Who Can You Hold Accountable After An Aviation Accident?
Aviation accidents, including those involving commercial planes, private planes, and helicopters, can involve a range of circumstances. Whether you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries while traveling in a plane or helicopter, or you have lost a loved one in a fatal aviation accident, determining who can be held accountable for your losses and damages is critical to securing the compensation you need.
At Fleming | Nolen | Jez, L.L.P., our firm was built on litigating aviation accidents, and is led by firm Founder George Fleming, a former Justice Department attorney who represented the U.S. in major airplane crashes and other aviation disasters. Our experience in the field is unique, and provides our team with the ability to pursue fault and liability in even the most complex cases.
Because all accidents are unique, who can be held liable in your crash will be determined by the individual circumstances in your case. Generally, however, there are several parties commonly held liable for aviation accidents:
- Owners and operators – Owners and operators of aircrafts, as well as pilots, may be held liable for victims’ damages when their negligence (or failure to meet industry standards and uphold their legal duty of care) led to preventable accidents. Examples of negligence may include pilot or staff error and violations of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. Even when owners of an aircraft are not operating it during an accident, they may be held accountable under vicarious liability, which is similar to how employers are legally responsible for the conduct of their employees.
- Airline maintenance companies – Some aircraft owners may contract maintenance responsibilities to third parties. These maintenance providers have obligations to ensure that planes and helicopters are routinely inspected and that potential hazards are addressed and remedied. Failing to do so, or committing other FAA safety violations in regard to aircraft maintenance, may mean that these companies can be held liable for resulting damages.
- Product manufacturers – Ensuring that all components of an aircraft are in proper working order is vital to the safety of passengers. When manufacturers design inherently flawed products that make them unsafe, or when they produce products with poor workmanship or poor quality materials, they can potentially be held liable when those products malfunction, fail, and cause accidents.
- Multiple parties – In many aviation accident cases, multiple parties may be held at fault for causing or contributing to preventable accidents. This may be the case when maintenance providers make errors and owners and operators fail to exercise due diligence in overseeing their work. When investigating cases, our legal team looks to ensure that all parties responsible for accidents are named as defendants.
- Federal government – In some cases, aviation accidents may be caused by the negligence of federal employees, including federal air traffic controllers. In these cases, it may be possible for victims to pursue claims against the federal government under the Federal Tort Claims Act. There are specific laws and procedures that apply to these cases, and they demand the attention of lawyers experienced in the field.
Aviation accidents can result in devastating injuries and life-altering losses. If you wish to discuss a potential case and how our experienced and compassionate lawyers can guide you through the personal injury or wrongful death claim process, call (713) 621-7944 for a free consultation.