News / General

DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS - AN ACCIDENT?

By SLAS Spokesperson

Under Article 17 of the Warsaw Convention 1929, airlines which carry passengers internationally may be liable for accidents causing bodily injury. However, Mr Justice Nelson found that the onset of deep vein thrombosis sustained during the course of or, arising out of, international carriage by air was incapable in principle of being an accident for this purpose. This decision was upheld in the Court of Appeal and also by the House of Lords in In re Deep Vein Thrombosis and Air Travel Litigation issued 8th December 2005 and reported in the Times of 12th December 2005. It was found that there are two important requirements for the application of Article 17, namely, that an event or happening which was no more than a normal operation of the aircraft in normal conditions could not constitute an Article 17 accident and, second, that the event or happening that had caused the damage of which complaint was made had to be something external to the passenger. The occurrence of deep vein thrombosis, even if it had been caused by cramped seating arrangements on a long haul flight, did not meet either of these requirements. Article 17 has the advantage that fault does not require to be established but also the disadvantage that if the requirements of the Article are not met, then there is no remedy in terms of the Convention, even where fault may be present. Both the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords were unanimous and this particular line of enquiry would appear to be closed.

By A Member

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