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Accidents :: Aviation Accidents

AVIATION ACCIDENTS - A Qualified and Experienced Aviation Accident Attorney is Essential.

The practice of aviation accident law is complex and involves multiple substantive areas of the law combined with multiple jurisdictions, all which may significantly impact a plaintiff’s successful recovery as well as the amount recovered. 

Under the International Civil Aviation Organization Annex Section 13, an aviation accident is defined as: an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight and all such persons have disembarked, in which a) a person is fatally or seriously injured; b) the aircraft sustains damage or structural failure; or c) the aircraft is missing or is completely inaccessible. Annex Section 13 also defines an aviation incident as: an occurrence other than an accident, associated with the operation of an aircraft, which affects or could affect the safety of operations.

Aviation law encompasses aviation accidents or incidents that occur in both major commercial air carriers and general aviation accidents such as private planes, business jets, and helicopters. Studies have revealed that the most common causes for aviation accidents and incidents are: pilot error, mechanical failure, weather, negligence of third parties and violations of aviation laws and any combination of all of the foregoing. 

In a single accident, one plaintiff may be suing an airline carrier, a local private carrier, a pilot, a mechanic, a manufacturing company, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). In that action, the airline may be based in Europe, the local air carrier may be based in Atlanta, Georgia, the pilot may be from Pennsylvania, the mechanic may be from Maine, the manufacturing company may be from Japan, but the product was assembled in China, and then there is the Federal government.

In addition to the complex interaction of the potential causes of accidents/incidents, the multiple areas of law and multiple jurisdictions, aviation litigation encompasses several possible theories of liability under State, Federal and International law. Generally speaking, however, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant or defendants were negligent where they failed to meet an industry standard related to the performance of a respective duty, were reckless or careless, were vicariously liable, were strictly liable, violated Federal law or even International law. 

In addition to proving liability, the plaintiff may be required to prove percentage of liability as between multiple liable defendants. Regardless, a plaintiff must prove damages. The types of damages recoverable by a plaintiff include past and future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium and punitive damages. All or some of the aforementioned damages may be limited or capped in some jurisdictions.

Because of the complexities of aviation litigation, the plaintiff’s jurisdiction choice and choice of law is outcome determinative. Therefore, representation by an attorney and law firm who is experienced in this specialty is imperative. 

Keywords: Plane Crash Lawyers | Airplane Crash | Aircraft Crash | Wrongful Death | Helicopter Accidents
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