Who is Responsible When an Airplane Crashes?
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- Who is Responsible When an Airplane Crashes?
Commercial airline disasters are always headline news. Though they may command worldwide attention, commercial airplane accidents are exceedingly rare.
While large plane crashes are the most newsworthy, smaller, private planes are far more dangerous. According to data from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Nall Report, which includes private aircraft information, in 2021 there were 939 accidents with 268 fatalities, compared to 988 in 2019 pre-pandemic with 307 fatalities.
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 most likely 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 Accidents 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, which 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 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 aircraft 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 that 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 the 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 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 1-800-706-3000 to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in Phoenix today. The team at Phillips Law Group will work to secure justice for you after an aviation accident.
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