Questions About Airplane Accidents
Personal Injury Lawyers - Representing People Nationwide
How often do aviation accidents occur?
Although air travel is considered among the safest modes of transportation, when accidents do occur, they are more likely to be fatal and more destructive than accidents involving non-aviation vehicles.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), in 2006 there were two major aviation accidents - accidents defined as involving a major airline or large transport-category aircraft that was destroyed, substantially damaged with at least one fatality, or in which there were multiple fatalities. That same year there were also two serious accidents, seven nonfatal accidents involving injuries, and 22 accidents with no fatalities or serious injuries but in which there was substantial damage.
What are the most common causes of airplane accidents?
Because the damage suffered in airplane accidents tends to be extensive, it is often difficult to determine the cause. It is generally accepted, however, that the most common causes of airplane accidents include:
- Pilot error (most common)
- Aircraft part design flaws
- Mechanical failure
- Extreme weather conditions
Is an airline responsible for injuries suffered on an aircraft but not necessarily during a crash?
It depends on whether the actions taken by the crew, or lack thereof, contributed to the injury. An airline may be found legally responsible for injuries if, for instance, negligence by flight attendants contributed to injuries to passengers during severe turbulence. Airlines, however, are considered common carriers, and as such are expected to uphold a duty of utmost, not just reasonable, care.
Do I need an attorney in an aviation case?
In aviation cases it is virtually always advisable to obtain legal representation. Airlines will often seek to settle with a victims or decedents heirs before they retain lawyers. Most plaintiffs who retain attorneys, however, get much more favorable results. This is in part because aviation litigation tends to be very complex, requiring extensive research and investigation(s) requiring a skilled lead attorney. This holds true (actually even more so) in cases involving international flights, in which there may be damage caps for death or injury arising out of an airlines negligence. A skillful airplane accident attorney may be able to secure additional compensation by establishing willful misconduct or liability against third parties. For more on international flights, see Death on High Seas Act.
Who can be held liable for an aviation accident?
There is a multitude of potential defendants in a serious aviation accident case, including:
- The pilots employer
- Owners and/or lessors of the aircraft
- Suppliers and manufacturers of the aircraft and its components
- Those responsible for the aircrafts maintenance
- Chart publishers
- Air traffic controllers
- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
What kinds of damages can be recovered in airplane crash cases?
Except for certain international crashes, and as in most personal injury cases, plaintiffs can seek compensation for:
- Funeral expenses
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past, current and estimated projected wage loss
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages (if the responsible conduct was egregious)