Air 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:
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.