Private Aircraft Accident

General aviation or private aircraft accidents represent the largest number of aviation accidents in the United States and ... the world. These airplanes are particularly vulnerable to weather, poor maintenance, inadequate inspections and repairs, defective design, and human error. Recently, our firm handled a private airplane crash in which a mother and her son were killed when their single engine airplane crashed in severe weather. Our firm represented the families in a wrongful death action against the Federal Aviation Administration for the failure of their Air Traffic Controllers to provide pertinent and observed severe weather information to the pilot. In addition, legal action was taken against the manufacturer of a component part that powered the flight instrumentation as well as the airplane manufacturer and a service facility. Our attorneys were able to secure a multi-million settlement with the defendants on behalf of the families. For a complete list of the firm's representative results, go to our Verdicts and Settlements section or click here for a free and full case evaluation.

The following are among the types of lawsuits in airplane crash, airline disaster, runway incursion and other aviation mishap cases:

FAA and Air Traffic Controler Error:

The Federal Aviation Administration is responsible for the certification of aircraft and its components, the licensing of pilots and other aircrew, and for the surveillance of aircraft while in flight. A breach of these duties may be actionable under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Experienced counsel must likewise examine the role of the FAA in any given case.

Several cases have involved negligence of air traffic control personnel which recognize that the government has consented to be sued for the negligence of its controllers taking their control of aircraft in the air, when landing, taking off or taxiing at airports. Many cases involving the negligence of Air-Traffic Controllers relate to the negligent guiding of pilots of small airplanes into bad weather including fog, storms in formation, or tornadic weather. Once the government undertakes to provide such service, it must exercise due care and will be responsible if it failed to utilize such care.

Mechanical Failure Claims:

The plaintiff may have to establish that the pilot's negligence contributed to the accident or that a mechanic negligently failed to detect or properly repair a component of the plane. These cases may be brought against the common air carrier or the owner of the private plane. If a mechanical failure results from a defect in the design or construction of an airplane or a component of the airplane, the plaintiff may establish a products liability claim against the manufacturer of the component or the airplane. In a products liability claim based on defective construction or manufacturing, the plaintiff must establish that the manufacturer of the component that caused the accident failed to detect a defect in the particular component that was used in the airplane that had the accident.

Defective Product Claims:

An aircraft manufacturer may be liable for negligently designing or assembling this product. The choice of materials, the quantity and quality of testing and analysis, the adequacy or inadequacy of maintenance instructions, and any representations or warnings as to the use or abuse of the product may each constitute a theory upon which release can be granted. These represent a unique hurdle for a plaintiff, in that the plaintiff must establish that the manufacturer could have used a reasonable, alternative design that would have prevented the injury. A plaintiff might incur great expense in pursuing a products liability case based on defective design. In order to establish a reasonable, alternative design the plaintiff will likely have to hire an engineer or other expert to critique the manufacturer's design and to suggest the alternative design. A products liability case faces a better chance for success if prior cases have already established that the design of the component is defective.

Pilot or Employee Error:

If pilot or employee error contributed to or caused an airplane crash, runway accident or other aviation accident that causes a passenger injury, that passenger can maintain a suit not only against the pilot for his or her error, but also against the pilot's employer, the airline. In effect, employees acting in their capacity as employees "stand in" for the airline. Thus, an employee's error is the airline's error because under a legal doctrine known as "respondeat superior," the high degree of care required of a common carrier extends to its employees, including pilots, flight attendants, and mechanics.