Cross & Smith LLC


Birmingham Airport Accident and Alabama Premises Liability

Mar 30, 2013 - Wrongful Death by

A falling airport sign killed a 10-year-old boy and seriously injured his mother, Reuters reported.

The Kansas woman and several of her children were pinned beneath a flight display sign in a newly renovated area of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. Media reports indicate the sign weighed as much as 400 pounds. Authorities say an 8-year-old boy received inpatient treatment at Children’s of Alabama. His 5-year-old brother was treated and released. Unfortunately, the 10-year-old did not survive his injuries. reported the mother’s injuries include two broken ankles and a broken pelvis. The family had been in Birmingham enroute back home after Spring Break in Florida. 556111_loading_airplane

Our Birmingham wrongful death attorneys know this tragedy will be thoroughly investigated; but who does the investigating may ultimately help determine whether those responsibility are held accountable. Airport officials would not speculate on the cause. However, the investigation should include the contractors and subcontractors who recently remodeled that area of the airport. The incident occurred in a pre-security area of the modernized terminal — Concourses A and B. The area re-opened March 13.

Birmingham Mayor William Bell is also calling for a thorough review of the incident.

We’ve written before about sovereign immunity and the complexities involved with bringing tort claims against a government entity. The Alabama constitution prevents the state from being named a defendant. Updates to the law in 1975 also prohibit punitive damages against the state. However, such protection is not absolute, and pursuing a third-party liability lawsuit against contractors and subcontractors may provide another means of recovery.

Another risk for victims is the lack of an independent investigation when dealing with an accident on government property or involving a government or municipal entity. Such challenges are commonly seen in traffic accidents involving police officers or safety vehicles. When government is both investigator and defendant, the outcome of such investigations is not always entirely objective.

CBS 42 reports the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport Authority held an emergency meeting following the fatal incident. The meeting was held in executive session and so was not open to the public. And, while the board said it was making every effort to ensure the safety of other visitors, it offered no specifics regarding additional safety measures to be put in place.

Media reports indicate a second sign board, similar to the one that fell on the victims, has been removed. Construction began in June 2011. The project’s second phase, the renovation of Concourse C, is slated to begin soon, with completion sometime next year.

Alabama Premises Liability Injuries

A more common occurrence is injury on business property, where recovery is also more straightforward. Alabama businesses have a duty to provide safe passage to customers and guests. When a visitor is injured, he or she may file a personal injury claim against the business’ liability insurer in order to obtain compensation for damages.

Other common types of property injury cases, include:

-Dog Bites
-Fall Accidents
-Struck by Object
-Evacuation Injuries
-Elevator/Escalator Accident
-Stairwell Injuries
-Parking Lot Accidents

Additional Resources:

Alabama officials probe fallen airport sign that killed boy, Reuters News, March 25, 2013.

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