More than half of the world’s 2019 fatal plane crashes occurred in North America.
You may never have considered what to do after an aviation accident. But while aviation accidents may seem rare, they still pose a threat to passengers.
These accidents carry a greater likelihood of serious injury or death. Therefore, victims of an airplane accident are entitled to compensation in regards to mental, emotional, and physical damages sustained.
However, many airlines limit the amount they can be sued for in these situations. Most cap the amount at $75,000 following a crash or other injury.
But with the help of a trusted aviation accident attorney, you may be able to recover higher compensation through a personal injury suit. With their skills and experience, the court may find the airline, manufacturer, or other parties negligent.
This would then pave the way for a higher compensation award. But, this process is not always black-and-white. It requires a trusted professional who is well-versed in this area of law.
Hiring an experienced aviation accident attorney, in addition to other steps, can make-or-break your case. For more information on what to do after an aviation accident, keep reading.
What to Do After an Aviation Accident
Plane crashes are more common than you may think. Some common causes for these accidents include:
- Human piloting error
- Equipment malfunctions
- Bad weather conditions
- Air traffic control negligence
- Flaws in judgment
- Programming defects
- Faulty maintenance or repair
- Hazardous cargo
- Fuel exhaustion
- Engine or structural failure
- Confusion of avionics equipment
- Landing/takeoff issues
While many factors can contribute to the cause of the crash, the most commonly-cited cause is human piloting error. This is the reason behind nearly half of plane crashes. Other major issues include mechanical issues and weather.
If you are involved in an aviation accident, there are important steps to take to ensure your health and safety.
First and foremost, you should seek medical attention for any injuries sustained in the crash. Try your best to help other passengers that may be injured, or to seek the attention of emergency response resources.
If you feel well enough to do so, you should try to take pictures of the crash and any injuries associated with the accident. If possible, try to collect contact information for witnesses or other victims of the crash, as well.
Once your health and safety are secure, it’s important to begin thinking of the situation from a legal point of view.
Key Legal Considerations
The circumstances for each aviation accident will vary on a case-by-case basis. But generally speaking, they fall under a few main categories.
The first is negligence. This occurs when a party ignores, overlooks, or fails to respond appropriately to an incident. This means warning signs, safety checks, or other required duties were not properly adhered to.
The second is manufacturer liability. This occurs when the aircraft or parts manufacturer’s actions (or inactions) result in unsafe products. If this leads to injury, it can leave the manufacturer liable.
The third is operator liability. This is where actions (or inactions) on the part of the aircraft operator lead to the incident.
While other factors may be at play, determining the liable party will be the difference-maker in your case. Other important flight information will come from the appropriate governmental bodies.
Air travel and aviation accidents are regulated by two federal agencies.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sets safety standards for the aviation industry. This covers areas like pilot conduct, flight operations, and aircraft manufacturers. FAA policies are enforced through civil and criminal penalties.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigates civil aviation accidents.
Following each investigation, it produces NTSB aviation accident reports. The NTSB uses this information to recommend safety standards that hopefully prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
For example, a 2009 fatal airline crash killed 49 people on board, plus one more on the ground. An investigation after the crash determined fatigue and human error were to blame.
Though tragic, this incident helped instill new airline regulations. In response, the FAA instituted new rest and training regulations to prevent this same situation from recurring.
What to Do if You Are in a Plane Crash (From a Legal Perspective)
Aviation accidents are a unique area of law for many reasons. It’s true that air traffic is generally considered one of the safest methods for long-distance travel. But, when something does go wrong—the consequences can be extreme.
In addition to ensuring your health and safety following an aviation accident, there are important steps you should take to protect your rights and legal options.
One of the most important legal tips is to speak to an aviation accident attorney before speaking with the airline’s insurance company or legal team.
Remember that the airline, their lawyers, and their insurance company are looking to protect the interests of the corporation. Anything you say or do can be used against you in court down the line.
Even if they seem to offer legal advice or other benefits, they are doing so to avoid an even more-costly lawsuit. Do not assume any of their actions are to benefit your own circumstances.
Instead, it’s best to first consult with your own attorney.
Even if you do not plan to sue or file a claim with respect to the plane crash, it’s important to understand your rights. By speaking with your own accident attorney, you can be sure you are receiving the best legal advice for your own interests.
Contact an Aviation Accident Attorney
The goal of a lawsuit following a plane crash is to determine which party should be held liable for the accident. From there, they are pressed for compensation in response to injuries sustained.
Compensation can cover various areas associated with the crash, including:
- Medical bills
- Loss of income or support
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
- Funeral expense
But, this is not always cut-and-dry. There are so many factors involved—the actions of the pilot, the airline, the air traffic controller, and the manufacturer, just to name a few.
Proving liability is a challenge that requires an attorney well-versed in this area of law. With so much on the line, it’s imperative that you contact a trusted and experienced aviation accident attorney following a plane crash.
In addition to helping your case, this attorney may also be able to help you get in touch with other victims. In some cases, a class action lawsuit may be the best path ahead.
Aviation accident law covers a wide net of plane incidents from major air carriers to general aviation. These may include:
- Commercial planes
- Private planes
Really, almost any aviation vehicle that carries passengers can apply.
But, there are different regulations for private, military, and commercial planes. So be sure to locate an attorney with experience in the area of aviation law that applies to your particular circumstances.
Locating the Best Accident Attorney
While the need for a good aviation accident attorney is clear, locating the right choice is not always so obvious. There are plenty of personal injury attorneys out there.
However, you should carefully select your representation for an aviation accident case.
Your chosen attorney should come with a respected reputation, with a good case history of plane crash settlements. These settlements should include high compensation payments for victims and their families.
They must understand the elements for building a strong case of negligence on the airline’s part.
Since most airlines do cap the monetary amount of damages they will payout, your lawyer must take your case to the next level. They must effectively prove the airline’s negligence leading to the crash, to win out the highest award.
Furthermore, your attorney should be able to work with all parties involved in the situation. This includes:
- Plane manufacturer
- Parts manufacturers
- Commercial airline corporations
- Insurance companies
- Opposing counsel
Finally, this attorney should also work on a contingency fee basis. This means they will not request payment until after winning your case.
Consulting the Aviation Accident Experts in California
For aviation accident victims and families, you may be entitled to financial compensation. The best way to navigate your case and determine its suitability for recovering damages is to contact a trusted aviation accident attorney.
They will guide you throughout the process, navigating the complex legal and insurance situations to win out the highest compensation award, given your circumstances.
In California or Las Vegas, Heidari Law Group is your solution.
With years of experience battling these cases, we can help you understand what to do after an aviation accident. Plus, there are no fees until we win.
For a free consultation, contact us anytime.