airline for turbulence?

If you can show that an airline was negligent and, as a result, you were injured because of unexpected turbulence, you could seek compensation for your injuries. An example might be where damaged overhead lockers meant that luggage fell on you and injured you during turbulence.

How long do you have to make turbulence compensation claims in the UK?

In line with the Montreal Convention, you need to make your claim within 2-years of the date you were injured. This is less time than you’d normally get for other personal injury claims (3-years).

How do I prove I was injured on a flight?

Several pieces of evidence can help with in-flight injury claims. They include accident report logs (if you told staff about the incident), witness statements and CCTV or mobile phone footage (where available). Additionally, medical reports can be used to demonstrate the extent of your injuries.

If you have any further questions about unexpected turbulence claims, please call today.

Essential Links

Make Your Whiplash Claim – If you have suffered a whiplash injury, please look at how to make a compensation claim.

Accident Claims To Help You Recover Compensation For Delayed Flights – Our guide to claiming compensation for a delayed flight.

Personal Injury Compensation Claims For An Accident On Holiday – A guide to claiming compensation if injured whilst on holiday.

Thanks for reviewing our guide about unexpected turbulence claims today. If we can help you begin your claim, please get in touch today.

Article by HC (Hanna)

Editor Honey