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Frequently Asked Questions about Airplane Accidents and Injuries

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

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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.

Q: What is the statute of repose?

A: In the context of aviation litigation, a "statute of repose" limits the time a lawsuit may be filed with regard to how long an airplane or part has been in service. The applicable time period varies depending on the jurisdiction.

Q: What is the FAA?

A: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the agency of the U.S. government with primary responsibility for the safety of civil aviation. It is separate from, and independent of, the NTSB.

Q: What is the NTSB?

A: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with investigating every civil aviation accident in the United States. Its jurisdiction also includes trains and other vehicle accidents as well. The NTSB also issues safety recommendations aimed at preventing future accidents. The NTSB maintains the government's database on civil aviation accidents and conducts special studies of transportation safety issues of national significance. The NTSB also provides investigators to serve as U.S. representatives in aviation accidents overseas involving U.S.-registered aircraft, aircraft or major components of U.S. manufacturers or where requested by foreign governments.

Q: What is GARA?

A: GARA, the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994, is a "statute of repose." GARA was designed to protect manufacturers of smaller, private aircraft (less than 20 seats) from liability for accidents involving older airplanes and/or parts. GARA bars lawsuits against the manufacturer of an aircraft or component part once that item has been in service for 18 years. GARA does not apply if the aircraft was engaged in scheduled passenger carrying or air medical services operations at the time of the accident.

Q: What are the most common causes of aircraft accidents?

A: The most common causes of aircraft accidents include:

  • Pilot errors - Pilots are responsible for transporting the plane's passengers from one destination to another. Pilots have a duty to follow air safety rules that have been outlined and created to better ensure the safety of everyone on board or else risk an aircraft accident.

  • Faulty equipment. Faulty equipment or even poorly maintained equipment can fail and cause an airplane to crash.

  • Violating FAA regulations. FAA laws exist to protect everyone using air travel. Violations of FAA regulations can endanger the safety of everybody in the air.

  • Structural or design problems with an aircraft.

  • Flight service station employee negligence.

  • Federal air traffic controllers' negligence.

  • Third party's carrier selection negligence.

  • Maintenance or repair of the aircraft or component negligence.

  • Fueling the aircraft negligence

Q: Do the same laws apply to commercial aircraft and private aircraft?

A: No. General aviation law applies to all aircraft other than those operated by airlines or the military. Commercial airlines and military carriers are subject to different legal standards.

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