While not as common as motor vehicle accidents, airplanes, and other aviation vehicles can be just as deadly. In 2021, there were 210 reported general aviation accidents, though, commercial airlines experienced none. Private aircrafts are often more accident-prone due to more lenient maintenance requirements, less safety training, and other contributing factors.
If your loved one was a victim of a deadly aircraft accident, you may want to consider your legal options. Our Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys have compiled a guide below to examine whether a loved one’s aviation accident constitutes a claim.
Examples of Aviation Wrongful Death Accidents
There are many factors that can result in an aviation accident including but not limited to:
- FUIs: Similar to a DUI, pilots are expected to be sober and coherent when operating an aircraft. There have been numerous reported cases in which a drunk pilot has crashed and in some cases, crashed into civilian homes.
- Catastrophic Injuries: A passenger may sometimes experience a brain or other catastrophic injury from flying conditions that can result in fatality. This might be caused by unwarned turbulence, slip-and-fall, and unsecured objects. While later debunked, TV salesperson Billy Mays’ death was initially investigated as potentially having been caused by head injuries suffered when struck by baggage.
- Poor manufacturing or design: In some cases, a faulty design can make it impossible for a pilot to correct a situation.
- Inadequate training: Pilots are required to participate in extensive training to receive their license however, that is not always enough. Unfortunately, a poorly trained pilot and crew can result in tragedy.
- Weather conditions: It is understood that planes carry the risk of running into dangerous weather conditions. However, these situations can often be prevented. A pilot and air traffic control’s failure to properly address foreseeable issues can hold them liable for the accident.
Who is responsible for an aircraft accident?
There are several parties that can be named in a wrongful death filing. A Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer will determine the best defendants to name depending on the circumstances of the accident. Some may include:
- Pilots: A pilot is responsible for safely operating the plane. This means they can be liable for injuries stemming from distracted driving, intoxication, and other negligent errors.
- Manufacturers: Manufacturers are expected to produce safe products. If an oxygen mask fails to deploy or the wheel locks up, a manufacturer can be held liable. In most cases, a product liability claim can be filed for any faulty design element contributing to a loved one’s death.
- Crew: There may be circumstances in which a flight attendant or other crew member may be found negligent. However, it is likely their employer will be the subject of the claim. Examples of negligence include failure to secure baggage or overserving an intoxicated passenger.
- Air Traffic Control and Federal Aviation Administration: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can be held liable for the mistakes of air traffic controllers. In some cases, the controller may also be named as well. Examples of negligence include failure to communicate a hazard or respond to a pilot’s concerns, and failing to clear the runway.
- Airline companies: There are several instances in which the larger corporation can be the subject of an aviation wrongful death claim. If an airline failed to properly train its pilots and crew it can be found negligent. An example of this may be failing to clear the aisles, or failing to provide the passengers with a safety demonstration.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
Surviving family members must file within their jurisdiction’s outlined statute of limitations. In California, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of passing. While these are times of mourning and indescribable sadness, it is important to contact a lawyer in a timely manner. Failure to do so can throw away your case.
A wrongful death lawyer in Los Angeles will guide you through all stages of the legal process. After determining the responsible parties, your lawyer will work with you to gather the needed evidence to prove a party’s negligence. Examples of this may include witness statements, toxicology reports, accident reports, and other key elements.
There are several elements required to prove a wrongful death lawsuit. The opposing insurance companies will try to undermine their client’s role in the accident, and may even push for settlement. Wrongful death cases can be difficult to argue. The best law firms will do everything they can to secure maximum compensation, even if it means going to trial.
A Los Angeles wrongful death attorney will need to prove how the defendant’s error and negligence caused the accident. The court will examine:
- Whether the defendant had a “duty of care”
- Whether that duty was breached
- Whether the death was directly correlated to that breach
If your case is proven to be successful, you may receive financial compensation for:
- Medical bills and pain and suffering prior to their passing
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of future income and financial support
- Loss of companionship
Again, each case will vary. This is why it is important to hire a Los Angeles wrongful death attorney instead of self-representation. A legal professional can help you determine the full extent of compensation you are entitled to in your wrongful death case.
Free Consultation with a Los Angeles Wrongful Death Attorney
Airplanes are supposed to be a safe and convenient method of travel. We cannot always prevent unexpected conditions. However, there is an expectation that the manufacturer, pilot, crew, and other appropriate parties will protect and mitigate potential errors.
If your loved one was a victim of a fatal aircraft accident, it is understandable to seek justice. John J. Perlstein is a respected Los Angeles wrongful death attorney with over 25 years of experience bringing justice to the Southern California community. He will fight relentlessly on your behalf to bring you the legal compensation and closure you deserve.
For a free consultation with the best Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer, contact us today.