Do You Need an Airplane Accident Lawyer?
Airplane travel continues to be one of the safest modes of transportation. According to The Economist, the chances of a plane crash is 1 in 5.4 million. In comparison, your chances of dying in a motor vehicle crash are 1 in 106.
While the stats paint a comforting picture, aviation accidents can and do happen. In 2018, there were 1,347 aviation accidents in the U.S. Moreover, a total of 393 deaths resulted from plane accidents.
The chances of an airplane accident are slim. However, when it does occur, damages can be significant. Additionally, dealing with multiple parties, liability, and injury claims can be overwhelming. But, an experienced airplane accident lawyer can help you navigate the legal complexities of a plane crash.
Types of Aviation Accidents
Aviation accidents can take on many forms. Here are some common types of aviation accidents:
- Commercial Airline Accidents: The nature of these accidents can be extremely complex due to the large number of passengers involved. It can also garner significant media interest. Because the commercial airline industry is so heavily regulated, major errors would’ve been made, leading to a crash. Sorting out liability from the varying parties will require extensive coordination and expert counsel from an aviation accident lawyer.
- General Aviation (i.e., Private Planes): Private planes have various uses, including sightseeing, recreational flying, business travel, and more. The risk for a general aviation accident is generally considered higher compared to commercial airlines. Private planes are typically smaller and can lack up-to-date safety features that larger commercial planes may possess.
- Helicopter Crashes: Helicopter accidents can result in significant injuries or fatalities. Some of the most common causes include pilot error, poor maintenance, defective parts, or weather conditions.
- Air Ambulance: Air ambulances are used to provide medical services to patients, transporting them from an accident scene to a hospital. Due to the high-pressure circumstance, accidents can occur, causing significant injuries or death. Air ambulances can be either a medical helicopter or a fix-winged aircraft.
Airplane Accident Severity Levels
The International Civil Aviation Organization classifies the severity of an airplane accident into five levels:
- Catastrophic: A complete loss of the aircraft or multiple passenger deaths.
- Hazardous: An incident resulting in severe damages to the aircraft or serious injuries to the passengers.
- Major: Aircraft sustained major damage. Passengers suffered minor injuries as a result of the accident.
- Minor: Both the aircraft and passengers suffered minor damages and/or injuries.
- Negligible: An accident that results in no damages to the aircraft. Passengers may have suffered a minor injury or discomfort.
Whether it was a major or minor accident, you should consult with an airplane accident attorney after an incident. Even minor injuries can manifest themselves into much larger problems in the future. Your plane crash attorney will help you obtain the claims, compensation, and care you need after your accident.
Causes of Aviation Accidents
The causes of an aviation accident can be difficult to determine. Often there are multiple factors contributing to the accident. Here are some common causes of plane crashes.
While technology has dramatically improved safety in recent years, pilot error is still a significant cause for aviation accidents. Pilots undergo a large amount of situational stress when operating an aircraft. Whether it’s fatigue, cognitive overload, or inadequate training, an error in judgment can result in disastrous consequences.
The pilot is generally the most obvious person liable in this case. However, depending on the accident, other parties such as the airline company or the aircraft manufacturer could be held responsible as well.
Another common cause of an airplane crash is a mechanical failure. An aircraft consists of complex systems and subsystems that enable it to fly safely. A failure on any part of the system can be cause for an accident. The underlying reasons for mechanical failures can include:
- Faulty design
- Manufacturer defects
- Maintenance issues
- Missed inspections
As you can tell, the parties potentially liable for a mechanical failure can be varied. Whether it’s the aircraft engineers, manufacturer, maintenance company, or some other party, determining who was responsible can be an involved process.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, weather-related accidents contribute to 23% of all aviation accidents worldwide. Poor weather conditions like thunderstorms or winter storms can make flying dangerous.
However, pilots are trained on how to navigate extreme weather conditions. They should also be monitoring weather conditions prior to takeoff—delaying the flight if necessary. Weather-related plane crashes usually don’t occur in isolation. A combination of factors like pilot inexperience, miscommunication, or faulty parts can also play a role.
Air Traffic Controller Error
Air traffic controllers have several key responsibilities in keeping planes safe. They must:
- Communicate with pilots during takeoff and landings
- Control flight paths to avoid collisions
- Make pilots aware of in-air emergencies
- Ensure air traffic is efficient and safe
Air traffic controllers can be found negligent if they fail to communicate with the pilot or do their part in minimizing risk. Their role is critical, especially in the case of small private planes. Since many lack advanced instruments, pilots rely on air traffic controllers to monitor current conditions.
The number of bird strikes with an aircraft is approximately 16,000 per year in the US. The majority of the cases result in little to no damage to the aircraft.
While the chances of a bird strike causing a significant accident are slim, it has happened. In 2009, a flock of Canada geese flew into US Airways flight 1549, causing both its engines to fail. The pilots safely glided the plane into the Hudson River with only five serious injuries and no deaths. This incident went on to be known as “The Miracle on the Hudson.”
Sabotage is any incident involving the deliberate takedown of a plane. These can include cases of airliner bombings, hijacking, or shootdown incidents. An example would be the infamous September 11 attacks, where terrorists hijacked four U.S. passenger aircrafts, crashing them into various targets.
While insufficient fuel causing an airplane crash is a rare occurrence, it does and has happened. Pilot inexperience or error in the fueling process can result in this type of crash.
What to Do After an Airplane Accident
The moments right after a plane accident can be disorienting and stressful for anyone. However, understanding some of your basic rights will be beneficial in your compensation process. Here are some factors you should consider right after a plane crash.
Seek Medical Attention
Needless to say, you should seek medical attention right after a plane crash. Even if the crash was minor, it’s still a good idea to visit a doctor. Waiting to receive medical treatment can cause a minor injury to get progressively worse. In addition, making claims can be more difficult since the insurance company may argue the injury was unrelated to the accident.
Dealing with Insurance Companies
Making a claim with the airline or other negligent parties’ insurance company can be complex. They are not in the business of giving up money so easily. Commercial airlines typically have large insurance companies with a full legal team backing them up.
After an accident, they may attempt to settle directly with the victims. However, the settlement may be much lower than what they deserve. Therefore, it is in the victim’s best interest to have a plane crash lawyer deal with the insurance companies instead.
Know Your Rights
In an aviation accident, a victim has the right to pursue legal action for their damages due to acts of negligence. Plane crashes are more complex due to the number of parties that are potentially involved.
Potential liable parties can include:
- Airline company
- Air traffic controllers
- Airplane/parts manufacturer
- Maintenance company
- Other passengers
It could also be the case that a combination of the above parties is found negligent in the accident. The aviation industry is highly regulated with many safety protocols. Therefore, an incident on the magnitude of a plane crash would likely have been caused by multiple parties’ negligence.
How an Airplane Accident Lawyer Can Help
While airplane crashes are rare, they can cause significant damages resulting in long-lasting consequences. Getting the compensation and help you deserve should be a priority. Here are some ways an aviation accident attorney can help your case:
- Determining liability: As mentioned, determining who is liable is not always clear-cut. Multiple parties could potentially be involved in a plane crash. A lawyer will help parse out the different parties who could be responsible. They’ll interview experts like engineers, specialists, or aviation authorities to determine the underlying cause of the crash.
- Determining the value of your damages: An airplane accident lawyer can help assess the value of your damages. They’ll account for economic damages, such as medical bills or loss of wages. But, they’ll also factor in non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Your lawyer will know if the insurance company’s offer is too low and negotiate accordingly.
- Meeting time limitations: In most cases, there are time limits for filing a claim after an aircraft accident. A lawyer will ensure you meet any filing deadlines.
- Determining applicable laws: Laws differ in various states and jurisdictions. Which laws will apply in an airplane crash—the departure state, the destination state, or the state where the crash occurred? Moreover, what if the victim’s primary residence is in an entirely different state? A lawyer will carefully consider all the factors to determine which laws are applicable and which state to best file suit.
Valiente Mott – Personal Injury Firm
If you’ve sustained injuries in an airplane accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Our legal team will assess and provide you expert legal counsel for your case.
Valiente Mott are experienced injury attorneys in Las Vegas and can helps personal injury victims seek the compensation they deserve through compassionate yet assertive representation.
Contact us for a free consultation!
Valiente Mott is a law firm dedicated to helping personal injury victims. We handle all personal injury matters, including, but not limited to, car crashes, defective products, and catastrophic injury. We are compassionate, yet aggressive when protecting personal injury victims and families who lost loved ones in fatal accidents. Learn more about who we are.
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