AVIATION ACCIDENT AND AIRPLANE CRASH ATTORNEYS
In case you are not aware, commercial aviation accidents are one of the most high-profile and tragic disasters. A plane crash, as we commonly call it, is a high-profile kind of tragedy because it can incur so many deaths and accidents in a single circumstance.
Recent plane crash incidents in Greece and Venezuela remind us of the danger that lurks in an air travel.
On August 16, 2005, the plane crash over a remote location in Venezuela caused the death of more than 150 passengers and 8 crew members. The accident was known to have been caused by mechanical problems in both engines but these were found out after the pilots got aboard the plane. Two days prior the accident, a Greek airline also crashed due to technical problems. It killed more than 100 passengers, more than 40 of whom are children.
On September 13, 2010, Conviasa ATR-42 crashed near Guyana site in Venezuela because of maintenance failures. It left 15 people dead and 34 injured passengers.
When an aviation accident happens, lawsuits against negligence of whoever is responsible usually arise. Court cases involving plane crash is often complicated and high-profile. You need to have the best lawyers for cases like this.
Aviation Accident Defined
In a stricter sense of the word, aviation accident as defined by the Convention of International Civil Aviation Annex 13 is an incident involving the operation of an aircraft where a person becomes seriously injured, the aircraft incurred damage or structural failure or the aircraft becomes missing or inaccessible. This takes place between the time any passenger or crew member boards the plane with the intention to fly until all passengers and crew members have disembarked. In addition, aviation incident is an occurrence involving the aircraft operations that could affect the safety of the entire operation.
Major Causes of Aviation Accident
Aircraft accidents can be caused by several factors, although the very first consideration is to examine if it was a pilot error. Other factors of aviation accidents are:
- Defect in aircraft manufacture
- Failure to adequately and regularly maintain the aircraft for possible repairs
- Failure of the aircraft’s component parts
- Extreme weather conditions
In the last 50 years, it has been recorded that pilot error is the biggest cause of most major airline accidents. Mechanical failure comes next.
Filing Claims from an Aviation Accident
In an airplane crash that does not involve the airline or a common commercial airplane, the regulations are usually patterned after that of a car accident. Unlike commercial planes which are regarded with higher standard of care, operators and owners of private aircraft may exercise ordinary care in flying their planes.
If a plane crash involves a commercial carrier, the right to damage claims will depend on whether the flight is domestic or international. Two agreements, the Warsaw Convention and the Montreal Protocol, cover international flights and some domestic parts of these flights. As stipulated in these international agreements, the airline is held strictly responsible for damages and injuries incurred by passengers.
What does that mean? It means that passengers aboard the international flights and domestic parts of those flights do not need to prove negligence of the airline to be compensated for damages during an aviation accident. However, these international agreements limit damage claims per passenger unless the victim can prove “willful misconduct”. A personal injury lawyer should be able to explain the conditions of aviation accident in the context of these agreements.
Due to the limit on the amount of liability claims imposed by both Warsaw Convention and Montreal Protocol, victims or those filing the case on behalf of the victims may show evidence that an accident happened because of “willful misconduct” by the airline. Once proven right, the limits in the agreement will become inapplicable.
One such example is the case of the bombing of a Pan American flight in Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 where the US federal court ordered that the limit is not applicable because the failure of the airline to conform to anti-terrorist security procedures is found to be a “willful misconduct.”
Taking Legal Course of Action
Lawsuits that involve strict liability may be very difficult to prove negligence on the part of the airline employees, the aircraft manufacturer, the maintenance crew and its component parts because the records and cause of the crash may possibly be inconclusive. Your lawyer or the law firm you hired must be able to assist you in proving negligence by conductive a comprehensive review and investigation of all possible angles in the accident.
If a victim can prove negligence and thus a basis for a lawsuit may be possible, other complex issues must be taken into consideration and prepared. These may be the following:
- Choosing whether to use federal or state law
- Deciding the best forum for the trial
- Deciding if lawsuits must be filed individually or as a group of affected passengers
- Deciding who must be sued (the operator or the pilot, the aircraft manufacturer, the airport operator, component parts manufacturer, corporate officers)
- Choosing the best option for recovery (strict liability, breach of warranty, negligence, statutory provisions)
- Deciding on the best method for proving liabilities
- Preserving evidences of the crash
In all cases of airplane crash, your attorney must take prompt measures to preserve evidences of the crash, conduct thorough investigation and contact physicians and other medical professionals to evaluate any incurred injuries by the victims.
Although airplane crashes are not as common as road accidents, it is important that we must know some basic knowledge about liability or damage claims and how to take on the case so that we may have a good background of filing cases for accidents like this. But there is no need to worry if you seem to find yourself in the middle of nowhere, just make sure to get a reliable attorney to guide you on what to do and how to be compensated. These seasoned personal injury lawyers know their thing and can readily assist you with your needs.
The table below demonstrates the causes of major airline disasters for the last 50 years.
|Pilot Error (weather related)
|Pilot Error (mechanical related)
|Total Pilot Error
|Other Human Error