If you or a loved one are injured or killed in a commercial airplane crash, accident on board the airplane or when getting on board or getting off, you are now in a very highly specialized and complicated area of the law.
It is critical that you immediately contact and consult with an attorney who is experienced, knowledgeable, and specializes in aviation litigation. Because crashes happen all over the world, most attorneys who do so, are not limited to just the state in which their office might be located. They handle cases throughout the world and will come to you to discuss your rights.
Don’t just talk to a friend who happens to be an attorney, more than likely they will not have any understanding what is involved and how to proceed.
If the plane crash happens, the passengers on board may be either flying only within the United States or are on an international trip. It depends upon what trip the individual passenger might be taking at the time. The law is different depending upon which status you or your loved one was in at the time. The basic criteria is where is the trip going and what is its ultimate final destination.
If it is an international travel, international law agreed to by the United States in what is commonly known as the Montréal protocol, defines how the airline might be sued and what laws govern the manner of recovery. On the other hand, if it is a domestic flight the laws of negligence and product liability apply as defined under the federal aviation regulations as well as various state laws that might be applicable.
Primarily the airline is responsible for your safe passage since they are what is called a common carrier. A common carrier has a duty to utilize the utmost care in your safety and passage. Any small amount of carelessness will constitute negligence. Objects falling from the overhead compartments, flight attendants spilling hot coffee on you or even fellow passengers committing assaults are the responsibility of the airline.
However, whether you are on board an international trip or a domestic one, the manufacturer of the airplane may also be at fault for negligence design or product defect. That manufacturer also may be responsible and participate in compensating you for the damages you have suffered.
Outside maintenance facilities, manufacturers of parts utilizing in the airplane and a whole subsection of participants in the manufacturing and operation of the aircraft may also be liable.
The United States government and or the government of another country may likewise be liable for failure of their air traffic controllers to properly direct the airplane to a safe landing. If they allow a midair collision, or direct the airplane into a mountain or other possibilities, they will also be liable. Sometimes the air traffic controllers fall sleep or are not vigilant and allow a crash to take place when they could have prevented it.
Also, if the flight crashed in the open ocean, any lawsuit will be governed by what is called Death on the High seas Act which has a specific set of laws applicable to liability and the damages that may be recovered by you. Your lawsuit would have to be brought in federal District Court and not in a state court in that situation.
In today’s environment, the possibility of sabotage through bombing or hijacking also raises the question of negligence by the security screening at airports as well as precautions taken by the airlines. Skilled investigation is necessary to determine who is responsible for the injuries that have been suffered.
In a major plane crash disaster, unfortunately many people may be killed or injured. You’ll probably be overwhelmed by the number of attorneys who say that they represent others on board and want you to sign up with them. Don’t be fooled. Each person is entitled to their individual representation by a skilled attorney specializing in aviation litigation. The 1st criteria is are they skilled and experienced in aviation litigation and then do they represent others so that as a group you will get effective prosecution of your case.