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12 May 2021
In January 2021 the Jerusalem Magistrates Court accepted a claim filed against the Israeli Aviation Authority (IAA) by a passenger who had been injured while colliding with another person at Ben-Gurion International Airport (TLV), which the IAA operated.(1)
The court ruled that the presence of ground stewards in the terminal – even if considered to be a high standard – could have prevented the collision between the plaintiff and the other person.
The plaintiff and her spouse arrived at TLV late at night for their flight; according to them, the airport was unusually busy. While standing in front of the flight schedule board, an unknown person hit the plaintiff from behind and caused her to fall to the ground. After a few minutes and with the help of passers-by, she got up and caught her flight.
When the plaintiff returned to Israel, she had a bone scintigraphy (which had been scheduled in advance due to a previous accident), where she found out that she had suffered a shoulder fracture.
The defendant denied both the falling incident itself and the claim of unusual traffic inside the terminal. Further, the defendant claimed that ground stewards were always stationed at the entrances of the terminal. However, since the incident was not documented and no assistance had been given to the plaintiff by any of the defendant's staff, the judge concluded that no steward had been present near the place of the incident.
The judge stated that the duty of care of an owner of a premises towards a visitor on such premises had long been established. This duty also included the duty to protect visitors from accidents caused by other visitors on the premises.(2)
Further, the judge stated that not only could the defendant have foreseen the occurrence of such incidents, it had already experienced similar incidents in the past. In three other cases, the IAA had been found liable and ordered to pay compensation to passengers who had been injured in similar circumstances.(3)
The judge added that although it was uncertain whether the presence of a steward on site would have avoided the incident, the defendant was held liable for negligence as the burden was on the defendant to prove that the accident would have occurred without any connection to its behaviour.(4)
The judge awarded NIS56,000 to the plaintiff, who had suffered from orthopaedic disability (for loss of earning, loss of pension rights and pain and suffering), in addition to legal expenses.
For further information on this topic please contact Peggy Sharon or Keren Marco at Levitan, Sharon & Co by telephone (+972 3 688 6768) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). The Levitan, Sharon & Co website can be accessed at www.israelinsurancelaw.com.
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