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United Airlines Comes Under Fire After an Infant Passenger Suffers “Traumatic Injury”


In a recent turn of events, a young girl who was aboard a United Airlines flight from Amsterdam to San Francisco with her family, suffered a “traumatic injury” to her left middle finger and extensor tendon as a result of her hand getting stuck in an unguarded hinge mechanism of the armrest that was attached to her Economy seat.


During the 10-hour flight from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to California, the curious infant stuck her finger into the uncovered hinge of the armrest while it was still extended upwards. While her finger was still stuck inside, the armrest suddenly started moving downward, trapping the girl’s hand in the mechanism.


A Negligent Accident

Fortunately, there were medical professionals on board who acted immediately and assisted the injured toddler. Although the doctors tried everything, they could do to assist the girl, her injury was so severe that she required immediate surgery to repair her extensor tendon and ulnar collateral ligament.

The infant’s father will now be legally suing the United Airlines in a Chicago court, alleging that his daughter suffered a terrible injury due to the airline’s negligence. He argued that this incident could have been very easily avoided if proper measures like covering the unguarded hinge mechanism were implemented aboard the flight.


A lot of United economy seats have special guards covering the armrest hinges, which are specifically designed to prevent injuries like these. Although a lot of United Airlines flights have implemented this security measure, not all United Airlines flights have it. The injured infant’s family is bringing the lawsuit under the Montreal Convention. Montreal Convention is an internationally recognized treaty that imparts specific rights to passengers in case they suffer an unexpected accident or injury while traveling.


The ‘Montreal Convention’ Punishment 

Under Article 17 of the Montreal Convention, airlines will be held responsible for most injuries sustained by passengers during the course of an international flight. Under Montreal Convention, there are very limited exceptions where airlines can excuse themselves from taking responsibility. According to the current rules of the Montreal Convention, airline liability for damages is capped at approximately 1,288 Special Drawing Rights, for more popularly referred to as SDR. SDR is a made-up currency which is equal to five real currencies.

According to January 2024, 1,288 Special Drawing Rights are currently equivalent to $1,714. In majority of the cases that fall under the Montreal Convention, claims are designed in a way that it becomes really hard for the airlines to counter them. In this case, a claim of negligence was filed against the United Airlines. This claim could, down the line, result in a much bigger compensation payout after following an extensive litigation process.


Although United Airlines is not known for releasing any official statement regarding lawsuits filed against them, a spokesperson for United Airlines did address this incident. The spokesperson stated that “the safety of their customers” was the organization’s highest priority. In addition to this, the spokesperson also mentioned how the plane’s crew had “arranged for the customer to be met by medical personnel when the flight landed.”



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