Who pays for medical bills in case of emergency on board of an airplane?

UPDATED: Apr 22, 2011

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Who pays for medical bills in case of emergency on board of an airplane?

My husband had a medical emergency while flying internationally last year. He was taken to the hospital and after an EKG was “advised passenger would need to go to the hospital for additional tests” (quoted from the airline e-mail). My husband informed the flight attendants he was fine and ready to continue, but they would not let him unless he would do the suggested tests. Later on, we received a medical bill from the hospital in London. We are not able to pay because of the restricted income, and felt it was airlines’s responsibility afterall. Now it is sent to collection.

Asked on April 22, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, it is the responsibility of those who receive medical attention or care to pay for it. You state that the airline would not him continue on his flight unless he received medical attention; that is the airline's right, to refuse service to somone who could impose liability, costs, or risks on them, unless there is some assurance that he will not. You could have pursued other options, such as seeking a different flight for the next leg of your trip while also seeking a refund of the unused portion of your ticket. If you review your tickets, terms and conditions, and/or agreement with the airline, it is almost certain you will find some language that the airline may decline service to people in certain circumstances, or put considtions on their receiving service, which would apply here.

Bottom line: it was your husband's medical cost, and he complied because he wanted to be able to continue on the flight or trip he'd been scheduled for. In those circumstances, he is obligated to pay.

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