There is a beach just outside the Princess Juliana Airport in the Caribbean that is really close to the planes as they land and take off. The planes get so close that people can actually stand on the beach and feel the blast from the engines. While most people would take a pass on standing close enough to feel the blast of a 737 jet engine, some people find it a thrill to hold onto the fence that surrounds the beach and feel that man made wind.
In July 2017, a 57-year-old tourist from New Zealand was standing at the fence, which had warning signs posted very close by, as a plane was arriving at the airport. The blast of the plane’s engine blew the woman off her feet and sent her rolling down the beach towards an outcropping of rocks. She hit her head on one of the rocks and died instantly. In April 2012, a video surfaced on YouTube of a woman being slammed against a concrete barrier at Princess Juliana Airport after being blasted away from the fence by a plane taking off.
Who Is Negligent When Tourists Act Irresponsibly?
In a place like Princess Juliana Airport, there are a lot of dynamics at work. The runway is very short, and that is why planes are forced to be so close to the ground when they land. Planes taking off are so close to the beach that people in the so called ‘safe’ part of the beach can feel the blast of the engines.
A jet engine exhausts heated air, which should be enough information to convince people to stay away from jets taking off and landing. The local government knows there is an issue, which is why the area is posted with a significant number of warning signs telling people to stay away from the planes. In the case of the New Zealand tourist, her family mourns but they all saw the signs and know that what they did was dangerous. There will be no lawsuit against the airport or the local government.
There are no stories about lawsuits against the airport, nor have there ever been any arrests in conjunction with people getting hurt or killed in the wake of plane blasts. One of the biggest reasons is that the significant amount of signage in the area allows people to know that what they are doing is dangerous. When people try the plane blast at Princess Juliana Airport, they understand the dangers they are getting into.
American Family Sues For Zip Line Accident On Vacation
Zip lines are becoming popular all over the world, and Thailand is a country that is attracting tourists for its zip lines through the jungles. In July 2015, an American family was vacationing in a Thai zip line park known as the Flight of the Gibbon. The negligence of the park workers led to one member of the family slamming into another zip liner at full speed and breaking several bones in her body.
To make matters worse, park employees were trying to encourage the injured guest to stand and walk when an American doctor on vacation noticed what was going on and told the employees to leave the injured guest on her back. When it was all over, the guest lost sight in her right eye, broke her pelvis, broke her tailbone, broke six ribs, and had a partially collapsed lung.
Officials at the zip line park dispute the guests’ version of the story, but they could not give details because the American victim and her family had a $1.4 million lawsuit pending against the park in a Thai court.
Are Tourists Liable for Their Own Actions?
In the case of the zip line accident, a lawsuit seems logical because the park was run by a company charging a lot of money for zip rides. It is the park’s responsibility to see to the safety of its guests, and the park failed in that responsibility for their American guests in July 2015.
When someone gets killed or injured outside Princess Juliana Airport, can them or their family sue? As many eyewitnesses have stated over the years, the area where the blasts happen is lined with warning signs and guests understand the danger. When tourists do something dangerous like that, they take their lives into their own hands.
But is it always the fault of the tourists? If someone who is not from the local area sees other people doing a dangerous activity and there are no readily apparent warning signs, can that person or their family sue if they are injured or killed? In Iceland, there is a spot along the ocean shore where the waves come crashing in in such a way that tourists and locals go out to feel the power of the waves. People have been injured and killed doing this activity, but are tourists completely to blame?
The local residents and the government in that small Icelandic town have built a path to that beach that is the only way to access the area where the waves occur. Along that path, there are two signs posted warning people to stay away from the waves, but even some locals say that more needs to be done to warn people about the waves. If the locals don’t think an area is sufficiently safe and there are not enough warning signs, then the tourists who have never been in that area before might not be to blame.
Can You Sue For Personal Injuries In Another Country?
The zip line example shows us that American tourists injured in other countries can file and pursue personal injury lawsuits against negligent parties in other countries. The catch is that any American who files a lawsuit in a different country has to go to that country to see the lawsuit through to the end.
It is possible for an American to sue a foreign company for a personal injury accident in American federal courts, but it is not easy. If the foreign company involved has an operating location in the United States, is known for doing business in the United States, or allows the case to be filed in American courts (which is unlikely), then the process for filing a case can begin. But before the case can actually be heard, the American court system has to convince the foreign country where the company is located that the American courts have jurisdiction in the case. The process can take a very long time, and it is not always successful.
Establishing International Liability When Injured
If you are injured on vacation, then you might have a personal injury case you can file. International liability is not as difficult to establish as you may think, provided you are prepared to fly to a foreign country several times to see your case through to the end. If there is an incident of tourist negligence in the face of plenty of warning signs, then injured tourists might not have a case at all. But if a tourist takes safety precautions and still gets injured while there are no warnings to be found, then a case could be made.
It is always best to be smart on vacation and avoid being the victim of tourist negligence. Even if safety precautions are not posted, you can use your own common sense to avoid injury or death. But if you are injured on vacation due to someone else’s negligence, then it is good to know that you do have the option of filing a lawsuit and getting compensated for your injuries.