What You Should Never Do If You Are Injured On A Flight

Injured On A Flight

Published on July 4th, 2024

Getting injured while on an airplane can be scary and stressful. Knowing how to respond appropriately is important for your health and safety, as well as other passengers.

Here are mistakes to avoid in case you suffer an injury while on a flight.

Never Ignore an Injury or Delay Seeking Help

No matter how minor your injury may seem, you should always inform the flight crew right away.

Never try to downplay or ignore an injury as it can prevent a minor injury from becoming worse. Delaying reporting an injury denies you access to these resources and professional help.

Never Self-Medicate with Alcohol or Drugs

While it’s tempting to pop an aspirin or have an alcoholic drink when in pain, you should never self-medicate with drugs, prescribed medication, or alcohol.

It can mask the severity of your injury or interfere with treatment later on.

Never Remove Bandages or Braces

If you board a flight already wearing a bandage, brace, cast, or using crutches/walking support, never remove or adjust these without guidance from the flight crew.

Even if a brace or bandage feels loose or uncomfortable in flight, removing it could aggravate your injury and impair healing. Instead, ask a flight attendant for help adjusting braces or ice packs as needed.

Never Place Undue Stress on an Injured Area

Whether you suffer an injury before or during a flight, take care not to put undue strain and stress on the affected area once hurt.

Even if you feel okay, activities that jar movements or put pressure on wounds could exacerbate damage.

Follow doctor’s orders for keeping weight/pressure off injuries when possible while flying.

Use aids like crutches or immobilizing braces as instructed. Ask the flight crew for assistance moving about the cabin if needed to prevent re-injury.

Never Assume You Know Best

When anxious or in pain, it can be tempting to think you know what’s best for treating your injury.

However, always defer to the flight crew’s judgment in responding to an in-flight medical situation. Even with past experience managing a similar injury, conditions are different when flying at a high altitude.

Let the trained airline staff determine the appropriate response.

If they recommend something contrary to your doctor’s previous advice, explain your concerns calmly—they may adjust their guidance based on your history.

Ultimately, though, trust their protocols during the flight. And if you are still unsure of exactly what to do, click here for more information on what to do if you are injured on a flight.

What Support You Can Expect if Injured on a Flight

While flight crews aren’t medical professionals, airlines require thorough emergency response training to support passengers with in-flight injuries and medical issues.

So you can expect attentive, standardized care focused on stabilization until the plane lands.

Here are some forms of assistance commonly provided by cabin crews if a passenger suffers an injury or illness mid-flight:

First Aid Administration

Flight attendants are trained in delivering basic first aid, which could entail cleaning and dressing wounds, applying ice packs, distributing over-the-counter pain relievers, or helping passengers into comfortable positions.

For more advanced cases, many airlines equip attendants with items like automated external defibrillators (AEDs), EpiPens, intravenous kits, and other medical devices as well as emergency medical guidebooks.

Assessment & Monitoring

After an initial first aid response, the cabin crew will also monitor injured/ill passengers’ symptoms closely throughout the remainder of the flight.

This involves regularly checking vital signs, ensuring you are as comfortable as possible, asking questions to gauge whether your condition changes, and determining if escalation to advanced medical treatment is needed. Having you remain in sight allows attendants to continually reassess and report back to pilots.

Communication With Pilots & Possibly Doctors

Flight attendants maintain open communication with the cockpit, advising pilots on passengers’ evolving conditions and needs.

In extreme medical cases, pilots may also coordinate calls with ground-based physicians for consultation on appropriate care.

Relaying symptoms and vital signs allows doctors to provide guidance aligned with established emergency protocols.

If a health situation deteriorates significantly, pilots ultimately have the authority to divert and land early for emergency services.

Assistance Moving Around the Cabin

If ambulatory and advised to stay mobile, flight crews can provide injured passengers careful assistance moving about the cabin as needed—to access the lavatory for example.

Let staff know if you begin feeling lightheaded or weak so they can bring a wheelchair and safely transport you.

Help Arranging EMS Support Upon Landing

Before touching down, attendants will ensure emergency medical services are arranged to meet and transport injured/ill passengers if necessary.

This may involve paramedics, or even an ambulance prepared to whisk you to the ER.

The airline also designates staff to accompany passengers to the hospital if needed and serve as a helpful resource, interfacing with care providers.

Legal Responsibility if Injured on a Flight Due to Turbulence or Other Causes

A complex web of national and international laws, regulations, and liability standards come into play if passengers sustain injuries while flying—whether from turbulence, emergency landings, slips/falls, or other incidents.

Airlines’ Limited Liability

As per international agreements, airlines follow Montreal or Warsaw Convention protocols capping carrier liability for accidental passenger injuries at ~113,000 Special Drawing Rights dollars – equating to about $150,000 USD.

So if an injury occurs due to airline negligence like ignoring weather warnings or faulty equipment, recouping damages beyond this limit requires proving willful misconduct.

Claim Filing Time Limits

Those conventions also set limits on how long after an incident passengers have to formally file injury claims against airlines.

Timeframes range between 14 days up to 2 years post-event depending on specifics. Miss notification deadlines and your opportunity to seek compensation for injuries sustained expires.

Role of Third Party Insurance

Many airlines recommend or require passengers to purchase supplementary travel insurance policies covering potential medical emergencies, injuries, delays, lost baggage, and other issues.

These third-party plans pay out additional benefits regardless of an airline’s liability maximums or proof burden.

Check your credit card, travel club membership, employer, school, or own policy for potential supplemental coverage to tap.

Legal Complexity If Injury Caused By Another Passenger

If injury occurs due to another passenger’s intentional actions like assault or due to their negligence like ignoring crew safety instructions, liability determination splits further. Airlines still maintain limited responsibility for enabling the injury-causing situation.

However, affected passengers must directly pursue legal action against responsible parties as well.

Role of International Laws & Jurisdiction Confusion

Finally, international travel also muddles which countries’ laws have jurisdiction, where to file lawsuits and other legal complexities.

Injury claims against airlines can bounce between federal courts, legal systems of passenger and carrier national origins, and the destination country. Consult aviation attorneys to navigate this tangled web for the best injury compensation outcomes.

While airlines must provide prompt aid for in-flight medical emergencies, obtaining additional care reimbursement requires proactively documenting damages and then negotiating a convoluted global legal framework spanning liability limits, tight deadlines, insurance offsets and complex jurisdictional rules.

Key Takeaways If You Suffer An Injury While Flying

Hopefully, an in-flight injury never occurs, but if you do get hurt while traveling by plane, keep these key takeaways in mind:

  • Notify cabin crew immediately – never downplay or hide an injury hoping it resolves itself. Timely assistance prevents worsening.
  • Carefully follow all instructions and guidance from airline staff – crews are extensively trained on in-flight emergency protocols.
  • Provide supplemental medical details if it aids response, but defer to staff’s judgment.
  • Stay courteous to other passengers also impacted by the stressful situation.
  • Allow basic condition updates to nearby passengers to ease anxiety spreading through the cabin.
  • Expect crews to provide essential first aid, continued monitoring and coordination with doctors and emergency services.
  • If an emergency landing occurs, the priority is transporting you quickly to a hospital ER for specialized care.
  • Recovering damages requires proactively documenting and negotiating complex legal liability limits and international laws.

While in-flight injuries are uncommon, being prepared with appropriate expectations and response protocols helps ensure health and safety.

As a general rule, you should stay calm, listen to airline staff, focus on your needs, and let crews coordinate necessary care until you’re safely admitted to a hospital