Category Archives: Aviation Accidents

Injuries Caused By Aircraft Turbulence

Air TurbulenceWhile it is extremely uncommon, some injuries do occur when people are inside an aircraft. They can be caused by falling baggage, carts, flight attendant negligence, other passengers or turbulence. Injuries can be very overwhelming, since they are not common events. Once someone is hurt, there should be no question about whether they have the right to file a suit.

Common Carriers And Their Duty Of Care

According to the legal definition, an airline is considered a common carrier. This term refers to public transportation that requires the passenger to pay for services. While it is respected that they have the right to profit, the law requires these carriers to offer a high standard of care. This means that they are liable for almost everything that happens inside the aircraft.

This is known as duty of care principle, and it refers to the fact that the airline is responsible for providing passengers with the safest possible environment. If someone is injured due to a poor level of care, the carrier is liable.

In order to provide the proper duty of care, the airline is required to do all of the following:

  • The pilot must be informed of any incidences in the plane so they can be addressed as quickly as possible.
  • The pilot must know the route the plane is flying and the type of weather that will be present along the way.
  • Staff of the plane must alert passengers of the plane’s status, especially when turbulence is involved.
  • Flight attendants must check on passengers regularly and solve any small issues before they have the chance to escalate.
  • Air traffic control must be in constant contact with the plane in order to ensure that everything is safe.
  • Ground staff must inspect every part of the place, including the wings, rudder and engine, to make sure that they are in good shape.

Below is a video showing turbulence onboard an AA flight:

Turbulence

Turbulence is a movement of air that is characterized by the plane moving in a different pattern than normal and a change in altitude. It varies when it comes to the intensity and the effect that it has on the plane.

Turbulence can be extremely frightening, especially when it causes so much damage that it leads to a plane crash. During the most common instances, things are minor and the outcome is usually fallen bags and passenger injuries. There is a chance that heavy baggage can result in traumatic brain injuries in extreme cases.

It is not very easy to claim that you have damages from turbulence due to the following:

  • Since turbulence is caused by the movement of air, it is invisible and cannot be predicted.
  • While clouds are an indicator of turbulence in some cases, it is possible to experience this phenomenon with no clouds present.
  • It cannot be detected by a radar.
    The higher the altitude is, the more frequent turbulence can be.

Whether you are successful or not when suing an airline over an in-flight injury depends on whether or not they have met their duty of care and how unpredictable natural events like turbulence are.

Questions And Answers Following Involvement In A Plane Crash

Airline Departures and ArrivalsMany of us never expect for our flight to go down and we never bother to read the fine print of what is actually required of an airline if an accident were to occur. In 2013, Asana Airline Flight 214 went down taking the lives of two of her passengers and injuring more than half of the 307 crew and passengers. After this crash, it raised many questions about what rights do passengers actually have after an aircraft crash. Legal experts have determined that they have several.

Question – After a plane crashes, what is the airline required to provide for passengers?

Answer – All international flights are ruled over by the Montreal Convention. This international air carrier treaty was adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization in 1999. In the event that an airline is found at fault for an accident, the Montreal Convention states that the airline is liable for 113,100 special drawing rights. While this value does change often, it can be equaled to about $170,000 per person in the United States.

Throughout the past 90 years, there have been various treaties and laws placed on victims as to what they can actually recover after the devastating effects of a crash. As of right now there is no limit of recovery against an airline unless it has the ability to prove that they took all the proper precautions to prevent an accident. This process was put into effect to make it easier for passengers and victims to recover after the devastating effects of an air crash. All of the burden has been placed on the airlines to allow time for the passengers and family to fully recover. With the case of the Asana flight, the passengers that were involved in that crash would have the ability to sue the airline. It would be determined that these passengers have the right to fair and just compensation.

Question: Who do passengers actually sue?

Answer – The Montreal Convention has stated that a carrier is liable for damages. However, the blame can be shifted to other issues.

According to Steve Dedmon, associate professor of Aeronautical Science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, states that other entities can be named in a suit if they had been involved in the manufacturing process of the aircraft. For example, if the craft has been proven to be negligently designed or manufactured, the manufacturer can be named into the lawsuit. All it takes is to look at the many components of an aircraft to understand the many manufacturers.

Even with this in mind an airline will not be able to abdicate from its responsibility. This may mean there may be additional defendants such as part manufacturers involved.

Question – What is required of a passenger to get compensated?

Answer
– A United States federal law does not allow law firms to contact victims from a plane crash to be contacted for a period of 45 days. However, a victim is allowed to contact an attorney whenever they feel the need to.

Question
– Do passengers have to file a lawsuit on their own or be involved in a class action lawsuit?

Answer – Considering that passengers are located all across the country or world, the case would typically end up as an MDL or multi-district litigation. If there are pending cases in many different federal courts, a panel on MDL would decide if they should be consolidated into one case.

Steps To Take After An Aviation Accident

Air CrashAir travel is still a safe form of transport. Plane crashes might be rare but they happen every once in a while. If such a catastrophe occurs, the federal government immediately offers support to the families of the survivors and victims of the accidents.

Depending on the cause of the crash, the families can take legal action against the airline, the manufacturers of airplane parts and other involved parties. If the accident happens in a smaller airplane, the survivor or victim’s family can take claims against the involved parties.

Before any legal action is taken, the most important thing is to determine the cause of the crash or any near-crash that might cause injuries to the passengers aboard the plane. In most cases, plane crashes are caused by pilot error, errors made by the air traffic controllers, defective equipment, structural/design problems of the plane, fuel problems, faulty maintenance or poor repair of the airplane.

In most cases, one or more of the above factors can contribute to the accident. Therefore, determining the exact cause of the problem can be very difficult and that’s why it lies in the purview of several federal agencies. Therefore, if you’re involved in an aviation accident, you should ask your attorney to investigate the agencies responding to the crash and verify the accuracy of their findings before proceeding to court.

Remember, the type of legal action you choose to pursue will largely depend on the main cause of the accident. Some of the categories your legal action might fall into include the following:

1. Negligence

If the cause of the crash is determined to be due to human error especially on the pilot’s part, you can pursue a negligence claim. Here, you can pursue legal action on the premise that your loved one was killed or injured because of the pilot’s carelessness, the air traffic controller’s mistakes, the poor maintenance offered by the mechanic or any other involved party.

In a negligence suit, you need to provide evidence that supports that the individual responsible for the crash was directly responsible for the death or injury suffered by your loved one. For instance, you can pursue a negligence claim if you have evidence that a particular mechanic was aware of a particular problem but cleared the plane anyway.

2. Federal Torts Claim

If the cause of the accident lies on a federal employee like an air traffic controller, your claim will fall under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Here, you will find rules and regulations that should be followed when a federal employee is involved in any legal action. Before pursuing such a case, you should discuss the matter with your attorney in detail.

3. Product Liability Claim

If the cause of the plane crash is identified to be defective equipment, structural problems or faulty design issues, you should pursue a product liability claim against the manufacturers and distributors of the faulty airplane parts. In such a case, the strict liability rule is applied. Here, you don’t have to prove negligence on the part of the manufacturer, rather you need to provide evidence that the defective product led to the accident.

Seeking Federal Assistance

There is an Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act in place for any aviation accidents. Here, the federal government should provide any support necessary to the families of survivors or victims of any aviation accidents. The Act also places a few duties on the airline involved and limits attorneys from soliciting any victims of airplane crashes.

Pursuant to the Act, the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) has the right to designate an NGO to co-ordinate any support services to the families of the survivors and victims. These services are varied in nature and include counseling as well as mental health support services. Also, the nonprofit organization will provide the families a place to grieve without constantly being disrupted by attorneys or the press. Other services include identification of victims, communications with foreign governments, forensic services and also translation services.

The Act also demands that the airline involved should provide a toll-free phone line for all family members of the victims or survivors, identify all the passengers aboard the flight when the accident happened, inform families of the passengers before the list goes public, inform family members of the death of their loved ones and also assist the families in traveling to the scene of the accident.

Since aviation accidents are very complicated, you need to consult a local attorney with enough experience in these types of claims. With such an attorney by your side, you can recover the whole amount you’re owed.