Passenger Hit by Galley Cart on American Flight, Is AA’s Compensation Fair?

On almost any flight, you will see flight attendants coming down the aisle with a galley cart to offer drink or meal services. Those carts are actually much heavier than you might imagine; when fully loaded, they can be well over 200 pounds each. And because the carts have wheels, they must be securely braked during service and when not in use, so they don’t come running down the aisle in a cabin.

Galley cart on a Vueling A320. Source: Airbus

Galley on a Vueling A320. Source: Airbus

Well, Gilbert Ott over at God Save the Points was recently on an American Airlines flight where the brakes of a beverage cart was presumably not deployed properly. The galley cart came running from the galley during the initial climb, down the aisle of the entire Business Class cabin. It traveled for almost 40 feet, picking up speed along the way, and finally his knee, thigh, and leg. You can see images of the injury in Ott’s post. he flight attendants suggested that the flight be turned back to LAX, but Ott declined in order not to inconvenience anyone.

Here is a video of him discussing his incident.

On the flight, it seems that the crew handled the situation to the best of their ability. The pilot and purser both filed a report, a customer service representative met with him upon arrival, and he was wheeled out of JFK. He documented the injury, and reported the incident to American Airlines.

American’s Risk Management department reached out a week later, offering to cover the immediate medical expenses for Ott. In addition, they also offered a $600 travel voucher as compensation a gesture of good will if he promises not to sue the airline and seek reimbursement for medical expenses down the road (rehabilitation, physical therapy, etc.) Ott thought this was insulting, and decided to pursue additional compensation through the customer service department.

After another lengthy wait, he was finally offered a $200 travel voucher or 10,000 AAdvantage miles to put an end to the matter. American will not refund the cost of the flight.

Obviously, this is an accident that probably could have been prevented if they flight attendants deployed the brakes correctly. And Ott has a point when he said that the outcome could have been drastically different if the galley cart hit a passenger in poorer physical health.

You may remember that Delta issued refunds to everyone onboard the flight with an unruly pro-Trump passenger. On a JetStar flight, a passenger received free food and drinks and a full refund when his lost his pre-assigned seats. In no way am I even creating an equivalency between disruption on a flight and physical injury, but knowing about these other “incidents,” I do want to pose a question:

Do you think this is a fair compensation for a passenger physically injured by a runaway galley cart?

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Comments

  1. Yes its fair, the general American attitude on liability and compensation is ridiculous, stuff just happens some time. American is not liable.

    • Okay, regardless of the value attached, American Airlines is 100% legally liable for injuries caused either by malfunction of their equipment or a mistake made by their employee in routine operations which caused bodily injury to a passenger. I repeat, 100% liable, unless the passenger was not wearing a seatbelt and in the aisle during the initial climb. American is accepting the liability as well by offering compensation.

      • Well I’d advise Mr. Ott to seek professional representation and to cease and desist speaking about the incident in a public forum. Not up to us to decide. It’s a matter between Mr. Ott and any ‘potential’ tortfeasor.

        Strictly between those two. Sort of like our latest College Football ‘disagreement’

  2. Of course they’re liable – don’t be an idiot – do you not know the meaning of the word? How about “duty of care” if you’re British? He may suffer longer term unforeseen problems with damage to his knee such as arthritis. These lawsuits seek not only to remedy the victim but also to teach safety, prevention and design and regulation changes. If he takes the voucher all those things will be ignored.

  3. This is a case of clear cut liability on the part of AA. First, I would be certain there is no permanent injury that will require ongoing treatment. Then I would make a fair settlement offer to AA. If not accepted, sue them. While it is unfortunate that you may have to file a suit, its fairly easy to do and you will most likely get a fair settlement. AA won’t take this to court because they have zero chance of winning.

  4. Letting an unsecured cart roll down an aircraft aisle is just as negligent as letting an unsecured car roll out of a driveway and into the street. The negligent party should certainly cover anything that’s a consequence of the accident–medical expenses, rehabilitation, physical therapy. This is not excessive–it’s the bare minimum, making the victim of the negligence whole.

    If I were the victim of negligence and suffered an injury I would find $600 in lieu of subsequent actual expenses insulting too.

  5. What they should have done was comp the flight/RT itinerary he was on, issue him a $600 travel voucher, and offer to cover immediate medical costs. They are liable for the incident and should compensate him.

  6. With the stipulation they put in their initial offer that he may not come back if additional medical needs warrant due to the incident, is insulting. I am not a fan of a lawsuit but if they can’t fairly compensate him and be prepared there may be additional damage to his joints….well????

  7. I don’t understand why companies try to low ball someone where they are liable for damages. A few years ago I was injured in a car accident that was not my fault. I tried to settle with the insurance company. I asked for $10,000 to cover my current and future medical bills. They offered $3000 which was less than the medical bills I had already accrued. They were very rude. I hired a lawyer and they ended up settling for $40,000. Lawyer charged $10,000 so I still ended up with a lot more than I originally requested.

    I had never sued anyone until this accident. Unfortunately, we live in a country where you have to sue.

  8. NO way. Also I’m confused, they actually *reduced* their offer to $200 or $100 worth of AAdvantage miles after he rejected the $600 “promise never to ask for more for future costs” offer? Seems insulting. I agree that he should sue them (small claims court will hopefully be fine if he isn’t too badly injured) for the full cost of all medical expenses after receiving all appropriate care, and any lost wages etc. And for a refund of costs of the trip he was on if the trip was disrupted.

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