Who is Responsible When an Airplane Crashes?

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Commercial airline disasters are always headline news. Though they may command worldwide attention, commercial plane crashes are exceedingly rare.

While large plane crashes are the most newsworthy, smaller, private planes are far more dangerous. In 2013, there were 1,199 crashes involving private airplanes and helicopters, which killed 347 people and injured 571 others.  

When a plane crashes, who is responsible? Who will be left to compensate the families of those injured or killed? The answer: it depends.

Commercial Airline Disasters

When a commercial airliner goes down, families will almost always be able to recover compensation from the airline and its insurance carrier. This will mostly like be the case whether the crash was due to pilot error, a malfunction in the plane itself, or an act of God, such as lightning in a storm.

Even when the airline would not normally be responsible for an accident, such as when the plane is shot down by terrorists or suffers some other unforeseen event, it usually makes better business sense for an airline to settle claims based on the accident rather than fight them in court.

Private Airplane and Helicopter Crashes

Legal responsibility for a private airplane or helicopter crash is normally more complicated than it is for a commercial accident. Unlike large airlines, who have a business interest in settling cases quickly and without litigation, the liability for small craft accidents can be much more contentious.

First, most airplane accidents are caused by pilot error. Negligence on the part of the pilot can mean that the pilot is personally responsible for any injuries or damages caused. Most pilots protect themselves financially by purchasing insurance, much like drivers with auto insurance. Damages caused by the pilot’s negligence are usually taken out of this insurance.

Next, the plane or helicopter’s owner may be responsible for damages, if the person or company failed to maintain the plane, or negligently hired a pilot who caused an accident. Like pilots, many companies and plane owners will also purchase insurance, especially if their aircrafts are rented out to the public.

Finally, the plane’s manufacturer or the aircraft’s maintenance crew may be responsible if there were manufacturing or repair issues which caused the accident.

Contact Phillips Law Group Today

In a large scale commercial airplane accident, the National Transportation Safety Board will conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of an accident. With smaller aircraft however, their investigation is much less complete, and many victims or their families are left to investigate the causes of an accident themselves.

Hiring a personal injury firm with experience in aviation accidents, like the Phillips Law Group, will ensure that you find out the actual cause of a plane crash and can seek compensation against all responsible parties.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an aviation accident, call (800) 706-3000 to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney today. Phillips Law Group will work to secure justice for you after an aviation accident.  

Driving In Mexico? Remember These Tips If You Are In An Accident.

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If you plan on driving in Mexico, be aware that the Mexican laws and procedures regarding car accidents are much different than those in the States. Before you travel in Mexico, make sure you are prepared in case of a car accident.

You Need Mexican Auto Insurance

The Mexican government requires that all persons driving a car have a Mexican auto insurance policy. Before you drive, check with your auto insurance policy to see if you are covered for accidents in Mexico.

Additionally, check to make sure your auto insurance policy will be accepted as insurance in Mexico—chances are, you will need to purchase a separate policy which complies with Mexican law. These insurance policies can be obtained through the internet or from insurance sellers at either side of the border for $10 to $15 dollars a day.

Many people who drive in Mexico for business and cross the border frequently stay within the Border Zone, or Free Zone. This area extends 12-18 miles from the U.S./Mexico border, and allows U.S. citizens to freely come back and forth without extensive visa or stay requirements, as long as your trip is less than 72 hours.

Keep in mind that even if your trip is short, you will still need insurance while driving in Mexico. If you are in an accident in the Border Zone, Mexican law will still apply.

You May Go to Jail

It is very common, and legal, for Mexican authorities to arrest and detain anyone involved in an auto accident which involves physical injury or major property damage. In fact, if someone is injured in an accident, be prepared to spend time in jail while the Mexican authorities investigate the accident.

If the accident was not your fault, you will be released. If the accident was your fault, your vehicle will be impounded and you will be released from jail once you can prove that you are financially able to pay for any damages. Usually, this can be accomplished by providing proof of Mexican auto insurance or a cash payment, usually around $5,000.

If you do not have Mexican auto insurance, or if you committed a crime while driving (such as, driving recklessly or while intoxicated), you may have to spend much longer in jail while you wait for your case to be sorted out. If you do have Mexican auto insurance, your insurance adjuster will normally provide proof of your insurance to the police, and will help you bond out of jail. He or she may also call the U.S. Consulate for assistance if you have been charged with a crime.

You May Be Able to Sue in the United States

Normally, auto accidents in Mexico are settled at the scene of the accident or shortly thereafter. Many people involved in accidents arrange for cash payments at the scene that will cover any damages to vehicles. If the accident involved serious property damage or injury, the victim of the accident will negotiate a settlement to cover the damage. The person who caused the accident will likely remain in jail until the terms of the settlement can be sorted out.

It is not common to file a lawsuit in the United States over an accident which occurred in Mexico, but it does happen. It is usually more lucrative for the victim to file a lawsuit here, because Mexican law does not allow a victim to recover special damage, like those for pain and suffering or missed work.

You may be able to sue in the United States if the parties insurance companies allow for foreign lawsuits. Additionally, if you rented a vehicle in Mexico, you will need also need to check the terms of your rental car policy. The majority of these insurance policies do not allow for people to sue in the United States, but some do.

It may be difficult to sustain a lawsuit in the U.S., especially if the other party is a Mexican citizen. The legal intricacies of filing and serving paperwork in a foreign country, and potential issues with the other party receiving authorization to enter the country means that most lawsuits here are difficult. In addition, trying to collect a judgment in a foreign country can also be almost impossible. As a result, most car accident cases are settled while both parties are still in Mexico.

If you have been injured in a car accident in Mexico, the Phoenix-based attorneys at Phillips Law Group can help you recover for your injuries. Our experienced attorneys understand the interplay between these two countries legal systems, and will help you get the compensation you deserve. Call (800) 706-3000 to speak with an attorney about your case today. 

FDA Calls for Label Changes on Blood Pressure Medication Benicar®

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has completed a safety review of Benicar® and other olmesartan drugs and has requested that drug manufacturers update the labels on these drugs.

According to the FDA, the labels should include information about some of these studies and reviews. The safety review by the FDA was prompted by results of a ROADMAP (Randomized Olmesartan and Diabetes Micro albuminuria Prevention) trial that examined the effects or using olmesartan in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Although the FDA believes there was no clear evidence of medical complications, the ROADMAP trial has found that there was an increased risk of cardiovascular death in the olmesartan group compared to the group taking a placebo. The FDA believes that the benefits of olmesartan drugs outweigh the potential risks, however, patients are advised to speak with their healthcare professionals about any concerns they have taking the drug.

A different study, the Olmesartan Reducing Incidence of End Stage Renal Disease in Diabetic Nephropathy Trial, also suggested that a high-dose of olmesartan could result in cardiovascular risks among diabetic patients.

This data raises concerns of possible cardiovascular disease risks among diabetic patients who use Benicar, Benicar HCT and other olmesartans. If you begin to experience cardiovascular disease symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath or heart arrhythmias, speak to your doctor right away.

This is the second time the FDA has approved labels for Benicar in less than two years. In 2013, the FDA called on drug manufacturers to include information on the link between Benicar and gastrointestinal problems. Many consumers who have taken Benicar and Benicar HTC have suffered spru-like enteropathy symptoms, which can be similar to symptoms of Celiac disease.

If you or someone you know has suffered serious side effects prior to these label changes, the victim may be entitled to file a Benicar lawsuit. The attorneys at Phillips Law Group can help you determine what your legal rights are.

Call us at 1-800-706-3000 or fill out the Free Case Review form on this page to schedule a free legal consultation.

8 Common Workplace Violations

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Employment Law in Arizona

Employment laws can vary from state to state, but knowing what your legal rights are in the workplace can help you determine if your employer is violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.

From overtime to vacation pay to bonuses, employers are known for violating certain employment laws. Here are eight of the most common workplace violations.

Unpaid Vacation Time
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that if an employer does provide vacation time, the time accrued should be part of the compensation you receive. If you were fired or quit, you’re entitled to the vacation time you accrued, per company policy.

"Use it or Lose" it Vacation Time
Use it or lose it vacation policies are illegal in some states, including California. In 2013, a California court declared one company’s policy illegal and claimed that the policy violated the California Labor Code.

Failing to Pay Commission or Bonuses
Although commission and bonuses are not regulated by the FLSA, if you and your employer came to an agreement about such compensation, you are entitled to receive the commission or bonus promised – depending on your state’s laws.

Unpaid or Improperly Calculated Overtime
Under the FLSA, overtime pay rules are based on a standard 40-hour work week. Employees who work over 40 hours must be paid at a rate of one and one-half times their regular hourly rate. Make sure you are keeping track of the hours you have worked and that your employer is following the federal overtime guidelines.

False Reporting
When non-exempt employees work overtime, some employers will look the other way or will not allow the hours to be reported. If an employer does not allow you to report overtime or fails to pay you for these hours, their actions do not comply with the FLSA.

Violating Federal Minimum Wage Standards
As of July 2009, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Some exceptions, however, include student workers and disabled workers who may be paid at a lower rate. Young workers may also be paid less during their first 90 days of employment. Additionally, workers who receive tips on the job may be paid a minimum rate of $2.13 per hour.

Offering Comp Time Instead of Overtime Pay
In some cases, an employer may opt to provide an employee with comp time instead of overtime pay. Comp time is basically paid time off; however, employers are the ones benefiting from this because if they paid you overtime then they would be required to pay you time and a half.

If you suspect that your employer is violating the Fair Labor Standards Act, the employment law attorneys at Phillips Law Group can help you. Contact us today by filling out the Free Case Review form on this page.

General Motors Recalls Additional 3.16 Million Vehicles

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Yesterday, General Motors announced a recall of 3.16 million additional vehicles, which brings the total number of vehicles recalled this year in North American to approximately 20 million.

The new recall will bring in vehicle models from the years 2000 through 2014 in order to replace the ignition keys. The current keys and ignition switch may cause the key to turn when the vehicle is jostled by railroad tracks, potholes, or other obstacles.

Though this recall sounds similar to past recalls which are the subject of multiple lawsuits, GM says that this switch problem is different than the faulty ignition switch problems with the Chevy Cobalt.

The makes and models of the newly recalled vehicles are:

  • Buick Lacrosse, 2005-2009
  • Chevrolet Impala, 2006-2014
  • Cadillac Deville, 2000–2005
  • Cadillac DTS, 2004–2011
  • Buick Lucerne, 2006–2011
  • Buick Regal LS & GS, 2004–2005
  • Chevy Monte Carlo, 2006–2008

Vehicles affected by the recall should be taken to a General Motors dealership for repairs. For more information on the GM recalls, visit Phillips Law Group’s GM Timeline page.


If you believe that a faulty vehicle part caused your accident, contact Phillips Law Group today at (800) 706-3000. 

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