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Four Passengers Seriously Injured on International Flight After Plane Hits Severe Turbulence

A flight headed from Rio de Janeiro to Houston made an emergency landing at Miami International Airport after severe turbulence injured multiple passengers, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Aug. 3. Airport officials said 26 people of the 168 on the flight were injured, four seriously. The plane was about an hour south of Miami, north of the Dominican Republic, at 4:30 a.m. EST when it hit the turbulence, dropping suddenly and knocking people out of their seats. FAA investigators were at the airport Monday to talk to crew members and establish whether other planes in the region experienced the same turbulence.

According to witnesses interviewed by the newspaper, the plane shook for about 10 seconds and oxygen masks dropped during the rough patch of air. During that time, one woman hit the ceiling of the plane so hard that her head stuck. Another was hit by a load of cargo and knocked unconscious. A doctor traveling on the plane treated the injured, with help from a passenger fluent in both English and Portuguese, until the plane could land in Miami at 5:30 a.m. Fourteen people were taken to hospitals, while the other injured were treated by emergency personnel at the airport. According to another Sun-Sentinel article, most of the injuries related to neck and back pain.

Neither article reported whether the “fasten seat belts” sign was on in the airplane before the turbulence hit. That interests me, as a Fort Lauderdale airplane accident lawyer, because it could be an important issue if any of the passengers or crew decide to make a legal claim against the airline. According to the Sentinel, turbulence injures about 58 Americans every year, usually people who are out of their seats (including flight attendants trying to do their jobs) or not wearing seat belts. Failure by victims to wear a seat belt, after a clear warning to wear it, could be considered contributing to their own injuries. That could hurt victims’ case in any South Florida aviation accident lawsuitand reduce their payments.

At Cohn, Smith & Cohn, we are proud to represent Floridians and visitors who were seriously injured by the negligence of an airline or airline employee. That includes failure to adequately protect passengers and crew from turbulence as well as bad decisions by air traffic controllers, pilots and others. With more than 25 years of experience, we have the background and legal expertise to handle the complicated issues raised by airplane accident cases, including questions of jurisdiction, insurance coverage and FAA investigation results. Our Plantation plane accident attorneys help victims of these accidents recover financial compensation for their physical injuries, pain and emotional trauma, as well as money to pay medical bills, make up for lost income and cover other accident-related costs.

If you or a loved one has been seriously hurt in an airplane in Florida, you should call Cohn, Smith & Cohn to learn more about your legal options. For a free consultation, please contact us online or call our main office in Hollywood at (954) 431-8100.

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