Airplane accidents may not be as prevalent as, say, accidents involving motor vehicles like cars, buses, or motorcycles. However, they still occur and they still bring grief and misfortune to many families. For instance, in San Diego August 2015, a midair collision occurred in Southern California. The death toll rose to five after an investigation took place. Two planes involved were approaching Brown Field Municipal Airport when the collision took place and they caught fire when they hit the ground. First responders to the accident saw a horrendous scene where wreckage was strewn across a quarter-mile area.
There may be many causes for an airplane crash, all of which may be hard to make a determination over. Families and survivors involved in these crashes may be able to bring various claims against whoever was liable for the accident, despite the fact that the federal government works to provide support services to families of victims and survivors. Most airplane crashes will be caused by such things as pilot error, defective equipment, defective design or structural problems with the airplane, errors made by federal air traffic controllers, faulty maintenance or repair of the airplane, or fuel problems.
Common Legal Claims
- Product Liability Claims: Plaintiffs will sometimes be able to bring these claims against a manufacturer or distributor of a faulty part if this was at play with the accident. The plaintiff will typically not have to prove that the defendant acted negligently, just that the defect caused an injury.
- Negligence: Plaintiffs can bring a negligence claim when the crash was due to pilot error if an injury or death occurred as a result of carelessness. They must show that a competent pilot would have acted differently than a negligent one would have.
- Federal Tort Claims Act: Plaintiffs must due under the Federal tort claims act (FTCA) when the carelessness of somebody in the Federal Aviation Agency caused an accident. Special rules and procedures will be set forth to be followed when suing them.
What is Federal Assistance for Families of Airplane Crash Victims?
The National Transportation Safety Board must work under the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act. Under this, they have to designate independent nonprofit organization to coordinate services for the disaster survivors and victim’s families. The services included under this act include mental health and counseling services, meeting with families of victims, victim identification, arranging memorial services, translation services, and more.
The Airline company is also involved and has responsibilities. The Family Assistance Act requires that the involved airline must establish a toll-free telephone line for families of victims, list all passengers on the flight, inform families of the death of family members, and assist the families in traveling to the location of the accident.
There are also limits on attorney solicitation to keep in mind. In the 1990s, families of victims involved in some serious crashes complained of constant harassment by attorneys in the days following the crash. They even appeared at some of the memorial services while grieving took place. After this occurred, Congress included a provision in the act that stated that lawyers and their agents could not solicit or communicate with crash survivors or victims’ families until 45 days after the crash takes place.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a plane crash and you don’t know where to turn, you may want to first seek the help of a trusted attorney. The issues involved in these accidents may be very complex. Call WTW located in California today for a case assessment to see where you stand!