Airline Steward Bitten By Venomous Insect Awarded £13,000

Almost every job involves at least some risk and, if you are injured at work, specialist lawyers should always be your first port of call. In one unusual case, an airline steward who suffered grave consequences after being bitten by a venomous insect during an international flight has been awarded compensation.

The man was relaxing in his bunk during a rest period on board a transatlantic flight when the insect bit his left forefinger. The species of insect concerned has not been definitely identified, although it may have been a brown recluse spider, a venomous native of the USA. He only felt a small nip and thought little of it at the time.

However, his hand subsequently swelled dramatically and, on attending hospital, he was informed that an infection triggered by the bite was life-threatening and that amputation might be necessary. In the event, his hand was saved, but the man launched proceedings against the airline.

In arguing that the incident could not reasonably have been foreseen, the airline contended that it had rigorous pest control measures in place. It pointed out that international flights are vulnerable to insect infestation, with bugs being carried aboard by crew and passengers hailing from all over the world.

Upholding the man's claim, however, a judge found that the airline had focused its pest control efforts on bed bugs in passenger seats, that being considered the most prevalent hazard. There was no adequate reporting system in place in respect of other types of insect infestations in crew rest areas and the airline had taken a reactive, rather than proactive, approach to such issues. In the light of the judge's decision, the man's damages were agreed at £13,000.

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