My hand was scalded by hot coffee on an airplane because the lid on the cup I was given had not been attached properly. Does this entitle me to claim compensation from the airline company and is my claim assessed by the Injuries Board?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Question:

My hand was scalded by hot coffee on an airplane because the lid on the cup I was given had not been attached properly. Does this entitle me to claim compensation from the airline company and is my claim assessed by the Injuries Board?

Answer:

Provided that you have received prompt and 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 scalded by hot coffee on an airplane. The issue of how your injury occurred is not important in claims of this nature as, under the Montreal Convention, an airline accepts responsibility for your health and safety in all circumstances under its terms of carriage. Where you might encounter trouble with your claim for being scalded by hot coffee on an airplane is if the airline company´s insurers try to get you to accept an offer of compensation which is not appropriate to your injury.

How much compensation for being scalded by hot coffee on an airplane you are entitled to receive may depend on a number of different factors which the airline company´s public liability insurers may omit to fully take into account. Although you will be 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 scald may result in a visible scar. Furthermore, if you have suffered a temporary decline in your quality of life as a result of your injury on an airplane – or have incurred any costs due to seeking medical treatment at your destination – these should also be taken into consideration in the settlement of your compensation claim for being scalded by a hot coffee on an airplane.

Under the Montreal Convention, you are entitled to claim compensation from the country of your destination, rather than the country from which you flew. The airline company´s insurers may try to get you to accept a settlement of compensation for a hot coffee 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 scalded by hot coffee on an airplane by alleging that you contributed to the severity of the injury or the cause of the accident the by your own lack of care.

Consequently, it is recommended that you discuss the circumstances of your injury with a solicitor to determine how much compensation for being scalded by hot coffee on an airplane you may be entitled to receive and the best way to pursue a hot coffee scald injury claim. It may not be necessary to submit an application for assessment of your injury 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 point once your claim for being scalded by hot coffee on an airplane has been assessed.