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Just last year, airlines set another record by flying nearly 4.5 billion passengers on nearly 45 million flights worldwide. Although air travel is generally considered as the best and safest form of transportation, there can still be safety concerns. In fact, according to this Forbes article, aviation accidents increased by more than 900% in 2018. It is important to note that it is not just commercial carriers that are affected. Private plane crashes are just as common and can, in many ways, be more deadly than commercial airplane crashes.

If you have a loved one that died in an aviation accident or if you sustained injury in a crash, you have the right to compensation. Our aviation accident attorneys at Oshan and Associates have the skills and experience to see that you obtain the compensation you deserve. This article explains just what you need to know about aviation accidents and how you can assert your rights when they occur.

How Serious Are Aviation Accident Injuries?

The nature of aviation glitches can be very devastating. If not resulting in death, the crash itself can cause serious injuries to the passengers and crew members, as well as damage to your property. Often, passengers may suffer neck or head injuries, broken limbs, internal bleeding, or damage to internal organs. But this is not all. Loss of cabin pressure or a fire can cause severe burns or respiratory injuries. Heart attacks, strokes, and similar medical problems may also arise as a result of aviation accidents.

The Causes of Airline Crashes

It may be a surprise that aviation accidents occur at all. When one considers the amount of care and preparation that goes into making a single journey, it seems accidents should never occur. Unfortunately, they do happen, and often too. Here are a few of the causes:

Pilot Error

Pilot error involves action or inaction by the pilot of an aircraft that causes or contributes to an aviation accident or incident. It is the most common cause of aviation accidents. According to the New York Post, 53 percent of aviation accidents are caused by the actions of the pilot. Apart from errors occurring during the flight or whilst taxiing on the runway, pilot errors can occur during maintenance work, while fueling, or loading the aircraft. A few of the common instances of Pilot Error includes the following:

  • Making use of aircraft equipment incorrectly.
  • Making navigational errors.
  • Having incorrect communications with the air traffic control.
  • Errors made in the monitoring of speed, altitude and other flight parameters.
  • Failing to follow due procedures with regards to safety checklists.

Even though these aviation errors are most likely made unintentionally, it still doesn’t exempt the pilot (or the airline) from liability arising from negligence.

Air Traffic Controller Negligence

Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) are expected to monitor and control the flow of air traffic coming in and going out of airports. However, errors may occur while planes are taking off, in flight or landing. Errors could occur because the air traffic controller is fatigued or was working under the influence of substances. Sometimes, it involves directing too many aircraft to a runway or misinterpretation of radar.

Negligence of Airport and Airline Ground Crews

Aviation accidents do happen on runways too when ground crews fail in their duty to clear the runway of objects that may cause damage to the plane. This may cause the plane to careen off course and crash into fixed objects such as buildings. When this negligence happens, the ground crew in charge of directing planes in and out of airport terminal areas can be held liable for any damage or injury to passengers.

Defective Equipment

An aviation mishap could also be caused by just one little defect in the equipment. Errors in aircraft design, manufacturing or maintenance can wreak serious havoc. Take the recent crash of the Boeing 737 MAX which led to the death of 157 people on board. In the findings of the BBC, the crash was due to a software glitch in the aircraft. If an aviation accident or incident occurs due to faulty equipment, the aircraft designer or manufacturer could be held liable for the accident. Those responsible for the maintenance of the aircraft may also be held accountable for such negligence.

Violation of FAA Regulations

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the US agency that regulates civil aviation. There have been instances where aviation accidents occurred because the pilot, air traffic controller or someone else was in violation of FAA rules and regulations. When this happens, the person or body found to have violated the FAA regulations can be held accountable. They will be held responsible for any injuries, death or other damage suffered by the victims or their survivors.

Airplane Turbulence

Aviation mishaps due to ‘turbulence’ or bad weather is perhaps the most common cause accidents. One minute, things may be going smoothly, the next, turbulence happens as a result of changes in altitude, wind direction or intensity. This may cause passengers to be tossed from their seats and result in mild to serious injuries. FAA regulations require aircrafts to keep their passengers safe. Generally, turbulence is considered an ‘Act of God’ and no one’s fault. However, if an employee contributes to your injury, you may be able to claim compensation from the airline.

What Happens Next After Being Involved in an Aviation Accident?

As a victim of a plane crash, you can secure economic damages as well as non-economic damages, like compensation for pain and suffering. Airplane crashes or aviation glitches can also cause the destruction or loss of baggage or personal possessions. The good thing to note is that the law recognizes damage to property as a form of injury too, and you can file a claim for compensation.

What If It Results in The Death of a Loved One?

Surviving family members of airplane crash victims also have to endure unquantified suffering of their own. If a loved one has been lost, one would have to wait for investigations to be concluded as to the cause of the crash. A wrongful death action can be brought against the liable person(s) by the survivor of the victim. This action may cover compensation for loss of support, funeral costs, and even any emotional distress.

Who Can Be Sued?

The cause of the aviation accident or incident will no doubt determine who will bear the brunt of the liability for the injury caused. If it is due to faulty equipment, the product manufacturer could face liability for damages. If it is due to negligence, the pilot or other persons will be held responsible. Usually, liability also falls on the employer of the pilot or the air travel agency. When the aviation mishap is caused by an Air Traffic Control error, then your claim will fall under the Federal Tort Claims Act. This means you will be the holding the federal government, the federal government agency, or the employee of such an agency responsible for your loss. Your aviation accident attorney will advise you on the best individual or entity to sue.

Getting the Help You Need

If you or your loved have been involved in an aviation accident, you have the right to fight for compensation. The journey to obtaining compensation can however be difficult. This would especially be the case as you are essentially pitching battle against massive corporations. What you need in order to come up trumps is a skilled and experienced aviation attorney sympathetic to your cause. At Oshan and Associates, we will do everything we can to secure the outcome you desire. Call Oshan and Associates at 206-355-3880 or fill out our online contact form as soon as possible after your aviation accident to get the best legal representation.