We have mentioned before the difficulty of arguments about whether an incident on a flight is an “accident” so as to attract the strict liability provisions of the Montreal Convention for Compensation)

There is plenty of case law that says an accident is an “external event” ie something that would not normally happen on a flight. This is the law that has been used to exclude DVT claims and the sort of claim where someone will knock their knee on a stationary piece of airline equipment within the flight. There has to be some external unusual event about the flight that causes injury.

In this case the claimant slipped on a headrest that had fallen on the floor at the end of a flight.

The Judge found that, even if the claimant had slipped on the headrest, which ultimately he did not accept, this was not an unusual or unexpected event in the course of the flight. At the end of a flight there would be plenty of paper and headrests etc on the floor.

The aircraft was being operated in the usual and normal and expected manner of its operation and this was not an unexpected or unusual event. So there was no accident for the purpose of Article 70 in the Montreal Convention and the claimant failed.

Comment: this was a difficult decision. The definition covers an accident and this was on the face of it an accident like a slip at work. If you or someone you know has suffered an injury on holiday or developed an illness on holiday, telephone us on 08000 224 224 for accurate personal injury claim advice.

Central London County Court, 21 January 2010.