Airplane accidents are not common. However, whenever they happen, they usually lead to catastrophic injuries and death to the respective occupants. The passengers in the crash deserve compensation from the at-fault parties. Such consideration can be tough since airplane accidents are tough to tackle and consider. With the help of a professional law firm such as The LA Personal Injury Law Firm, you can get the compensation that you deserve.
Statistics of Airplane Accidents
According to the Aviation Safety Network, a total of 556 deaths were experienced from airplane accidents in 2018. Twelve of these accidents involved passenger-airplane accidents, while three of them involved cargo planes. The most significant crash is the Lion Air crash in Indonesia, which killed a total of 189 people. Other significant fatalities include:
- Boeing 732-201 which crashed outside the Havana airport and claimed 112 lives
- Us-Bangla Airlines that crashed while landing in Nepal and killed 51 people
- The Saratov Airlines plane crash that killed 71 people in Russia
- Accident involving the Aseman Airlines that crashed in Iran and claimed 66 fatalities.
The above-stated airplane crashes might appear to be few, but they claim a lot of lives more than any other type of accident. That’s why it is crucial to involve a personal injury attorney to help you handle catastrophic injuries, and wrongful death claims that result.
Explanation of California Airplane Accidents
In the aviation industry, an accident is considered as an occurrence that is associated with operating an aircraft that takes place from the time a person is on-board the aircraft to fly it or take a flight until the person disembarks. In that case, the accident might cause severe injuries to the person, have the aircraft sustain severe damage, or have the plane gone missing or completely inaccessible.
Aviation accidents involve a couple of planes which are considered as general aviation except passenger airlines. These planes include:
- Single engine
- Light sports aircraft
- Experimental plane
California records the highest number of general aviation in the United States, having single jets as the highest. This can be proved with the busiest General Aviation airport, the Van Nuys, located in Los Angeles.
Causes of Airplane Accidents
Numerous factors can lead to an aircraft accident. However, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the main reason for most aircraft accidents include:
Loss of Control
Loss of Control In-flight (LOC-I) is a frequent contributor to fatal airplane accidents in the world. It refers to an instance where the flight crew loses control of an aircraft while in flight, which results in an unrecoverable deviation from the intended flight path.
This kind of situation can result from numerous factors such as engine failure, stalls, or icing. Other contributing factors involve individuals or a combination of both categories. Even so, there has been a record of many accidents that result from environmental threats over the years.
Two common fuel-related issues can lead to an airplane accident. This includes fuel starvation and fuel exhaustion. Fuel starvation is the failure of the supply of sufficient fuel to the engine to allow it to run as expected. This can result from factors such as vapor lock, water contamination, fuel pump malfunctioning, incorrect operation, and many more.
On the other hand, fuel exhaustion, also known as fuel depletion, is an occurrence where the airplane in question becomes devoid ultimately of any usable fuel, which leads to similar results such as fuel starvation. All engines that are meant for transportation are prone to fuel starvation, although the problem might be severe in aircraft. In aircraft, the problem usually results from an improper fuel management system, such as selecting an empty tank to feed the engine rather than the full one.
Equipment Malfunctioning or Failure
There are a lot of factors that can lead to equipment malfunctioning. This includes design flaws, tear from prolonged use, and manufacturing defects. Although there are detailed assessments made on the plane before it flies, there are still chances of an equipment malfunction that might happen without the technician’s knowledge.
The chances of experiencing a mid-air collision are low since there is an advanced technology used in air traffic control. For instance, airplanes have a TCAS 2 Collision-avoidance system that can detect a possible collision when another aircraft is on-board. However, if the devices malfunction and are ignored, an accident might happen.
Unpredictable weather like freezing ice storms, lightning, thunderstorms, and a gust of wind can affect both small or large airplanes. Before an aircraft can fly in freezing weather, they are required to have a forward-looking radar, an on-board wind-shear detector that can fail to work as expected.
There are a lot of people who are involved in flying a plane. Such professionals include ground crew flight attendants, air traffic controllers, maintenance technicians, and the airplane crew as well. All these people receive detailed training from the FAA and go through a rigorous certification process as well. However, any errors that these people might bring along in their services might go a long way into creating an accident.
Although pilots are part of the human error, they play a significant role in any airplane accident. There are a couple of factors that can make a pilot cause a disaster, such as failing to consider the recommended flight time and misjudging a situation.
Liability in Airplane Accidents
An airplane accident victim suffers catastrophic injuries and can lead to a long-lasting effect on the people who are close to the victims. In that case, it is recommendable to identify the at-fault parties so that you can hold them liable for the accident. Here is a detailed view of the possible at-fault party in a plane accident.
The pilot operating the aircraft seems to carry the lion’s share in any aircraft accident. Pilots take the most substantial blame since they are in charge of operating airplanes, and their negligence might cause an accident. For instance, if they fail to listen to the information provided by the weather control or air control, report noticeable mechanical issues, or fail to adhere to the pre-flight checklist requirements, these factors will be enough to hold the pilot responsible for the accident.
The Airplane Owner
The airplane owner falls second in place when it comes to taking responsibility for an airplane accident. They need to maintain the airplane, which they might neglect under certain circumstances. For instance, if the plane is high on demand, the owner might ignore the aircraft’s maintenance checks to take advantage of the air-travel demand.
Other than the airplane owner, there might be a middleman who operates the plane on behalf of its owner. Such people include an airline company which leases planes from their owner for their use. Such people can also be held responsible since they assume full responsibility for the aircraft, just like the owner. Their negligence, such as failing to maintain the plane as required and taking responsibility for their duties to their pilots, can be a significant cause of an accident.
Maintenance or Repair Facilities
There are specific instructions that a plane maintenance facility or expert must consider as provided by the Federal Aviation Administration. If the maintenance experts fail to maintain these requirements, issues might arise from the plane leading to an accident. For your attorney to prove that the accident was a result of maintenance flaws, one must go through the repair logs and check any negligence or assumption that could have led to the accident.
Airplane or Airplane Parts Manufacturers
Airplane manufacturers or parts manufacturers play a significant role in maintaining the safety capacity of a plane. If such entities make any errors in their manufacture, then they should be held responsible for any accident involving their aircraft or parts. So, when an attorney wants to prove whether both parties are responsible for an accident, a thorough review of the manufacturing process and certification must be considered.
The Federal Government
The air traffic control has the responsibility of guiding a plane through the national and international spaces. For instance, weather specialists are expected to provide information about the weather and whether the pilot should avoid flying or not. Therefore, if any air traffic control entity fails to execute its mandate as expected, this might lead to a plane accident. This translates to liability on the government since their responsibility is related to them.
Type of Catastrophic Injuries Sustained in an Airplane Accident
Catastrophic injuries can be legally explained as any kind of injury that has the direct and close consequences that can prevent one from performing any kind of productive work. This can be simplified to a severe injury that affects a victim and leaves him or her with permanent damage. There are several types of catastrophic injuries that one can suffer after an airplane accident. These injuries are as follows:
Spinal Cord Injury
This kind of damage involves the spinal cord. It can cause both temporary and permanent changes to the victim. Some of the changes that the victim might experience include loss of muscle functioning, sensation, and autonomic function of the body. The victim might experience short term effects such as incontinence, numbness, and paralysis, while the long-term effects include tetraplegia, paraplegia, pressure sores, breathing problems, and muscle atrophy. All these depend on the severity of the injury and the location along the spinal cord.
Loss of Hearing or Sight
A plane accident can result in hearing and sight loss to the respective victim. Both temporary and permanent injury characterizes hearing loss. A minor hearing loss is explained by the failure to hear any sound unless it is amplified. On the other hand, permanent or profound deafness is characterized by the lack of hearing anything at all.
There are two main types of hearing loss, which include sensorineural loss or conductive loss. Sensorineural hearing loss involves injuring the nerves and damaging the inner ear. With conductive hearing loss, the victim experiences malfunctioning of the eardrum, which makes the sound waves from being transmitted correctly or as a result of the damage of the inner ear. It is easy to treat conductive hearing loss. Sensorineural is permanent.
People who face facial injuries experience a lot of pain and might require extensive medical intervention. Medication includes reconstructive procedures from professional plastic surgery. Also, facial injuries might leave a permanent scar on the face, which will affect your appearance for the rest of your years.
There are different types of facial injuries that one can suffer. They include bone fracture, burn injuries, eye injuries, soft tissue injuries, laceration, and facial deformation. Any airplane accident victim facing these sorts of injuries should seek compensation to undertake the right medical intervention.
Paralysis is one of the effects that result from spinal cord injuries. Symptoms might display themselves from one side of the body to both sides. They include symptoms such as:
- Breathing difficulty
- Passing out and remaining unresponsive
- Memory loss and
- Lack of muscle coordination
There are different types of paralysis, depending on the symptoms. They can be classified as temporary or permanent. It can also be classified as complete or incomplete. In that case, paralysis falls under a couple of categories. This includes quadriplegia, which involves paralysis of the lower part of the body. It also includes quadriplegia, which means injuries on the first thoracic spinal nerve and anywhere else on the neck of the victim.
Most airplane crash survivors end up experiencing neurological disorders. This results from head damage, which leads to trauma. In most cases, neurological dysfunction is associated with traumatic brain injury. Such injuries cause balancing problems, numbness of the hand and legs, and memory loss. A professional personal injury attorney should assess such conditions to determine its extent and determine how much you should be compensated.
Amputation involves the complete removal of a limb due to external trauma or due to a medical emergency such as bacterial infection. Amputation falls under injuries that causes disfigurement and requires lifetime rehabilitation. In that case, the respective victim should seek compensation for the pain and suffering that result from amputation and the lifetime rehabilitation that one needs.
Damages in an Airplane Accident
Once your attorney has proven negligence on the part of the at-fault parties, he or she can continue into establishing the damages that the victim can claim. Damages include a sum of money claimed by the victim as a form of compensation for a loss or injury.
Recoverable Damages in a personal injury lawsuit are broken into two, which includes compensatory and punitive damages.
In this category of damages, the injured party is financially reimbursed and makes him or her whole again. No amount of money can replace the kind of injuries sustained in an airplane accident. Still, the court usually awards some sort of compensation to the victim in the form of compensatory damages.
There are two sub-categories in compensatory damages. These sub-types include economic and non-economic damages.
As the name suggests, economic damages are damages that one can put a monetary value on. They are easy to calculate and decide on a particular financial amount. These kinds of damage include:
- Medical treatment, which consists of the past, present, and future treatment and medical care. It consists of a total of all healthcare expenses, pharmacy expenses, therapy, and doctor’s bill
- Income loss, which involves compensation for worker wages and money you could have managed to earn in the future. This depends on your earning capacity
- Property loss that involves any personal item that could have been lost or damaged during the airplane accident
- Legal fees, which include lawyer fees, missed time at work, travel costs, and other related expenses
These are the kinds of damages one cannot place a financial value on. However, the court finds it necessary to award a victim with this sort of damages to compensate for the losses that one suffers from the accident. Some of the examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment
- Physical impairment
- Emotional distress
There is no distinct formula that is used to determine non-economic losses. However, many factors can help the attorney or court can use to determine the amount that one needs to be compensated. This includes the extent of the injuries, preexisting lifestyle, and the type of work that one was involved in before the accident.
Punitive damages are recoverable costs that are used sparingly to punish the offender for negligent actions that lead to an accident. It is not common to have a court award a victim with this sort of damage, but if it happens, the victim will end up with a large sum of money as compensation.
For an attorney to claim this sort of damage, he or she must prove to the court that the at-fault party did something negligently with the ultimate disregard of the safety and rights of protection of the airplane occupants. For instance, if the airplane part manufacturer notices something that might lead to a fatal accident but fails to handle the problem, such a behavior can be classified as willful and gross negligence and stands to be charged with punitive damages.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California Aviation Accident
In California, a wrongful death lawsuit is brought to court when a victim dies as a result of negligence or wrongful act of a particular person or entity. The wrongful death lawsuit is brought forward by the surviving members of the deceased person. This includes:
- Surviving spouse
- Domestic partner
- Surviving children
- Anyone entitled to the deceased’s estate, such as putative spouse and kids, stepchildren, and parents
There are a couple of damages that are available in a wrongful death lawsuit. The surviving members of the victim can claim losses such as:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Treatment expenses that the deceased could have incurred during illness or through the injuries
- The deceased lost income
There are also other types of losses that are attributed to the surviving family members. These losses include:
- Household services
- Anticipated financial support and
- Loss of attention, affection, moral support, guidance, and love
Statute of Limitations in California Airplane Accident Case
A statute of limitations is a law that establishes a timeline that a person can bring a case to court. Once the deadline is over, the court usually dismisses the case without any hearing. In a personal injury lawsuit, the time in the statute of limitations begins the moment the injury occurs. The court also considers such a case the moment the injuries have been discovered.
Under the California Code of Civil Procedure 335.1, California courts allow two years to any injured party following any type of accident to file a lawsuit. Therefore, if you are involved in an aviation accident, you have two years to file the case if you want it heard by the court.
However, there are exceptional cases that can delay the timeline provided. For instance, if you are involved in a medical helicopter accident, you can consider the accident as medical malpractice, which has a three-year statute of limitations. A victim can decide on this kind of consideration only if he or she took more than two years needed in filing an aviation accident.
Other factors that might lead to delay in the statute of limitations include:
- Failure to discover the injuries on time
- If the injured party was under 18 years or was not in a capacity to make decisions such as being in a comma
- If the at-fault party left the state after the accident and before you could file the lawsuit
Find a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Aviation accidents can be complex to handle based on the kind of considerations that one has to make and the level of complexity that aviation laws have. You can get the right compensation you deserve by involving an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney. We at The LA Personal Injury Law Firm offers credible personal injury services when it comes to airplane accidents. Contact us today at 310-935-0089 and schedule a consultation with us.