Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Injured or Lost a Loved One in an Airplane Crash?
Consult a Plane Crash Attorney for Legal Advice
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that travel on private and commercial planes will double in the next two decades. As the number of air travelers increase, so do the number of aviation accidents.
Airplane accidents, though not as frequent as other vehicle accidents, tend to have high numbers of fatalities and severe injuries. Many airplane wrecks occur on the runway due to miscommunication with air traffic controllers, human errors, mechanical failures, failure to comply with FAA regulations, and pilot negligence. The high speeds at which airplanes travel make these errors and failures that much more dangerous.
Airplanes are complex machines, commercially designed to transport groups of people ranging from 20 to 900 passengers from one place to another in a much shorter duration than was previously possible. With the advent of this new technology, national and international travel became available to the public, but like any industry with commercial potential, accidents happen in both the private and commercial sector—and in the case of airplane accidents, the consequences to human life can be traumatic and costly.
What are the Statistics on Airplane Crashes?
As with any vehicle, crashes will occur. Attention to safety protocols and airplane maintenance can drastically reduce the rate and severity at which these crashes occur, but nevertheless there are some important statistics to keep in mind.
Let’s go over some important airplane-related crash statistics:
- In 2019, the number of deaths occurring as a result of commercial airplane crashes around the world decreased by more than half. According to To70—a well-known aviation consulting firm—out of 8 fatal accidents in 2019, 257 people died. This number was given in comparison to the statistics from 2018, which reflected 13 fatal accidents resulting in 534 deaths.
- Fatal commercial airplane accidents occurring in 2019 were reported to have fallen to just 1 out of every 5.58 million flights.
- Between 2017 and 2018, deaths attributed to airplane accidents took a surprising leap from just 59 to more than 500 in one year according to the airline consulting firm To70. This equates to a 900% increase in airplane accident fatality. However, considering this is still a strikingly low-number of fatalities for accidents in any transportation industry, the percentages of this statistic might be misleading, as airline fatalities do occur, but fortunately remain rare occurrences.
Who is Responsible for an Airplane Crash?
The litigation process for airplane accidents is complex, mostly due to the sheer number of parties and their individual interests involved, as well as the general severity of the damages.
Depending on the particular circumstances of the crash, there are several parties who may be involved in your particular case. This may include:
- The pilot. Airplane accidents may occur as a result of the pilot’s negligent behavior or poor decision-making skills. Like any transportation case, accidents may occur when the operator is incapacitated or not fully-functioning due to DUI or DWAI, violating traffic controls, falling asleep on the job, or allowing their attention to be diverted by distractions. Although pilots generally hold themselves and are held professionally to much higher safety standards than for other modes of transportation, human error always remains a possibility. Additionally, private pilots often have their own insurance to cover the damages in case of an airplane accident.
- The airline. From cutting corners, to a lack of care about their passengers, to gross negligence, airplane accidents may occur due to an airline’s oversights. These oversights could include anything from sending a broken or defective aircraft out, to not screening passengers adequately, to not ensuring their pilots and other employees receive sufficient training and maintain a high level of competency.
- The manufacturer of the aircraft. If the manufacturer of the aircraft itself knowingly or unknowingly allows for an aircraft to go into use with a defect or after an error in the manufacturing process, that manufacturer may be held liable for damages incurred as a result of an accident with the aircraft they produced.
- The aircraft maintenance provider. Aircraft must undergo thorough maintenance on a consistent and frequent basis. If the individual or provider responsible for checking and carrying out that maintenance fails to do so, and then that aircraft crashes, the individual or maintenance provider will be held liable for damages incurred, including passenger injury and/or death. Insufficient maintenance of an aircraft is one of the leading factors in airplane crashes.
- The government. Even the government itself may be liable for damages incurred in an airplane crash if the accident occurred as a result of negligence or lack of training/competency on the air-traffic controller’s part. As with any employer, the government is subject to take responsibility for the failings of its employees, so in the case of an air-traffic control error, the government is liable for that employee’s mistake and the potential ensuing damages.
- An airport operator. The airport operator is usually an organization responsible for the running of the airport itself, from customer experience to working the gateway through which passengers board the plane. If an airport operator or employee makes a mistake through intention or negligence which results in an airplane accident, the airport operator can be held liable for damages incurred.
- The owner of the aircraft. Private planes are generally owned by one person and carry smaller groups of people. However, if you or a loved one experience an injury/death as a result of an accident in a privately owned aircraft, the owner of that aircraft may be liable for damages. The owner of the aircraft is responsible for making sure their airplane is in a safe condition to fly.
- The manufacturer of key parts. Similar to how the manufacturer of the airplane can be held liable if defects or mistakes in the manufacturing process were overlooked, manufacturers responsible for making key parts of the aircraft or the machinery used in the aircraft maintenance process are also responsible for any damages incurred as a result of their parts not working properly. Whether through intentional negligence on their part or a gross oversight in the manufacturing process, if an airplane crashes as a result of their defective component, the manufacturer can again be held liable for all damages, including passenger injury/death.
Do You Have a Claim for an Airplane Crash?
Depending on the nature of you or your loved one’s injuries/death, your aviation accident attorney may identify possible claims for:
- Medical expenses. Injuries resulting from an airplane accident may include: blunt force trauma to the head; internal injury; burns; injuries to joints/muscles; limb fractures; open wounds; whiplash; neck or back trauma; spinal cord injury; and, in the worst case scenario, death.
- Lost wages (or impairment of earning capacity) as a result of hospital stay-time, or, for the loved one of an airplane crash victim, the necessity to temporarily or permanently extricate themselves from work in order to provide care.
- Life care expenses, such as life support or ongoing medical expenses for chronic injuries.
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Pain and suffering, for both emotional and physical distress.
- Loss of consortium (the services of a close family member) and loss of care and companionship
- Wrongful death.
- Funeral expenses.
If you were injured or a loved one was injured/killed in an airplane accident, you need an aviation accident attorney to look at your case. Injuries/death occurring as a result of an aviation accident qualifies as a personal injury case, which could mean no cost to you when seeking legal aid. Most personal injury attorneys work on contingency, which means if your attorney doesn’t win your case, you don’t have to pay any fees out of pocket. An experienced aviation accident attorney will understand the emotional and physical toll this accident took on your life, and will have the necessary skills to be aggressive in seeking the compensation you deserve.