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Flyer Sues for Mental Anguish Over Alternate Landing

Q: Can I recover damages for mental anguish without physical injuries?

Many people experience a manageable degree of anxiety when flying, particularly during take-offs and landings. But they choose to fly anyway, especially if it is required for their jobs.

Recently, a former Cedar Creek, Missouri resident reportedly filed a personal injury lawsuit against an airline seeking damages for “mental anguish, fear and anxiety” allegedly experienced when the airplane in which he was traveling made a rough, non-emergency landing at the wrong airport in 2014.

According to the lawsuit, the unintentional wrong landing happened because the captain and first officer were allegedly relatively or completely unfamiliar with the Branson Airport and had chosen a visual approach, with the first officer not wearing glasses as was reportedly required.

Reportedly, the seasoned business traveler became aware that the plane was not landing at the intended Branson Airport, but instead was landing at the smaller M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport a few miles away and at that moment he “was immediately struck with fear and anxiety over potentially crashing”.  His fear was allegedly based on his knowledge of the significant differences in the lengths of the runways of the two airports and the existence of an abrupt, cliff-like drop-off at the end of the shorter runway they were landing on.

According to a local aviation expert, “a Boeing 737 normally requires 5100 feet to land” and he said the runways at the M. Graham Clark and Branson airports are approximately 3700 feet and 7140 feet long, respectively.

While no one was reportedly seriously injured physically, landing on the shorter runway allegedly required the crew to “apply the speedbrake, thrust reversers and autobrakes” which reportedly resulted in passengers “slamming” into seat backs and the contents formerly secured in overhead bins spilling about the cabin. After the plane stopped only 300 feet shy of the runway’s end, the lawsuit alleges the plaintiff and about 125 passengers were left in the smoke-filled cabin of the airplane for two hours.

In addition to claiming months of “mental anguish, fear and anxiety” following the incident–including an alleged panic attack that prompted his removal from a subsequent flight – – the plaintiff claims he was “forced to find new employment at a ‘substantially diminished salary’” since he is no longer able to fly as required by his job at the time.

Often, when a person or entity acts negligently and those actions cause mental and/or physical harm to someone else, the victim can pursue a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensatory damages for their pain and suffering and financial losses.

When the alleged damages are strictly psychological, as opposed to mental anguish accompanied by physical injuries, the case may become a bit more complicated. In fact, states have different laws and standards regarding suing for emotional distress in the absence of physical injuries. So, seeking a highly skilled personal injury attorney to advise you of your rights is crucial.

If you or a loved one has been physically or emotionally harmed through the negligent or intentional actions or inactions of someone else, you may be entitled to compensatory damages. The Noland Law Firm can help you maximize the compensation to which you may be entitled. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our office in Liberty, Missouri, we are dedicated to representing injured people and their families throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area and Western Missouri, including Clay County, Liberty, Blue Springs, Independence, and Gladstone.

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