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Information Center: Airplane Accidents and Injuries

Approximately 20 emergency landings are made by U.S. commercial airlines every month

Our Phoenix-based law firm is dedicated to providing cost-effective, practical solutions to aviation disputes, including aviation accidents. In recognition of the efficient, effective and ethical service we deliver, our firm has received the AV® Peer Review Rating*.

We are a large, resourceful law firm, employing talented, energized and innovative attorneys who have the skills to represent the interests of anyone involved in an aviation accident throughout the United States. We're pilots and aviation enthusiasts too, and you can rest assured that we understand aviation.

We represent individuals, aircraft owners, pilots, passengers, survivors, repair stations, FBOs, and others who may be involved, directly or remotely, in an aviation accident. Our lawyers will always evaluate all the facts and considerations, and will work with our clients to keep them informed, to meet their objectives, and to serve them in an efficient, cost-effective path to resolving disputes arising out of aviation accidents. For experienced aviation lawyers, contact Mark G. Worischeck or call us at (602) 532-5600.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Airplane Accidents and Injuries

Q: Who can be held responsible to the injured parties in an air crash?

A: Potentially liable parties vary depending on the cause of the accident. The owner and operator of the aircraft certainly may be liable. Manufacturers or maintenance suppliers may be liable in certain circumstances. An experienced aviation attorney is essential in identifying all possible claims and defendants.

Q: Can the owner/operator be held criminally liable?

A: Both the federal government and individual states can impose criminal sanctions in cases involving aviation. Although the classifications and details may vary between them, most states impose criminal sanctions on aviators for reckless conduct that leads to injury, death or property damage. The difficulty in prosecuting these cases lies in differentiating between cases of negligence and mere accidents.

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Airplane Accidents and Injuries - An Overview

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), air travel is expected to double over the next 20 years. As air traffic increases, so does the risk of an aviation accident. Generally, air travel is considered to be a safe means of transportation, but when accidents do occur, they often result in fatalities. Smaller, less serious accidents involving private aircraft are more frequent than people realize, because most of those incidents are unreported.

Potentially liable (legally responsible) parties vary depending on the cause of the accident. The owner and operator of the aircraft certainly may be liable, manufacturers or maintenance suppliers may be liable in certain circumstances, and even the federal government may bear some responsibility in an aircraft accident.

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Strict Liability in Aviation Accidents

While pilot error usually plays a part in aircraft accidents, problems with the aircraft or its component parts may contribute to the accident or the severity of injuries suffered. In those cases, the manufacturer of the aircraft, or the manufacturer of a component part, may share the legal blame with pilots for the crashes or for the injuries the accident caused under the legal theory of strict liability.

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Criminal Liability in Aviation Accidents

In addition to a civil claim against individuals or entities for causing an aviation accident, the government may also pursue criminal sanctions. Both the federal government and individual states can impose criminal sanctions in cases involving aviation. Although the classifications and details may vary between them, most states impose criminal sanctions on aviators for reckless conduct that leads to injury, death or property damage.

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Aviation Safety Tips

The severity of injuries suffered in a serious aviation accident depends on many factors. Most people assume there isn't very much an individual can do to protect themselves. However, there are some general safety tips to follow when you travel by air.

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Settlements and Damages In Wrongful Death Cases

Wrongful death actions can be very complicated, as the wrongful acts of several parties may have contributed to an individual's death. Pretrial settlements involving a single defendant are common in wrongful death cases, because many defendants want to avoid the publicity associated with having been found liable for someone's death. When such out-of-court settlements occur, a reduction of the wrongful death damages award issued by a judge or jury will also occur should the remainder of the defendants proceed to trial.

Thus, if a plaintiff settles a claim against one defendant, the plaintiff's recovery from any other defendant is thereby reduced. Additionally, the plaintiff's release of one defendant frees that defendant from liability to contribute to any other defendant, and waives his/her claim for any contribution from co-defendants. In other words, the released defendant is out of the action, and the remaining defendant(s) will pay no more than their comparative share of the culpable conduct as found by the jury.

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Airplane Accidents and Injuries Resource Links

Department of Transportation (DOT) Aviation Consumer Protection Division
The DOT Aviation Consumer Protection Division oversees consumer issues related to air travel.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
The FAA is responsible for ensuring that the manufacture, operation and maintenance of all aircraft meet minimum standards and current regulations.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
The NTSB is responsible for improving air travel safety by investigating all aviation accidents and recommending changes.

Airlines for America
Airlines for America represents the industry on major aviation issues before Congress, federal agencies, state legislatures and other governmental bodies to promote safety by coordinating industry and government safety programs.

AirSafety.com
This site, provided by John Eakin Air Data Research, has a large library of air safety data, as well as links to numerous domestic and foreign resources and transportation safety agencies.

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