Aviation Accidents Lawyers
If you have been injured or a loved one killed in an accident involving an aircraft, your rights depend on whether you were flying in a commercial plane, such as a typical airline or a chartered flight, or whether you were injured or your loved one killed while riding as a passenger in a private plane being used for recreational purposes.
As for commercial flights, the owner or operator of the plane is considered a “common carrier” and as such owes you the highest duty of care and can be held liable for the slightest carelessness (“negligence”). If it is a private recreational plane, you generally have to prove that the pilot was guilty of ordinary negligence in flying or maintaining the plane.
The main reasons for airplane crashes are negligence on the part of the pilot or co-pilot in operating the plane, the plane was not properly inspected and maintained, or the plane was defectively designed or manufactured. When a commercial airliner crashes, it is usually helpful but not necessary to obtain the “black boxes” (which are really orange for high visibility) that record the plane’s flight data and the cockpit conversations. When a airplane crashes for no apparent reason, a legal presumption exists that there was something wrong with the plane or the pilot committed some mistake that caused the plane to fall from the sky.
The owner/operator of a small private plane that is used for recreational purposes is required to use reasonable care under the circumstances to protect exposing his or her passengers to an unreasonable risk of harm. For instance, if the pilot is not instrument-rated, he or she may be legally responsible for injuries or deaths resulting from taking the plane up in inclement weather that requires navigation by instrument due to limited visibility. The owner/operator of the private aircraft must also be in compliance with annual inspections for the plane, as well as preflight inspections to ensure the plane is airworthy.
If you have been injured or a loved one killed in an aviation accident, whether it is a large commercial airliner or a small private plane, it is vital that you obtain an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to represent you. The lawyer will want to send his or her investigator or an aircraft accident reconstructionist to view and photograph the accident scene and the damage to the aircraft.