Aviation Accident Liability
The Federal Aviation Administration or FAA has reported that air travel will significantly increase, namely almost up to 100%, within the next two decades. This increase will also unfortunately lead to more frequent aviation accidents. Statistics show that air travel is still the safest means of transportation. However, if aviation accidents happen, they usually lead to more fatalities and injuries.
Causes of Aviation Accidents
The law pertaining to aviation accidents applies to both general and major air carrier accidents. General aviation accidents usually involve large business aircrafts, charter flights, small planes, hang gliders and helicopters. Statistics show that the most common causes of aviation accidents are technical difficulties, such as faulty equipment, violations of FAA rules, pilot error, aircraft’s structural flaws and negligence of staff including air traffic controllers.
Airplane Crash Authority
There are two federal agencies that are responsible for air travel including the investigation of every single aviation accident in the United States, namely the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). While the NTSB is in charge of the investigation of every incident involving civil aircrafts and completes a NTSB accident report. The FAA is the agency that regulates air travel by setting safety standards including policies and operations regulations for pilots and aircraft manufacturers.
Aviation Accidents Injury Claims
Unfortunately, it is not always clear which party should be held liable for the damages and injuries of an aviation accident. The success of a lawsuit will mainly depend on the cause of the airplane crash. Among the potential parties that could be held liable are the aircraft owner, operator and manufacturer. There are also some cases where the federal government was considered partly responsible for the aviation accident.
State, federal and international law impose different rules on liability which makes aviation litigation a very complex matter. In order to succeed with an injury claim, the victim needs to submit proof that the other party did not comply with the industry standard pertaining to the operation of the aircraft. Violation of regulatory issues by the aircraft operator could also be a strong argument of the injured party.
Airplane Crash Law
In general, claims for personal injury or fatality caused by an aviation accident are covered by the rules of product liability and negligence. There are also instances where the federal rules and regulations set by the FAA need to be applied. The rule on the standards of care is an example.
Negligence is the failure to take the necessary steps to prevent foreseeable risks from happening. The action of a party will be compared to what a reasonable person would have done under given circumstances.
The legal theory of “product liability” pertains to the responsibility of sellers and manufacturers of products to make sure that users are not exposed to any kind of risk while using their products. If there is evidence showing that the aircraft has defects which caused the accident, a personal injury or death claim could be made against the manufacturer or seller of the aircraft.
The vicarious liability theory refers to the liability of the owner of an aircraft because he has the legal “duty to care” for the passengers and employees on board his aircraft. Even injured people on the ground could make a vicarious liability claim against the aircraft owner if carelessness or recklessness on the part of the owner could be proven.