Texas has a habit of doing everything BIGGER than the rest of the country. In this case, we’re not talking about steaks, cowboy hats, or oil geysers—we’re talking about planes.
Granted, the planes themselves aren’t bigger, but the Lone Star State has one of the largest aviation systems in the nation. Southwest Airlines and Bell Helicopter are headquartered here. Raytheon relocated part of its business here. SpaceX tests its rockets here. Aeronautics is one of the biggest industries in Texas, and the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center—a significant hub of NASA—is located in Houston.
With a network of approximately 300 public airports, accidents are bound to happen.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was established to investigate all civil aviation accidents in the United States. In rare cases, the FBI or the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) will also play a role in determining the cause of the accident.
Unfortunately, figuring out what caused a plane, helicopter, or other aircraft to crash is often challenging and it can take months or even years to piece together the evidence.
The most common causes of aircraft accidents include:
Determining which party is liable for an aviation accident often requires extensive investigation. Potential liable parties include:
What legal claim is raised depends on the nature of the aviation accident. While the legal claims list below aren’t the only ones that may be raised, these are the most common:
Airlines and manufacturers can respond to lawsuits with typical personal injury or product liability defenses. However, manufacturers of smaller aircraft have an additional defense at their disposal.
The General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994 bars lawsuits against manufacturers of small, private airplanes if the accident involved an aircraft or part that has been in use for 18 years or more. The term “small aircraft” means fewer than 20 seats.
The victim of an aviation accident can be compensated for economic damages (medical expenses and lost wages) caused by the accident, as well as non-economic damages (pain and suffering).
In addition, an injured person might be able to recover punitive damages if the liable party’s actions were intentional or particularly outrageous. However, punitive damages may be limited or prohibited altogether depending on the nature of the plane crash. For example, when an international flight crashes, punitive damages are prohibited under the Montreal Convention.
Every airline that operates around the world must have a certain level of mandatory insurance coverage. These insurance companies will pay the damages awarded to victims in the case of an airplane accident.
Attorneys used to flock to airplane crash sites in an effort to get in contact with members of the victim’s family. Limits on attorney solicitation have been enforced by creating the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act of 1996. This effectively eliminated the surge of business cards, phone calls, and lawyers actually showing up to funerals in the early ‘90s.
The Act also did a number of other helpful things for the families of aviation accident victims. It required the federal government to support the families by placing duties on the airlines and the National Transportation Safety Board to provide the following:
The airline is also required to establish a toll-free telephone line for the families, providing a list of all passengers on the flight in question, informing families of the death of family members, assisting families with travel to/from the crash scene and offering room and board at the location of the accident.
A personal injury lawyer helps individuals who have sustained injuries in accidents to recover financial compensation. These funds are often needed to pay for medical treatment, make up for lost wages and provide compensation for injuries suffered. Sometimes a case that seems simple at first may become more complicated. In these cases, consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Read more