Our office was sympathetic to hear the story of a poor pregnant Sydney woman, Ms Meghan Rachel-Cochrane, who was allegedly ‘forced’ to sleep on a Brisbane Virgin Terminal floor.
This is a complicated situation where Virgin Airlines must balance its service policies with the woman’s well being and its general duty of care to
its customers. However, passengers who undertake flights must also be aware of their duty to mitigate their situation as well.
A Duty of Care to its Customers
Virgin Airlines cited its policy as the authority for refusing Rachel accommodation and access to the member’s lounge.
It is important that airlines adhere to a strict duty of care to protect customers from foreseeable harm. Pregnant women according to Virgin Airline’s pregnant while flying policy are not allowed to travel on a 4 hour or less flight after their 38th week of pregnancy.
However, the policy also stated that, “If you are 28 weeks pregnant or more, you will be required to carry a letter from your doctor or midwife, dated no more than 10 days prior to travel, outlining the estimated due date, single or multiple pregnancies, the absence of complications, and your fitness to fly for the duration of the flight(s) booked.”
It is uncertain in the article if Virgin Airlines has followed all of its standards including requesting a doctor/midwife letter. However, had this
situation resulted in an injury or a complication to the childbirth while the Rachel was within the airline’s care, then she may be entitled to
compensation for Virgin’s negligence in allowing her to fly contrary to their own policy.
The Importance of Emotional Integrity When Assessing Legal Rights
On the facts, Rachel did not seem to have suffered any real loss. This is an important consideration to make for travelers. You are not entitled to
compensation simply on the grounds of minor and temporary discomfort.
It is very easy for people to become emotionally attached to their situation, their frustration and anger. Sometimes, this leads people to irrationally
pursue legal action in order to seek the “justice” that they think they deserve.
A Brisbane personal injury lawyer will advise you on the potential of success in your claim with consideration to liability issues and an estimate
of compensation under the various heads of damages.
Do not be fooled into making a potential nuisance claim where pursuing legal action costs will exceed your potential for compensation. Sometimes, a
lawsuit is simply not worth pursuing.
It is very easy for readers to assume that Rachel may have been ‘forced’ to sleep on the floor. Australian society is very respectful towards pregnant
women such as enforcing priority seating in public transport. However, this general policy is not effective at compelling a private company to
accommodate a pregnant woman who falls within their contract terms.
While Rachel certainly was entitled to some sympathy, there were a number of other actions she could have undertaken to mitigate her situation:
- Sought accommodation herself at her own expense
- Paid for access to the lounge;
- Considered taking out travel insurance to reimburse her for situations such as this; or
- Considering the absolute necessity of her flying while she is 36 weeks pregnant, especially when she is subject to Braxton Hicks contractions.
Takeaway from this Situation
It is to the discretion of a company to decide how they will treat their customers. However, from an objective position, a customer should always be
prepared to consider worse case scenarios prior to flying.
Travel insurance is an important component to compensate for exceptional circumstances outside the traveller’s control. While it costs an additional
amount of money, it also provides an avenue of relief that may come sooner than pursuing a lengthy litigation claim.
Personal Injury Lawyers Brisbane - East Coast Injury Lawyers
Do you have a question about your legal rights? Let us know.
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One important factor for claimants to find in a personal injury law firm is their adaption to new technology. A law firm that stays antiquated with paper
only systems and out-dated computer software can potentially bring increased costs to clients through inefficienc
For example, a task such as conducting research may go exponentially faster with legal staff up-to-date with technological trends.
However, that is only one aspect on how technology is evolving personal injury claims. Another significant way to see technology in personal injury
law is on how it is affecting the claimants themselves.
How technology is changing your claim outcome is the topic in this series of articles. East Coast Injury Lawyers will assess and give insight on some
of the most recent and impacting technological trends that are affecting Australians with their personal injury claims in workers compensation
and motor vehicle accidents.
Since Facebook was invented in 2004, it has been both the blessing and bane of people all over the world. As a one stop source for personal news, pictures,
videos and gossip, Facebook has exploded in popularity and set the stage for other social media outlets such as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and
The Social Proof
Don’t believe us? Even law firms are proud to show off their office’s culture and accomplishments through social media. Check out our social media
FACEBOOK GOOGLE+ PINTEREST INSTAGRAM
The Dark Side of Social Media
However, on a more serious note, social media has also brought up a darker side of online networking in the forms of cyber stalking, bullying and even
promotion of illegal activities. The increased amount of abuse online stems from one central problem with online social media: privacy.
It is always possible for people to steal your identity, or even just spoil your image by posting a bad photo, comment or video about you. It is also
possible for such online activities to progress to more serious situations such as assault and battery.
These problems may lead to potential altercations and injury that can lead to compensation by suing the aggressors for an intentional tort.
How Social Media Affects Your Legal Rights
Despite increased privacy security settings, information stored online is often far from private. Such power to spread your image and information worldwide
in a simple way has also made social media a great resource for insurance defence investigators to pry into your private life when a claim is made
for compensation in both motor vehicle accident and workers compensation claims.
Social media may also be subpoenaed to be used as evidence in court.
Insurance companies often bank on claimants thinking that their information online is inaccessible. However, simply having access to general information
such as favourite places or activities can potentially expose claimants to a slew of credibility attacking evidence; most of this information may
not even help defend against a claim but could nonetheless make an insurer more resistant to settling on favourable terms.
For example, a direct keyword Facebook search can reveal information about you through public sites pages such as Facebook groups and organization
Facebook pages. Investigators may also learn about your hobbies and search those same groups for information about you. One of the most common
examples I have come across was investigating claimants who were ‘unable to raise their arms, bend or twist their hips’ but were caught dancing
in various poses contrary to their complaints because photos of them were published on a nightclub website.
Advice from East Coast Injury Lawyers
This was the very issue that arose from the recent 2015 decision in Digby v The Compass Institute and Anor.
In this case, a woman was injured at work when a police safety presentation caused one of her clients to fall and she injured her arm trying to
protect the client. She sued her workplace for damages in negligence and although she was successful in holding her workplace liable, her damages
were limited significantly because of evidence found on her Facebook page (that was not revealed until the trial.)
Social media should not be seen as an “end all” to a personal injury claim. However, it definitely should be managed early in a claim to minimize how
an insurance company can use that information against you.
It is also important that you follow ALL the advice of your medical doctor regarding your limitations and your capabilities. Almost all medical professionals
acknowledge that patients have good days and bad days. Following the advice of your doctor and remaining active within their accepted parameters
will not only help heal you faster, but it can also potentially mitigate the effects of a potential social media issues by giving a reasonable
and viable justification to some of your activities (e.g. I said that it was difficult for me to walk after the accident, by my doctor advised
to try and do a little walking more and more each day.)
Read the rest of the entry...
In the process of dealing with an accident and personal injury, there is the constant requirement to manage your emotions during the settlement process.
Perhaps, one of the worst times this arises is in the settlement conference of the pre-trial stage. Read the rest of the entry...
Today's article comes in response to a horrible story about a young man who was saved by a mother after he was set on fire because of an alleged road rage incident.
The attack occurred on Wardoo St near Southport. Read the rest of the entry...
This is an especially important article for enquiries we receive from workers in Brisbane, Mackay
and Townsville. We hope that this information helps clarify some of the questions that we receive on a regular basis from these clients. Read the rest of the entry...
On 11 November 2015, the Queensland State Government made an announcement to consider options to implement a National Injury Insurance Scheme (NIIS). The
purpose of this insurance scheme is to protect people who have catastrophically injured in motor vehicle accidents, irrespective of fault.This reform
may bring Queensland up to a standard that most States have already achieved. Read the rest of the entry...