Civil Aviation Injuries FAQs
If you have suffered a bodily injury as a result of an “accident” on board an aircraft or in the course of any of the operations of embarking or disembarking an aircraft, in Queensland or elsewhere, you may be entitled to compensation.
The Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act 1959 (Cth) and the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act 1964 (Qld) set up a “strict liability” regime for aviation claims against the carrier of the aircraft and its agents. This means a claimant who sustains bodily injury in an accident, does not need to establish negligence to recover compensation.
There is an extensive body of both international and Australian case law considering the meaning of an “accident” for the purposes of Civil Aviation claims. Not all personal injuries sustained on an aircraft will be compensable. We can advise you in detail about your right to make a Civil Aviation claim and your prospects of success.
These claims will often be against an insurer of the carrier, not the carrier directly. In those circumstances, it is the insurer who will pay any damages. If the defendant is uninsured, they will be required to pay any damages personally.
Different rules apply depending on whether the carriage was international, interstate or intrastate– we can advise you about that.
Notice of the intention to claim should be given to the carrier and its insurer as soon as possible after the accident.
Strict time limits apply to make a Civil Aviation claim – you need to get expert advice now about the time limits which apply to you.
That depends on the amount of damages you recover.
Legislation in Queensland restricts the amount an insurer has to contribute towards your costs – we will provide detailed advice about this. Even if the insurer is required to pay something towards your costs, it will not cover your entire costs. The difference will be paid from your settlement or judgment monies. We will discuss this with you in detail when we give you our initial Costs Agreement and before you instruct us to act on your behalf.
This is impossible to say without knowing a lot more about you and your claim. Some relevant factors include:
- the severity and extent of your injuries – it is vital that your injuries be stable and stationary before any settlement negotiations commence – in Queensland, any damages you receive will be in full and final settlement of your claim.
- whether the insurer disputes your injuries were sustained in an “accident” for the purposes of the relevant legislation and, therefore, that you are entitled to receive compensation.
- your age – if a child is injured, it is sometimes best to wait for them to finish school and start work so that an accurate assessment of the impact of their injuries can be made.
It may be necessary to institute proceedings in a court for a Civil Aviation claim depending on the nature of the “accident” and how long after the accident you seek legal advice due to the strict time limits that apply. Civil Aviation claims are very rarely decided by a judge. Even if proceedings are issued in court, claims frequently settle before reaching trial.
If we think you have reasonable prospects of success, we will usually agree to act on a speculative basis. That means we will not charge for our professional fees unless and until your claim is successfully finalised.
We do require payment of any costs or outlays (eg. medico-legal reports from a specialist) incurred on your behalf, even if your claim is not successful. We will not incur significant outlays without first discussing it with you. An estimate of outlays will be provided in our Costs Agreement.
Our costs will be reasonable – we will discuss them with you in detail before you instruct us to act on your behalf and will enter into a Costs Agreement with you. We strongly recommend you seek independent legal advice about the Costs Agreement before you sign it.
It is impossible even to estimate the amount of damages you might recover in a Civil Aviation claim without knowing a lot more about you and your injuries. Damages you might recover include:
- Medical and other out of pocket expenses
- Loss of income
- Pain and suffering
- Care and assistance
- Aids and equipment
- Future expenses
There is a cap on the amount of damages that can be recovered from the carrier in a Civil Aviation claim. The amount of the cap varies depending on the circumstances of the carriage, for example, whether it was an international or domestic flight and whether it was interstate or intrastate.
You may also be entitled to make separate claims for additional insurance benefits such as income protection and total and permanent disablement benefits. You will find more information about these claims under Income Protection and Disablement claims.
No, you can handle the claim yourself.
However, Insurers have extensive experience in defending Civil Aviation claims and will often instruct lawyers to act on their behalf. Civil Aviation claims are also a highly complex area of personal injury law and require a thorough understanding of an extensive body of both international and Australian case law. Insurers cannot provide you with independent advice. You may find yourself at a disadvantage if you do not have legal representation.