Air travel has become almost as common as traveling by train or bus. Sadly, airline crashes still happen despite the aviation industry's technological advances. Sometimes, they're due to faulty aircraft maintenance. Other times, they are due to negligence of air traffic control.
Crash victims typically suffer life-threatening injuries and need extensive medical care. They also incur tremendous medical expenses. The last thing they want to do is fight with the insurance company about their claim. This is where aviation lawyers can help.
Aviation accident law covers any accident involving an aircraft, whether a commercial passenger jet or a small, private plane. This branch of the law also covers other types of aircraft, such as helicopters, hang gliders, and drones.
Aviation accidents occur in several ways. Here, we discuss the most common types of airplane accidents. We also explain what to do if you or your loved one are injured or killed in an aviation crash.
Not All Aviation Cases Involve Airplane Crashes
Before we discuss the various types of aviation accident cases, it's important to note that not all cases involve aircraft accidents. In fact, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization, there are less than two commercial airline crashes for every million departures.
In 2021, there were fewer than 50 aviation disasters and only four fatal plane accidents. But that doesn't mean passengers don't suffer injuries every day.
If you are hurt while flying or while embarking or departing, an experienced lawyer may be able to get you damages. The following section will discuss the different types of aviation accidents and injuries.
Types of Aviation Accident Cases
Most aviation litigation concerns airplane and helicopter crashes. But many personal injury lawsuits result from other types of accidents. For example, some people suffer a slip and fall while at the airport. Others hurt themselves while boarding or leaving a flight.
Some of the more common aviation lawsuits involve the following:
- Severe turbulence
- Rough landing
- Emergency landings
- Actual crash
- Food poisoning
- Burn injuries
- Hit by luggage or airport equipment
Anybody injured on an aircraft or in an airport has a potential claim for damages. Your legal team must determine the nature and extent of your injuries. Your trial lawyers will also need to prove fault and demonstrate your losses.
General Aviation Accident Legal Issues
Most personal injury lawyers litigate aviation accidents under the general legal principles of negligence. Sometimes, courts treat these cases under product liability, wrongful death, and personal injury law.
For example, pilots must meet specific care standards when operating an aircraft. If they fail to meet these standards, the court may find them negligent and liable for passengers' injuries.
Are Aviation Lawsuits Governed by State or Federal Law?
Aviation accident lawsuits often pose problems regarding jurisdiction. When someone suffers an injury on a cross-country flight, it can be challenging to determine which state will have jurisdiction. Is it the state where the plane originated? Or is it the state in which the airline accident occurred?
Some states have their own aviation laws. But most flights cross state borders. When this happens, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules apply. Furthermore, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigates all aircraft accidents.
This is one reason most aviation accident victims retain an experienced airplane accident lawyer.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
If your family member dies in an aviation accident, you may have a claim for wrongful death. As long as your injury attorney can prove that their death was the result of an aviation accident, your family may receive damages.
Every personal injury case is different. There's no guarantee how much money you'll receive. It depends on several factors, including:
- Age of the victims
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Health of the victim before the accident
- Strength of the evidence
These cases become complicated rather quickly. So, you should contact someone who handles wrongful death cases.
Terms To Know
You should know several terms if you will pursue legal action against American Airlines, Boeing, or any other airline. Some helpful information includes:
Aviation: Of or relating to any vehicle or transportation that flies in the air
- Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): A federal agency that governs aviation safety and issues and regulates the airline industry
- National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB): An independent federal agency that investigates all aviation accidents, as well as severe accidents involving other modes of transportation, including railroads and boats, and significant highway accidents
- Common Carrier: A business or agency available to the public for transportation of persons, goods, or messages
- Wrongful Death: A death caused by the negligent, willful, or wrongful act or omission of another
What To Consider When Hiring an Aviation Accident Lawyer
Meeting with an attorney first is a good idea when considering filing a lawsuit. You want to ensure your case is worth pursuing before wasting time.
If you have suffered injuries or trauma from an aviation accident, immediately contact an aviation accident attorney to preserve your rights and explore your legal options.