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Aviation Accidents and Natural Causes

March 21, 2017 · FLEMING | NOLEN | JEZ, L.L.P.

While the majority of plane crashes are caused by some type of human error or negligence, about 12% of all plane crashes are caused by weather conditions. Natural causes can often be the cause of aviation accidents, particularly for smaller private planes. Likewise, while many flights tend to be grounded until better weather arrives, this is sometimes completely impossible. Places with extreme weather can have bad days and worse days without a good day to be seen. For example, locations with high wind velocity or snowstorms during the winter rarely improve until the seasons change.


The cracks of thunder and flashes of lightning during a storm can be frightening on the ground, so you can imagine how terrifying and dangerous they can be when flying near them. When lightning strikes a plane, it can be especially dangerous. The additional pulse of pure electricity could completely fry the circuits aboard the aircraft, causing electrical failure.  It could also ignite fuel tanks and pipes.


Fog can also be dangerous but for different reasons. While it won’t influence the electrical circuits aboard the plane or cause fires, it will prevent pilots from landing. One flight in 1977, for example, crashed after a pilot encountered thick fog when preparing to land. The pilot couldn’t see the landing area or the lights designating where it might be. He circled the area several more times before the plane fuel completely ran out and the plane could no longer fly.


Microbursts are small downdrafts that move in a way opposite to a tornado. They are often found in strong thunderstorms. These can be especially dangerous to an aircraft, especially when landing, because of the wind shear caused by its gust front. A microburst’s wind speed is so strong it can knock over fully grown trees.

Despite the danger of the weather, people are responsible for what they do in regards to it. If a pilot decides to ignore the meteorological signs of severe weather, for example, it may be his or her fault the plane was out in a risky situation to begin with. Additionally, planes can be operated in certain weather conditions, but the pilot and crew must perform some steps to accommodate them. For example, if a crewmember fails to de-ice a plane for the next flight, the ice buildup could cause the aircraft to crash.

Depending on the circumstances of the flight, the plane could have crashed purely as the result of terrible weather and bad luck. However, if the reaction of the pilot or crew, or the decision to fly in the first place, was negligent, you may be able to sue for any medical bills, rehabilitation costs, property damage, or trauma you might have received because of the crash.

Fleming | Nolen | Jez, L.L.P. has been helping people recover damages for their injuries for decades. Collectively, we have more than 170 years of experience to offer you and your case. Our 8 skilled aviation accident attorneys can handle all types of personal injury cases and are proud to help the victims of negligence survive the financial hardship of extensive medical costs. Let us see what we can do for you.

Call us at (713) 621-7944 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case consultation today.