Establishing the Liability of an Airport

July 10th, 2020

Airports are large, busy entities with millions of people passing through on a yearly basis. In 2019, over 88 million persons traveled to or from Los Angeles International Airport, up 0.61% from 20181.  Thus, it is not surprising given the volume of passengers that airports are also prone to lawsuits.  Yet because airports are considered public entities, in California, they are subject to the California Tort Claims Act (“the Act”) which restricts how and when a public entity may be held liable for someone’s injuries. An airport can be sued if there is a specific exception permitting liability under the Act, such as when a person is injured by an employee’s actions done within the course and scope of employment, when a person is injured by a dangerous condition created by an employee or that the airport knew or should have known about. Common types of airport cases include:  

  • Slip and fall on liquid left by an airport employee mopping, in the restroom, or due to spilled beverages; 
  • Trip and fall over items left in walkways or on jet bridges; 
  • Trip and fall on uneven walking surfaces due to uplifted or broken tiles; 
  • Falling off of an unsecured chair in the airport waiting area; or 
  • Getting hit by an airport mobility cart. 

It is important to keep in mind the shortened statute of limitations when bringing a lawsuit against an airport.  Unlike a case against a private person or business, lawsuits against airports are subject to shortened timelines. Before even bringing a lawsuit, you must first file a government claim form within six months of the injury. Once the claim is denied, then you have six additional months from the date of the notice of denial to file the lawsuit. However, be aware that if written notice of rejection for a claim is not given, a person has two years from the injury to file a court action.  

A successful claim against an airport can result in a financial award for the suffered injuries. Compensation in a personal injury lawsuit can include medical bills, loss of income, property damage, and pain & suffering. 

Also, when it comes to suing a public entity, it is important to know that juries may not be as receptive to the claim because juries may feel like “they” are paying the damages through tax dollars. However, this additional barrier can be overcome through jury selection and knowing how to handle public entities, something KTL has had considerable success with.  In 2016, KTL won a verdict against an airport for a woman who seriously injured her back when falling in a negligently designed restroom. Ultimately, the jury awarded our client over two million dollars in damages. KTL’s experience in handling lawsuits against public entities provides us a unique insight and can be a valuable resource for persons injured at an airport. If you were injured at an airport, contact us today to set up a time to talk further about your options. 

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