Doctor needs reconstructive surgery to treat head injuries from forced plane removal

A doctor who was forcibly dragged off an overbooked plane will have to undergo reconstructive surgery for injuries he sustained during the incident, his lawyer said.

Dr David Dao was only released from hospital on Wednesday night, three days after he was removed from the United flight with such force that he was reportedly knocked out and was left with blood streaming down his face.

The 69-year-old grandfather suffered a "significant concussion", a broken nose for which he must undergo surgery shortly, and also lost two front teeth, his lawyer Tom Demetrio told a press conference today.

"Concussions are sort of an iffy condition," he said. "Ultimately, long term hopefully there will not be any significant repercussions because of that but he is shaken."

Dr Dao's legal team also confirmed that he expects to sue the airline over the incident.

A preliminary hearing is set to take place on Monday to compel United to preserve evidence over the incident.

Videos of the doctor being violently wrestled from his seat and dragged along the plane gangway have prompted outrage around the world, and turned into a PR nightmare for United.

Dr Dao's lawyer today said that the footage taken by horrified fellow passengers was clear evidence that the plane's staff had broken the law.

"Here's the law, real simple: if you are going to eject a passenger under no circumstances can it be done with unreasonable force or violence," he said.

“I would defy anyone to suggest that there was not unreasonable force and violence used.”

He added: "He is a 69-year-old man. Is that really the way we want to treat the aged?"

The lawyer said it was too early to set a figure on the potential compensation package due to Dr Dao.

Mr Demetrio said he had since been contacted with "literally hundreds of tales of woe and mistreatment" from other United passengers and staff since the incident went viral.

The press conference also heard from one of Dr Dao's five children, named Crystal Pepper, who said that they had been "shocked and sickened" to witness footage of the assault on him.

"What happened to my dad should never happen to any human being regardless of the circumstance," she told journalists.

Initially, United chief executive Oscar Munoz apologised for having to "re-accommodate" passengers, but did not address the violence caught on camera.

An internal memo seen by NBC News also appeared to lay the blame on the "disruptive and belligerent" Dr Dao.

But following days of sustained anger and an almost $1 billion plunge in the company's share prices, he issued a third statement offering his "deepest apologies", and saying it was "never too late to do the right thing".

The Chicago Department of Aviation said three of the officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave.