When Dr. David Dao was forcibly removed from a Kentucky-bound flight on April 9, 2017, he became the focus of the world’s attention. Dr. Dao was on the last portion of an international flight that would ultimately take him back to Louisville, Kentucky where he needed to see patients the following day. He was approached by a United employee who told him that he needed to give up his seat for someone “more important than you.” After refusing, officers from the Chicago Aviation Department forcibly removed him. According to Dr. Dao’s attorney, Thomas Demetrio, the 69 year old was hospitalized and treated for several injuries including a concussion, a broken nose, and had his two front teeth knocked out.
Personal Injury Lawsuit Likely
Mr. Demetrio stated his client was incredibly “shaken up” over the way that he was removed from the flight. He stated that it was likely that Dr. Dao would file a personal injury lawsuit that names both United and the City of Chicago as defendants.
Since Dr. Dao’s removal from the flight, United has changed their overbooking policy. Crew members for other flights will no longer take precedence over paying customers. Mr. Demetrio told the press that his office has received several calls from other passengers who were removed from other United flights. He said that there “literally hundreds of tales of woe and mistreatment.”
Elements of a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Personal injury lawsuits are civil lawsuits. The plaintiff sues one or more persons if they are hurt because of something they did or did not do. Personal injury lawsuits are based on the concept of negligence. There are four elements to the legal theory of negligence.
- There must be a legal duty. Dr. Dao’s attorney will first need to show that United owed a legal duty to Dr. Dao.
- The duty must be breached. Next, Dr. Dao’s attorney will need to show that United breached their legal duty in some way.
- The breach of duty must cause an actual injury. The question here will be whether United breached their legal duty of care toward Dr. Dao and whether that breach of duty is what caused his actual injuries.
- There must be monetary loss of some sort. Monetary loss can mean a lot of things. In Dr. Dao’s case, it could be lost wages since he was hospitalized and could not care for his patients the following day. It could also include the medical bills that he incurred because of his injuries. It could also include dental expenses from the loss of his teeth. If he lost any personal property during his removal, it could be included. Dr. Dao may also be able to include pain and suffering as well as ask for punitive damages against both United and the City of Chicago.
What Is Next?
On April 17, 2017, a hearing took place in Chicago to order United to protect and preserve evidence related to Dr. Dao’s forcible removal. The emergency request included the preservation of all video, cockpit recordings, surveillance video, passenger list, crew list, and other potential evidence. This evidence could be used by Mr. Demetrio moving forward in Dr. Dao’s personal injury lawsuit. Whether the personal injury lawsuit will make it to trial or be settled remains to be seen.