While aviation is generally considered safer than ever, there can be severe consequences when something goes wrong. Even a “minor” in-flight accident involving falling luggage or a loose service cart can cause life-changing injuries.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in an aviation accident, our Nix Patterson aviation accident lawyers can help today.
The chances of being in an aviation accident are low, but the number of injuries and fatalities from just one incident can be considerable. The most common causes of plane crashes are:
Airline companies use technology to reduce the risks of flying, but whether the plane takes off, flies, and lands safely comes down to the pilot at the controls. Unfortunately, even the smallest error in handling vital piloting tasks can lead to an accident. Even the best-trained and experienced pilots are known to make mistakes that can cause a plane to have an issue or even crash.
Mechanical issues are the #2 cause of plane accidents, accounting for about 20% of all incidents. Mechanical errors can happen because of a product design flaw or because a part was improperly installed or maintained.
Bad weather causes about 12% of all plane crashes. Pilots closely monitor the weather to avoid severe conditions, but sometimes weather patterns develop suddenly. For example, lightning strikes are especially hazardous for airplanes, possibly causing fires and electrical failures. Outside forces, such as birds, heavy ice, and rain, also are known causes of crashes.
Air traffic controllers must control large numbers of aircraft and ensure they all maintain the correct distance from one another. Controllers could be managing dozens of aircraft and required to make almost instant decisions regarding their positions and movements. Just one small mistake can cause a deadly plane crash.
Commercial aviation is one of the safest forms of transportation; the National Safety Council (NSC) reported recently that the lifetime odds in 2021 of dying in an aviation accident in the U.S. were too small to calculate.
Also, major airlines had no onboard fatalities in 2021 and had a fatal accident rate of 0.0 per 100,000 flight hours. General aviation had 341 onboard fatalities and a fatal accident rate of .951 per 100,000 flight hours in the same period. While aviation accidents are relatively rare, the ones that happen usually cause severe and fatal injuries.
If an aviation accident causes injury or death, the injured party may receive compensation for medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. If you lose a loved one in an aviation accident, you could receive compensation for:
However, if a demand for compensation exceeds that allowed under the Montreal Convention treaty, the airline or other entity can contest it. If it is proven that the damages caused by the aviation accident were not because of negligence or a wrongful act, the airline might not have to pay more. In that case, it must be shown that the damages were caused entirely by a third party’s negligence or wrongful act.
Also, most major airlines have signed the International Air Transport Association (IATA) agreement that provides a minimum payment to each deceased passenger’s family of approximately $140,000, but this amount changes over time.
Unfortunately, some aviation accidents have no survivors, but an air accident investigation by the FAA and other government bodies can often determine the cause. In addition, all U.S. airlines and most small aircraft have flight data and cockpit voice recorders that provide critical information for many aviation accidents.
Some airplane crashes occur where it is difficult to determine the exact cause. If so, the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur comes into play for plaintiffs. Res ipsa loquitur can make a case that is impossible to prove, provable. If the conditions below are met, there could be a presumption of negligence in the aviation accident:
So, in most aviation accident lawsuits filed other than by a pilot, negligence will be presumed if the aircraft crashes.
After an aviation accident, you may wonder if you should talk to the airline or its insurance company about a settlement. These companies have skilled insurance adjusters and other professionals representing their interests after an aviation crash. Many think avoiding a lawsuit is best, but you could get less money than you should.
This is where a skilled aviation accident lawyer with extensive trial and settlement experience can make a large difference in the bottom line. If you are contacted by the airline or insurance company after an aviation accident, it is advised to politely decline to speak to them and refer them to your attorney. Aviation accidents are always complex, and many parties could be involved. There are almost always complicated questions about the cause and liability, so it is best to leave the case in your lawyer’s hands.
If you sue for wrongful death, filing in the victim’s home state is the most common. That is especially true if the flight originated from that state or was where it was intended to land. However, your attorney may prefer filing the claim in the state where the aircraft crashed or where the airline has its headquarters.
If you or a loved one was hurt in an aviation accident, you don’t have to go through your recovery alone. The aviation accident lawyers at Nix Patterson can help you navigate the legal complexities and move on with your life. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation.
Nix Patterson only works on a contingency fee basis. Our clients pay us nothing unless we win. Schedule a free consultation today. Call 512.328.5333 or complete the form below.
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