Airplane accidents often come with devastating consequences, both in terms of injuries/fatalities and in terms of property damage sustained at the crash site. Because of the scale of legal action that must occur after an airplane accident, it can take some time to determine the cause of the crash and the party that was liable for it. However, it is possible, and upon determining liability, people who have suffered or who lost relatives in an airplane accident can recover compensation.
Liability varies based on cause of the accident
The liability for an airplane accident depends most heavily on the kind of accident that occurred and what caused it. Here are just a few examples of some of the most common causes of airplane accidents:
- Pilot/air traffic control error: If pilots do not safely control the plane or follow other safety protocols, that could result in an accident, as could the failure of air traffic controllers to provide proper communications about changes in conditions.
- Miscommunication: Simple miscommunication can result in tragedy, especially when severe weather occurs. Airline staff and pilots must regularly check in with control towers and be prepared for circumstances to change.
- Mechanical failure: There are many possible mechanical failures that could occur during a flight, and many of those are preventable. A failure to perform the proper pre-trip inspections could result in an airline being held accountable for accidents.
- Faulty plane design: Plane manufacturers are responsible for creating inherently safe plane designs and avoiding the use of defective parts. A flawed design could make a plane more likely to crash.
- Lack of crew preparation: Flight crew must be properly trained for emergency situations. A failure by an airline to do so could result in the airline being liable for any injuries or fatalities that occur in an accident.
Airlines are most commonly found to be the liable party for crashes and injuries/fatalities that result from them. Even if the plane accident was caused by pilot error or by a failure of specific employees during a pre-trip inspection, the legal principal of vicarious liability indicates that the actions of the employee are, in essence, the same as those of the employer, making the airline liable for any actions committed by employees in the scope of their job duties.
Airlines also have a higher duty of care to passengers because they are classified as common carriers. This makes them more susceptible to lawsuits than other types of companies and entities.
However, the manufacturers of planes or components can also be held liable when faulty designs or errors in the manufacturing process occur. Manufacturers are also responsible for providing proper warning to airlines and consumers about potential dangers associated with plane and component designs, and a failure to do so could also result in liability in an accident situation.
People who have been injured or lost loved ones in airplane accidents should take immediate legal action to seek a maximum compensatory recovery for their losses.
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