IT'S MORE TO US, IT'S PERSONAL
When Tragedy Strikes at 30,000 Feet, Call an Aviation Accident Attorney:
Our Attorneys Will Fight for Your Compensation After an Aircraft Injury.
Air travel has become a common and integral part of modern transportation, much like the trains of yesterday. Every day, countless people board airplanes across the nation with the assumption that they'll arrive safely at their holiday or business destination, maybe with some minor turbulence. While flying is incredibly safe statistically - your odds of being in a plane accident are about 1 in 1.2 million - aviation accidents still occur. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), there are around 1,200 aviation accidents annually in the United States, and more than 1000 related hospitalizations.
After an aviation accident takes place, a thorough investigation process begins, headed by the NTSB. They look at anything that could have caused the accident, whether mechanical problems, negligence, weather, or pilot error. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) joins the effort as well, but with a different focus. While the NTSB determines likely causes, the FAA handles enforcement if safety regulations were broken due to negligence. This can mean fines, suspended licenses, revoked certificates, or other penalties. If mechanical failure was a possible cause of the accident, the aircraft or part maker will investigate as well. Because they want to avoid blame, their investigation may have limitations. Other potential defendants - like airlines and maintenance companies - usually perform internal reviews as well. Unfortunately, their primary aim is avoiding liability - not necessarily uncovering the truth. That's where we come in.
We realize that surviving a plane or helicopter crash can cause devastating injuries - leading to significant medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. We also know from experience that holding companies fully accountable improves public safety. For these reasons, it's crucial that you seek out an experienced aviation accident attorney soon after your accident. Our attorneys will launch an in-depth, independent investigation with aviation specialists to find the actual causes of the accident. In some cases, victims may recover punitive damages beyond compensation for losses. You can count on our aviation accident lawyers to guard your legal rights after an aviation accident while pursuing the compensation you deserve. Please contact our aviation accident attorneys today at 877-715-9300 for a free consultation to discuss your situation.
What Is An Aviation Accident?
An aviation accident is defined as any incident associated with aircraft operation in which a person suffers death or serious injury, or in which the aircraft sustains substantial damage. Essentially, any crash, collision, forced landing, in-flight failure, or other incident involving an airplane or helicopter that leads to catastrophic consequences meets the criteria of an aviation accident. Specific aviation accident scenarios include:
Airplane and helicopter crashes - complete loss of control leading to a crash and breakup into ground terrain, structures, or water. This can be due to icing, fuel exhaustion, system malfunctions, or pilot errors, and is often the most catastrophic type of aviation accident.
Cabin fire/smoke - occurrence of fires or smoke inside the aircraft's cabin. This is rare, but incredibly dangerous due to the contained space and can lead to death from severe burns or smoke inhalation.
Forced or emergency landings - the pilot is able to land the aircraft, but substantial damage still occurs due to excessive speed, improper descent angle, or hard surface impact. Can result in major occupant injuries.
Runway collisions - collision on the ground between two aircraft or between a plane and a ground vehicle. At high speeds these can be deadly.
Structural failures - damage or separation of airplane or helicopter parts - like wings, stabilizers, rotors, and engines - mid-flight. This type of accident is more commonly associated with helicopters due to the interplay of multiple mechanical parts and typically results in a rapid loss of control.
Hard landings - excessive vertical speed on landing, causing extensive frame and injury damage. More routine, but can be severe.
Turbulence injuries - occupants thrown about violently in extreme turbulence leading to wounds like head strikes or broken bones.
Mid-air collision - collision between two or more aircraft in flight. These accidents are most often deadly.
Cockpit depressurization - loss of cabin pressure inside the cockpit.
Regardless of the manner of your accident, our airplane accident lawyers are prepared to investigate the incident and protect your rights to compensation.
The Dangers of Increasing Automation
In recent decades, commercial airliners have increasingly adopted advanced automated systems to assist pilots by handling routine flying tasks. The intended purpose is to improve safety margins by reducing pilot workload and fatigue while leveraging precision flying abilities beyond human capabilities. However, this growing reliance on automation has also led to unintended consequences:
Reduced hands-on flying time for pilots translates into fewer opportunities to develop vital critical thinking and crisis response skills needed when unexpected situations arise. Pilots are progressively losing proficiency with essential manual flying maneuvers.
An over dependence on automation breeds complacency among flight crews and erodes the situational awareness and focus necessary to effectively monitor aircraft systems and promptly intervene if problems emerge.
Pilots are often ill-prepared to swiftly take direct control of aircraft and handle emergencies when automation fails or behaves unexpectedly, a phenomenon that led to the fatal crashes of two Boeing 737 Max airplanes.
Aircraft manufacturers frequently implement software enhancements and patching without sufficient notice, training, or regulatory oversight. Well intentioned updates can have unforeseen consequences, and cockpit crews may have inadequate familiarity with revised systems.
Types of Aviation Accidents
Aviation accidents can occur in various contexts and aircraft types, each with unique circumstances, challenges, and legal intricacies:
Helicopters serve a wide variety of functions, from efficiently transporting executives or sightseers, to providing air ambulance services in medical emergencies, to facilitating crew transports to offshore oil platforms. However, their exposed rotors, along with the demands of vertical takeoff and landing, predispose helicopters to higher risks than fixed-wing aircraft, especially when operating in adverse weather conditions.
Commercial Airplane Crashes
Large-scale accidents involving jets operated by commercial passenger airlines can result in catastrophic loss of life and extensive property damage. The complex legal landscape surrounding major airline crashes typically involves multiple potential defendants, including the airline carrier itself, aircraft and part manufacturers, maintenance providers, air traffic control agencies, pilots, and others. Navigating complex aviation regulations and jurisdictional considerations demands an experienced team of aviation accident attorneys.
Private Plane Crashes
Smaller private planes, as well as air taxi and commuter charters with fewer than 30 passengers, are governed by far less stringent safety regulations than major commercial airliners. As a result, their accident rates are substantially higher. Pilot inexperience and inadequate training is a leading cause of these frequent accidents, as is poor aircraft maintenance and a lack of some modern safety features found on larger commercial jets. The reduced redundancies and safeguards available to small planes also heighten risks to passengers should unexpected equipment failures occur.
Air Tour and Sightseeing Accidents
Aerial sightseeing tours via helicopter or airplane have become popular enhancements to vacation packages offered by tourist destinations worldwide. Unfortunately, minimal regulatory oversight, coupled with intense price competition encourages some operators to cut corners on safety and staff planes with inexperienced pilots ill-equipped to handle unpredictable conditions. Distracted air tour pilots concerned with ensuring passengers get optimal views can add to these dangers.
Air Ambulance Incidents
Responding rapidly to medical emergencies is a vital function for air ambulances or medical helicopters. However, their urgency and unique operating conditions - including landing at accident scenes and hospital helipads with tight clearances - can substantially escalate hazards. Fatigue from irregular schedules, a sense of urgency, and elevated risks when transporting critically ill patients requiring constant attention during flight have led to a doubled accident rate for medical helicopters and planes.
Understanding the root causes of aviation accidents is crucial in seeking accountability and preventing future tragedies. The most common causes include:
Pilot Error - whether due to loss of control, flying into terrain, or other factors, pilot error remains a leading cause of aviation accidents.
Mechanical Defects - equipment and component failures can have catastrophic consequences, emphasizing the importance of rigorous maintenance.
Air Traffic Controller Error - miscommunication or errors in air traffic control can lead to disastrous outcomes.
Weather Conditions - poor weather or turbulence can challenge even the most experienced pilots.
Human Error - from maintenance teams to flight crews, human error plays a significant role in many accidents.
Abnormal Runway Contact - incorrect runway interactions can lead to accidents during takeoff or landing.
Common Aviation Accident Injuries:
Due to the extreme forces involved in aviation accidents, accident victims frequently suffer severe, life-altering injuries. Some of the most common aviation-related injuries include:
Being violently jolted inside an aircraft can cause the brain to strike the interior of the skull, resulting in bleeding, swelling, and other trauma. Even mild concussions can have long-term impacts like memory problems, headaches, and increased epilepsy risk. More serious traumatic brain injuries lead to extensive permanent damage or death.
The spine is especially vulnerable to hyperextension and compression injuries during air accidents. Damage to the spinal cord can cause partial or total paralysis, loss of sensation, impaired bowel/bladder function, chronic pain, and other permanent consequences.
Fractures are among the most frequent injuries in aviation accidents. The arms and legs are most prone, but ribs, pelvis, facial bones, vertebrae, and other areas also frequently break. Serious compound or open fractures pierce the skin and raise infection risks.
Being thrown about violently in an airplane crash can tear, rupture, or lacerate internal organs. Heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, spleen, and intestines are all vulnerable. Massive internal bleeding is a major threat to life.
Post-crash fires are a serious hazard to passengers, causing serious third and fourth-degree burns. Chemical and electrical burns may also occur from contact with airplane fluids and live wiring. Burn scars, grafting, and contractions are common long-term results of an airplane accident.
Being involved in a near-death situation can inflict immense emotional trauma. Post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts are common after an aviation accident. Extensive counseling and therapy is often required to regain a normal life.
Being trapped in wreckage with jagged, twisted metal leads to severed limbs and extremities. Amputation may also be required for severe crush or degloving injuries. Prosthetics, attachments, and rehabilitation can help amputees regain function after an aviation accident.
Wettermark Keith's skilled aviation accident attorneys understand the complex medical issues plane crash victims often face. We work with top medical experts to prove the full extent of damages so that you or your loved ones can obtain fair compensation for injuries and necessary lifelong care.
Aviation Accident Law
Various state and federal laws apply when seeking compensation after an aviation accident. Key laws include:
State Negligence Laws - these laws establish liability when someone's negligent conduct causes injury or death to another. Negligence rules form the core legal basis for most injury and wrongful death claims stemming from aviation accidents.
State Wrongful Death Statutes - these statutes provide the right for family members to pursue compensation when negligence leads to a wrongful death. Damages may include funeral costs, loss of companionship, and lost financial support.
Federal Aviation Act - this act sets forth the duties and responsibilities of aircraft operators to ensure the highest level of care for passenger safety. Violations can help prove negligence.
Federal Regulations - the FAA's safety rules govern pilot training, aircraft maintenance, air traffic control protocols, manufacturing standards and more.
Aviation law in the U.S. balances the goal of compensating victims fairly when negligence occurs with protecting the industry from unreasonable claims. An experienced aviation attorney knows how to effectively maneuver within state and federal aviation laws to maximize your recovery.
Determining Liability for an Aircraft Injury
Pursuing legal action in the aftermath of an aircraft injury can be an uphill battle, especially when confronted with the vast resources and legal teams of airline companies. These cases rank among the most challenging to litigate, requiring an expert aviation accident lawyer with extensive knowledge of the industry's laws and regulations. In the event you or a loved one has sustained injuries from an aviation accident, you may have grounds to initiate a legal claim against the responsible parties. While the specific circumstances surrounding your case will determine your course of action, the following entities may be held liable or legally responsible for your injuries:
Pilot or Operator of the Aircraft - the individual responsible for piloting or operating the aircraft may bear liability if their actions, inaction, or poor decisions contributed to the accident.
Owner of the Aircraft - in cases where the aircraft is privately owned - or owned by an airline - the owner or airline could potentially be held accountable for negligence or improper maintenance.
Manufacturer of the Aircraft - aircraft manufacturers may face legal responsibility if design flaws, manufacturing defects, or faulty components played a role in the accident.
Maintenance or Parts Suppliers - entities responsible for maintaining the aircraft or supplying parts may be liable if inadequate maintenance or defective components were contributing factors.
Federal Government - in certain instances, the federal government may share responsibility, particularly if regulatory oversight or air traffic control issues are identified as contributing to the accident.
Frequently Asked Questions
The fees charged by aviation accident attorneys can vary depending on the law firm and the specific details of your case. Our aviation accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if you win your case, with no upfront or out-of-pocket fees.
The duration of an aviation accident case can vary significantly. Complex cases with multiple parties involved and extensive investigations may take several years to resolve. Simpler cases can be resolved more quickly, often within a year or two. The timeline depends on factors like the complexity of the case, the willingness of the parties to negotiate, and court schedules.
If your airplane accident was caused by pilot error, you likely have a valid legal claim. Pilot error typically involves negligence on the part of the pilot, such as failing to follow proper procedures or making careless mistakes that led to the accident. Our aviation accident attorneys can investigate the circumstances of your accident and determine if other factors, like maintenance issues or defective equipment, contributed to pilot error.
Signing a liability waiver before a flight does not necessarily prevent you from pursuing a legal claim in the event of an accident. The ability to enforce such waivers can vary by jurisdiction and the specific language of the waiver. An experienced aviation accident attorney can review the waiver and assess whether it may impact your case. In many instances, waivers may not absolve parties of liability for negligence or other misconduct.
Selecting the right airplane accident attorney is crucial. Look for attorneys with experience in aviation accident cases, a successful track record, and a deep understanding of aviation laws and regulations. Schedule consultations with potential attorneys to discuss your case and gauge their expertise and commitment. Choose an attorney who makes you feel confident in their ability to represent your interests effectively.
Yes, you can file a lawsuit against aircraft manufacturers if their products or components were a contributing factor in the airplane accident. Manufacturers may be held liable for design defects, manufacturing flaws, or inadequate warnings. Aviation accident attorneys can investigate the role of the aircraft and its components in the accident to determine if a lawsuit against the manufacturer is appropriate.
Airline negligence can play a significant role in airplane accidents. Negligence on the part of the airline may involve issues like inadequate maintenance, improper training of staff, or failure to adhere to safety protocols. If airline negligence is a contributing factor in the accident, it may be grounds for a legal claim against the airline.
The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit after an airplane accident can vary by jurisdiction and the specifics of your case. It's essential to consult with an aviation accident attorney promptly to ensure you meet all legal deadlines. Missing these deadlines can result in the forfeiture of your right to pursue a legal claim.
Various types of airplane accidents can be legally pursued, including but not limited to mid-air collisions, runway incursions, engine failures, cabin fires, severe turbulence incidents, and structural failures. The viability of a legal claim depends on the specific circumstances of the accident and the parties involved.
What Compensation is Available for Aviation Accidents?
Companies that own and operate aircraft are required by strict federal laws to keep their plane safe for their patrons. When these large aviation corporations cut corners on safety and maintenance, or employ workers who engage in negligent conduct, they can and should be held liable for the injuries and fatalities that their actions cause. The negligent conduct of a pilot, employee, or corporation can result in the sudden and catastrophic injury or death of passengers. If you're currently dealing with a personal injury incurred from an airplane accident, you may be entitled to compensation for the following expenses or damages:
Medical costs, including hospital bills, ambulance bills, and medication or other costs of treatment
Loss of wages
Loss of future wages
Loss of quality of life
Wrongful death penalties
Aviation accidents are among the most deadly types of accidents - to receive the full compensation you deserve, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident involving a plane or helicopter, Wettermark Keith is fully equipped to stand behind you.
How an Aviation Accident Lawyer Can Help
After an aviation accident, victims and their families often face immense physical, emotional, and financial challenges. The journey to determine liability and seek compensation is complex but essential for recovery. Aviation accident attorneys play a crucial role in helping victims secure justice and holding responsible parties accountable.
If we accept your case, our lawyers will immediately start an independent investigation of your situation, consulting with accident reconstruction experts and medical professionals to identify liable parties and build a strong case on your behalf. We will gather necessary evidence to strengthen your case, evaluating witness statements, records, radar data, and wreckage. Our attorneys will correctly quantify your damages, whether medical costs, lost income, or pain and suffering. If you have lost a loved one to wrongful death, our lawyers will be a source of compassionate support during this time, assessing funeral costs, loss of companionship, and other damages.
Our lawyers understand the complexities of aviation regulations. We even have attorneys who are licensed pilots, whose insider perspective is invaluable in an aviation accident case. Our attorneys also have a knack for negotiation, whether dealing with insurance companies, manufacturers, or other defendants. We will demand full accountability and maximum restitution on your behalf. If a fair settlement can't be reached, we're prepared to take your case to trial. Most of all, our lawyers provide compassionate support throughout legal proceedings. We bring a sense of control during chaos, and we work tirelessly to deliver the answers and justice you deserve.
We understand that an aviation accident may have left you with strained finances. When selecting clients to represent in court, our firm operates on a contingency fee basis. What this means to our clients is simple: if we don’t win your case, you won’t pay anything. We choose to operate this way for the benefit of our clients - we want to see you obtain a successful recovery so that you can continue to carry on with your life.
Contact Wettermark Keith today if you have been the victim of a personal injury from an aviation accident or have lost a loved one to a wrongful death after an aviation accident.
Seek Justice - Contact Our Attorneys Today for a Free Consultation
At Wettermark Keith, we know that no amount of money can make up for the emotional devastation of losing someone in a plane crash. However, holding negligent parties fully accountable and obtaining fair compensation is a meaningful way to pursue justice. We realize that if you or a loved one have suffered an aviation accident, the last thing you want to do is get tangled in insurance and settlement negotiations. Our attorneys serve as advocates against entities of all sizes, from corporate airline giants to smaller aviation companies. We’re fully prepared to fight for the compensation you deserve - all the way to the courtroom.
Your journey toward recovery and justice begins with that crucial first step – contacting Wettermark Keith for a comprehensive evaluation of your case. Don't wait - schedule your free consultation today. During this free evaluation, we will thoroughly assess the details of your case, offering insights and guidance tailored to your unique circumstances. You're not just another case to us - we take your representation personally.
Wettermark Keith, with offices located throughout Alabama, Tennessee, and Florida, has an excellent reputation as one of the most accomplished personal injury firms in the country. Our reach is not only regional but includes a diverse range of practice areas, including premises liability law, personal injury cases, auto wrecks, trucking wrecks, nursing home abuse, medical malpractice, on-the-job injuries, social security disability, and veterans’ disability claims, to name just a few. At Wettermark Keith, we believe in taking cases personally. Our purpose is to practice with care and compassion- to tell our clients’ stories and make their voices heard. We do this by building strong relationships based on constant communication and an unwavering dedication to truth and trust. You should never wonder what’s going on with your case. We will keep you in the loop and represent you as if you are family- because to us, you are.
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