Settlement For Young Child Injured By Exploding Aeroplane Seatbelt Airbag

Aviation Lawyers Secured Settlement After 4-Year-Old Suffered Burns


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

The mother of a 7-year-old girl who was burned when an airline seatbelt airbag exploded in her face before a transatlantic flight has spoken out after aviation lawyers at Irwin Mitchell secured an undisclosed settlement for the injuries her daughter suffered.

Daisy James, who was just four at the time of the incident, was attempting to fasten her seatbelt on-board a Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited flight from Washington Dulles Airport to London Heathrow in May 2012 when an airbag contained in the seatbelt exploded in her face.

The explosion burned through Daisy’s t-shirt and caused burns, cuts and bruises to her face, left arm, chest and thigh. Paramedics were called to the scene and she was declared fit to fly back to the UK with her grandmother.

On her arrival at Heathrow her mother, Gillian, 37, who was picking her up was ‘shocked’ to see how swollen her daughter’s face had become and immediately took her to see paramedics, who took Daisy to Cheltenham Accident & Emergency department, where she saw a plastic surgeon.

She was then transferred to the burns unit at the Frenchay Hospital, Bristol and Gillian was told that Daisy should never have been allowed to fly with the injuries she suffered.

Daisy’s injuries made it difficult for her to eat or drink and for a number of months after the flight she suffered nightmares relating to the incident and was referred to a child psychologist at the Frenchay Hospital as she had developed a fear of loud noises.

Gillian, from Leckhampton, Cheltenham contacted expert aviation lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the incident and they have now secured the family an undisclosed five-figure settlement from Virgin Atlantic Airway Limited, although it was never discovered why the airbag exploded.

The funds secured for Daisy will be used to ensure she can access the best possible treatment to aid her physical and psychological recovery.

Nicola Southwell, an expert aviation lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, who represented Daisy’s family, said: “This incident has had a huge impact on a very young child, not only physically in terms of the injuries Daisy suffered, but also psychologically, as it had an significant impact on Daisy’s day-to-day life.

“Daisy’s trip to America with her grandmother was supposed to be memorable for all the right reasons, but the family have been left with terrible memories of the holiday.

“While safety measures are, of course, absolutely crucial on flights it is clear these airbags can cause serious injury if they are activate during normal use of the seatbelt.

“We are delighted to have secured a settlement for Daisy and her family that will ensure she continues to get the help she needs to overcome the psychological impact this incident had on her and enable her to begin to put it behind her.”

Gillian, a Project Controller, said: “I couldn’t believe it when I saw Daisy come into the arrivals area at Heathrow. I was absolutely shocked and couldn’t believe she had been allowed to fly with such serious injuries.

“To find out that her injuries were caused by an exploding airbag on-board the plane was absolutely shocking – the device is supposed to be a safety measure but actually caused my daughter serious injuries.

“After the accident not a day went by when Daisy didn’t mention the airbag exploding and she struggled to sleep for a long time afterwards. I don’t want this to happen to any other families and I hope airlines and the manufacturer can prevent this from ever happening again.

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in air accident claims.