My hand was burned by a hot drink on an airplane because the lid on the cup I was given had not been fastened properly. Does this entitle me to claim burn injury compensation from the airline company and do I have to go through the Injuries Board?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Question:

My hand was burned by a hot drink on an airplane because the lid on the cup I was given had not been fastened properly. Does this entitle me to claim burn injury compensation from the airline company and do I have to go through the Injuries Board?

Answer:

Provided that you have received timely professional medical attention for your injury, and the burn on your hand has been recorded in your medical notes, you should be entitled to claim compensation for being burned by a hot drink on an airplane. The reason how your injury occurred is not important in claims of this nature as, under the Montreal Convention, an airline accepts responsibility for your safety in all circumstances under its terms of carriage and you do not have to prove negligence. Where you might encounter difficulties with your claim for being burned by a hot drink on an airplane is if the airline company´s insurers try to get you to accept an offer of compensation which is not fitting to your injury.

How much compensation for being burned by a hot drink on an airplane you are entitled to receive is going to depend on a number of different factors which the airline company´s public liability insurers may not always fully consider. Although you will be automatically entitled to receive compensation for the pain and suffering you experienced at the time of your accident, this should be calculated with regard to your sex, age and the likelihood that the burn may result in a visible scar. Furthermore, if you have suffered a temporary deterioration in your quality of life as a result of your injury on an airplane – or have incurred any costs due to seeking medical attention at your destination – these should also be taken into consideration in the settlement of your compensation claim for being burned by a hot drink on an airplane.

Under the Montreal Convention, you are entitled to claim compensation from the country of your embarkation, rather than the country to which you were flying. The airline company´s insurers may attempt to talk you into accepting a settlement of compensation for a hot drink scald injury based on typical compensation settlements in the country which suits them best – whereas you may be able to get a far higher settlement – or contest your claim for being burned by a hot drink on an airplane by alleging that you contributed to the severity of the injury or the cause of the accident the by your own actions.

Therefore, it is advised that you discuss the circumstances of your injury with a solicitor to determine how much compensation for being burned by hot drink on an airplane you may be entitled to receive and the best way to pursue a hot drink scald injury claim. It may not be necessary to submit an application for assessment of your burn injury on an airplane to the Injuries Board Ireland if a quick and appropriate settlement of your claim can be negotiated, or if your claim is being pursued outside of the Republic of Ireland, but your solicitor will only be able to advise you on this area of your question once your claim for being burned by a hot drink on an airplane has been assessed.