Dallas Aviation Accident Lawyer

Types of Aviation Accidents

Aviation accidents encompass more than just plane crashes. They include:

  • Commercial Airplane Crashes: This refers to accidents involving commercial airliners.
  • Private Plane Crashes: Accidents involving privately owned aircraft.
  • Helicopter Accidents: Involves crashes or malfunctions of helicopters.
  • Cargo Plane Accidents: Accidents involving planes designed primarily to carry goods.
  • Hang-Glider Accidents: Accidents arising from non-motorized flight.
  • Hot-Air Balloon Accidents: Any incident with balloon flights.
  • Turbulence Accidents: Injuries sustained due to rough air during flight or the failure to secure dangerous objects.
  • Take Off and Landing Accidents: Accidents resulting from incorrect procedures or other factors during the take-off and landing stages of a flight.
  • Runway Accidents: Mishaps during takeoff, landing, or taxiing.
  • Non-Crash Related Aviation Accidents: For example, this may include burns from hot beverages, luggage injuries, slips, or falls on a commercial airplane.
  • Drone Accidents: Accidents involving unmanned aircrafts that result in personal injuries.
  • Airport Accidents: Accidents involving employees, passengers, or others at the airport. This may include accidents that result in personal injuries inside an airport terminal or hanger.

Common Questions After an Aviation Accident

The aftermath of an aviation accident is a tumultuous time filled with shock, grief, and uncertainty. For those directly affected, either through personal injury or the tragic loss of a loved one, a flurry of pressing questions arise. These questions often revolve around understanding the reasons for the accident, determining responsibility, and navigating the legal landscape to seek justice and compensation.

This section aims to address some of the most frequently asked questions that victims and their families grapple with following a plane crash or other aviation accident.

Are airlines liable for personal injury?

Yes, airlines may be held liable when negligence is proven.

Can you sue an airline if they crash?

Yes, depending on the cause and circumstances of the crash.

Who may be responsible for injuries sustained in an aviation accident?

Pilots, airline operators, manufacturers, maintenance crews, or air traffic controllers, depending on the specific circumstances of the accident.

What should I do first if I was hurt on an airplane?

Seek medical attention immediately and document the incident and injuries.

You may be covered under international treaties like the Montreal Convention, but this will depend on the unique circumstances of your situation.

Do the same laws apply to commercial aircraft and private aircraft?

Different regulations and laws may apply depending on the type of aircraft. In Texas, however, a negligence claim for personal injuries may be brought against both commercial airline companies and parties that own or charter private aircrafts.

How much can you recover from an aviation accident personal-injury claim?

The amount varies based on factors like severity, liability, and insurance coverage. A personal injury lawyer can help you determine the value of your aviation accident claim.

How much can you recover from a wrongful-death claim arising from an aviation accident?

The amount that you may recover in a wrongful-death case depends on a variety of factors as well as the unique circumstances of your case. Factors affecting the value of your claim may include, among other things, loss of future earnings, loss of companionship, funeral costs, and emotional distress. A personal injury attorney can help you evaluate the dollar value of the harms and losses for which you may recover in your wrongful-death case.

What is the FAA?

“FAA” stands for the United States Federal Aviation Administration, which is the governmental agency that’s responsible for the regulation and oversight of civil aviation.

What is the NTSB?

“NTSB” stands for the United States National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB is responsible for investigating every civil aviation accident in the U.S. as well as significant events in the other modes of transportation, including railroad, transit, highway, marine, pipeline, and commercial space.

Common Injuries in Non-Fatal Aviation Accidents

When an aviation accident occurs that doesn’t result in fatalities, there are still significant injuries that passengers and crew can suffer. These injuries can range from minor bruises to severe physical and psychological harm. Some of the most common non-fatal injuries include:

  • Whiplash: This is a neck injury that can occur when the head is jerked forward and then backward quickly, such as during turbulence or a sudden stop.
  • Fractures: These can happen in various body parts like the arm, leg, wrist, or ribcage, often due to sudden impacts or being thrown against hard surfaces inside the aircraft.
  • Burns: These can arise from fires post-impact, or even onboard issues like spilt hot beverages or malfunctioning equipment.
  • Concussions: A type of traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head or a violent shaking. This can occur if a passenger’s head hits the overhead bins, seats, or other hard surfaces during turbulence or an accident.
  • Lacerations: Deep cuts or tears in the skin, often from flying debris, shattered glass, or jagged metal during or after an accident.
  • Sprains and Strains: Overstretching or tearing of ligaments (sprains) or muscles/tendons (strains) can occur during sudden movements, turbulence, or bracing for impact.
  • Dislocations: Joints, especially the shoulder, can be dislocated due to the force exerted during a crash or from bracing against turbulence.
  • Hearing Loss: The loud noise from an explosion or crash can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss.
  • Spinal Injuries: These can range from minor back strains to severe spinal cord injuries. They might result from the force of impact or from lifting heavy luggage from the overhead bin.
  • Soft-Tissue Injuries: These refer to damage to muscles, ligaments, and tendons. They can be caused by strains, sprains, or direct trauma. Soft tissue injuries might not always be immediately visible, like internal bruising or minor muscle tears, but can cause significant pain and discomfort. In aviation accidents, they might occur due to sudden jolts, bracing for impact, or being thrown against surfaces inside the aircraft. Proper medical assessment is crucial, as untreated soft-tissue injuries can lead to chronic pain or complications.
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Psychological trauma from the accident can lead to PTSD, which may manifest as nightmares, flashbacks, or severe anxiety related to flying or loud noises.
  • Smoke Inhalation: In cases of onboard fires, even if quickly extinguished, passengers and crew can suffer from inhaling smoke, leading to respiratory problems.

It’s essential for anyone involved in an aviation accident to seek medical attention immediately, even if they feel fine. Some injuries—like concussions, soft-tissue injuries, or internal injuries—may not show symptoms immediately, but can have serious, negative long-term consequences if not promptly addressed.

Common Negligence Causes of Plane Crashes

Plane crashes, though rare compared to other types of accidents, can be devastating when they do occur. Understanding the common causes can aid in prevention and inform investigations after an incident. Here’s a deeper dive into some of the frequent negligence causes:

  • Pilot Error: This is one of the most common causes. It encompasses a range of mistakes, such as misjudging weather conditions, failing to recognize equipment malfunctions in time, improper communication with air traffic control, or miscalculating flight parameters like altitude and speed.
  • Mechanical Failures: Planes are intricate machines, and a malfunction in any component can lead to dire consequences. This includes engine failures, landing gear malfunctions, or problems with critical systems like hydraulics.
  • Defective Equipment: Sometimes, even if the plane’s maintenance is up to standard, a defective part or piece of equipment can cause an accident. This could be due to manufacturing errors, design flaws, or undetected wear and tear.
  • Improper Maintenance: Airlines and private aircraft owners have the responsibility to ensure their planes are in good working order. Neglecting regular checks, using subpar replacement parts, or overlooking reported issues can lead to mechanical failures.
  • Air-Traffic Controller Error: The job of coordinating multiple aircraft in busy skies is a challenging one. Mistakes in this area can lead to collisions, near-misses, or other dangerous situations.
  • Weather Conditions: While not strictly a negligence cause, unpredictable or severe weather can play a significant role in aviation accidents. However, negligence can be tied in if pilots, airlines, or air traffic controllers fail to adequately consider and respond to adverse weather conditions.
  • Fuel Contamination or Starvation: This can arise from poor maintenance, improper fueling procedures, or issues during fuel production and delivery. Contaminated or insufficient fuel can lead to engine failures.
  • Bird Strikes: Birds can cause significant damage if they collide with an aircraft, especially if they are sucked into the engines. Proper precautions at airports and during certain flight phases can mitigate these risks.
  • Inadequate Pilot Training: Insufficient training can lead to pilots not knowing how to respond in emergency situations or unfamiliar scenarios. This is especially a concern with newer aircraft models or advanced technology.
  • Runway Incursions: This refers to unauthorized presence on runways, whether it’s another aircraft, vehicle, or person. This can lead to dangerous situations, especially during takeoff and landing.

It’s important to note that many plane crashes result from a combination of factors. Comprehensive investigations are crucial to determine all the contributing causes and to implement measures to prevent similar accidents in the future.

Unique Issues Associated with Personal Injury Claims Involving a Plane Crash

The aftermath of a plane crash is not only emotionally draining but also legally complex. Pursuing a personal injury claim in the wake of such an event involves navigating some unique challenges:

  • Complex Liability Issues: Unlike a typical vehicular accident, determining who is at fault in a plane crash can be intricate. It could be the fault of the airline, the manufacturer, maintenance crews, air traffic controllers, or even external factors.
  • Large Number of Potential Plaintiffs: In a commercial airline crash, hundreds of passengers might be affected. This can lead to a mass tort or class action lawsuit, where numerous plaintiffs come together to sue a defendant or group of defendants.
  • Multiple Jurisdictions: A plane crash can involve laws from multiple regions. For example, an aircraft departing from Texas, crashing in another state, and manufactured in a third country, can bring in legal complexities spanning these jurisdictions.
  • High-profile Investigations: Plane crashes often attract attention from media and federal agencies. Bodies like the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) get involved, and their findings can significantly impact the trajectory of personal injury claims.
  • Preservation of Evidence: Unlike other accidents, the wreckage of a plane crash might be spread over a vast area, possibly underwater or in hard-to-reach terrains. This makes collecting and preserving evidence a monumental task.
  • International Laws and Treaties: For international flights, treaties like the Montreal Convention might come into play, which can have stipulations different from national laws regarding compensation and liabilities.
  • Economic and Non-economic Damages: Calculating damages after a plane crash can be more complicated. It’s not just medical bills or lost wages; it can also involve evaluating the emotional trauma, potential future earnings, and more.
  • Statute of Limitations: While personal injury claims generally have a time limit within which they must be filed, plane crashes might have specific nuances, especially when international jurisdictions are involved.
  • Insurance Matters: Airlines often have extensive insurance policies, and dealing with these insurance companies, who might attempt to minimize their liability, requires expertise and persistence.
  • Interplay with Criminal Law: In some cases, especially if the crash resulted from a deliberate act (like terrorism), there might be a concurrent criminal investigation. This can influence how the personal injury claims are approached.

Given the complexities surrounding plane crash personal injury claims, it’s crucial for victims and their families to secure experienced legal representation. This ensures that their rights are protected and they get the compensation they deserve.

Relevant Evidence in Aviation Accidents

Collecting evidence after an aviation accident is crucial to determine the cause and establish liability. Due to the complexities involved, a multitude of evidence types may be needed to paint a complete picture of the incident. Here’s a more detailed look at some of the essential pieces of evidence:

  • Black Box Recordings: Modern aircraft are equipped with two main types of “black boxes” — the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and the Flight Data Recorder (FDR). The CVR captures sounds and conversations within the cockpit, while the FDR logs thousands of pieces of data, from altitude and speed to system operations and switch activations.
  • Flight Logs: These are records kept by the pilots detailing flight times, routes, maintenance checks, and any irregularities or anomalies observed during the flight.
  • Maintenance Records: These documents provide a history of the aircraft’s upkeep, repairs, and parts replacements. They can help ascertain if any negligence in maintenance contributed to the accident.
  • Witness Testimonies: Passengers, crew members, and even individuals on the ground can provide firsthand accounts of the accident. Their recollections can shed light on the sequence of events leading up to and during the accident.
  • Weather Reports: Understanding the weather conditions at the time of the crash can help determine if they played a role in the incident. This can include data on wind speeds, temperatures, visibility, and more.
  • ATC Communications: Transcripts and recordings of communications between the aircraft and air traffic control can provide insights into the aircraft’s situation and any directions or advisories given by ATC.
  • Photographs and Videos: Images or footage, whether from passengers, witnesses, or security cameras, can provide visual evidence of conditions and damages. Satellite images might also be used in some cases.
  • Medical Reports: For personal injury claims, medical records post-accident are essential. They document the extent of injuries, treatments administered, and the prognosis.
  • Aircraft Manual and Manufacturer Documentation: These can reveal if the plane and its components were operating as intended or if there were any known issues or recalls.
  • Flight Crew Training Records: Reviewing the training and certifications of the flight crew can determine if they were adequately prepared for the situations they encountered.
  • On-site Investigation Findings: Specialists often visit the crash site to assess the wreckage. Their reports can include details about the crash’s impact, fire damage patterns, and the distribution of debris, which can hint at the crash’s cause.

Given the vast array of evidence involved, it’s often necessary to involve multiple experts, from aviation specialists to meteorologists, to provide insights and analysis. Properly collecting, preserving, and interpreting this evidence is key to successful legal outcomes following aviation accidents.

How Much Can You Recover from an Aviation Accident Personal-Injury Claim?

The amount varies based on factors like severity, liability, and insurance coverage. A personal injury lawyer can help you determine the value of your aviation accident claim.

How Much Can You Recover from a Wrongful Death Claim Arising from an Aviation Accident?

The amount that you may recover in a wrongful-death case depends on a variety of factors as well as the unique circumstances of your case. Factors affecting the value of your claim may include, among other things, loss of future earnings, loss of companionship, funeral costs, and emotional distress. A personal injury attorney can help you evaluate the dollar value of the harms and losses for which you may recover in your wrongful-death case.

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