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Virgin Atlantic has paid an undisclosed five-figure settlement after a four-year-old girl was injured when an aircraft airbag exploded in her face.

Daisy James, from Gloucestershire, had been fastening her seatbelt on a Virgin flight from Washington Dulles airport to Heathrow when an airbag secured within the belt she was wearing mistakenly deployed.

She suffered burns to her face, causing it to swell to three times its normal size, as well as her chest, arms and thigh.

Many airlines including Virgin, Emirates, United Airlines and Iberia have airbags built into the seat belts designed to lessen the impact of crashes with minor injuries.

Her family sought legal help and have now received a settlement from the airline nearly four years on from the incident when Daisy was travelling with her grandmother in May 2012, the Mirror reported.

Virgin Atlantic, which apologised to the family, admitted liability for proven loss within the ambit of Article 17.1 of the Montreal Convention 1999.

This makes the carrier liable if a passenger is injured in an accident which happens on board the aircraft or in the course of embarking or disembarking.

Nicola Southwell, an expert aviation lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, who represented the James’ 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 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.”

A Virgin Atlantic spokeswoman said: “We have expressed our sincere apologies to the family and while it doesn’t lessen the impact of what happened, we have reached a settlement to the family’s satisfaction.

“We have investigated the incident thoroughly and can confirm that it was an extremely unusual and isolated incident.”