Aviation Accidents

posted on:
May 21, 2007

author:
Staff

What is involved in Aviation related claims?

Although some argue it is several times safer than driving on the highway, flying is an inherently dangerous way of traveling. Soaring through the sky hundreds of miles an hour, thousands of feet above the ground in an airplane or helicopter leaves little room for error.

One small mechanical problem, misjudgment, or faulty response in the air can spell disaster for air passengers and even unsuspecting people on the ground. This is why it’s crucial for the aviation industry, including manufacturers, pilots, mechanics, and air traffic controllers, to adhere to the highest possible standards at all times.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Decades of National Transportation Safety Board aviation crash investigations have found that the majority of crashes – from helicopters and private airplanes to large passenger jets — are actually preventable.

What are the causes of Aviation Accidents?

Mechanical Failure

By some estimates, mechanical failures cause up to 22 percent of aviation crashes. Historically, aircraft manufacturing defects, flawed aircraft design, inadequate warning systems, and inadequate instructions for safe use of the aircraft’s equipment or systems have contributed to numerous aviation crashes. In such cases, the pilot may follow every procedure correctly but still be unable to avert disaster.

Improper or Poor Maintenance

  • Aging aircraft sometimes develop flaws and deficiencies that aren’t easily detectable.
  • Commercial aircraft that fly internationally may be repaired, tuned up, and inspected by mechanics halfway around the world, sometimes not in accordance with FAA regulations.

Neglect

Often, simple neglect can have disastrous consequences, as was the case for Alaska Airlines Flight 261, which crashed into the Pacific Ocean in 2000, killing all 88 people aboard. Investigators ruled the probable cause of that crash to be a loss of control resulting from “Alaska Airline’s insufficient lubrication of the jackscrew assembly” on the plane’s horizontal stabilizer trim system.

Pilot Error

Aviation crash data shows that nearly half (49%) of all air crashes are caused by pilot error.

  • Most pilot errors, or “cockpit errors” as they are sometimes called, manifest as a pilot’s faulty response to either a mechanical problem or adverse weather conditions.
  • Inadequate training and failure to follow proper emergency procedures under duress are common underlying causes of pilot error.
  • Other types of pilot error may include unprofessional conduct, navigational mistakes (improper altitude, speed), miscommunication with air traffic controllers, improper management of fuel levels, and improper use of critical equipment, such as landing gear and the de-icing system.
  • And, although not true errors, pilot fatigue and loss of spatial awareness have been the documented cause of numerous crashes.

Evaluating Aviation Accident claims

Because flight safety depends on several complex, interconnected systems, encompassing pilot training and experience and ranging to mechanical maintenance and structural integrity of the aircraft, liability issues can be just as complex.

In the case of pilot error, for example, negligence, recklessness, and other misconduct can cause a pilot to face both civil and criminal charges.

A commercial pilot’s error is also the airline’s error under the “respondeat superior” law, which means that both pilots and their employers can be held liable for personal injury and wrongful death claims.

Pilots of private airplanes and the owners of private aircraft a can be held liable for damages under the “vicarious liability” legal theory.

If mechanical failure or other flaws played a role in an aviation crash, other parties, such as the manufacturers of the aircraft and / or its components, may be held liable under product liability and strict liability claims.

What can I do if I have been involved in an aviation accident?

In many cases, airlines and/or manufacturers of aircraft will contact the survivors of an aviation disaster, or their families. An insurance company representing an airline or a manufacturer may offer to settle your family’s claim very quickly.

An insurance company may also attempt to offer some type of “advance” to help with many of the costs faced by families as the result of a death or severe injury.

One should not accept any of these offers or sign anything without speaking to an attorney. In many instances, an insurance company will offer to settle your claims for an amount substantially less than you are entitled to. Therefore, it is important to be advised of all of your legal rights and the damages you may recover in an aviation disaster.

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury or death as the result of an aviation disaster, you may be entitled to compensation. For a free legal consultation, contact us today!

 

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