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U.S. Aviation Accidents Law Blog

Who is liable for commercial airline accidents?

Commercial airplane accidents can be devastating. If they do not result in complete loss, they often result in severe personal injury and extensive financial damages. If you or a loved one was injured in a commercial airplane accident in New York, you may have several questions, one of which, who is liable for your damages?

Determining liability in these types of accidents is important for several reasons. On the one hand, it helps victims and their family members know who to sue for compensation for damages such as medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and other harms. On the other, it helps airlines and regulators better understand what went wrong to cause the accident and what they can do to prevent crashes in the future.

What are the 4 types of liability in a products liability case?

When you decide to file an aircraft products liability lawsuit in New York, you will need to discuss with your attorney the legal theory or theories under which you should bring your case.

As FindLaw explains, you generally have four choices as follows:

  1. Negligence
  2. Strict liability
  3. Warranty
  4. Tortious misrepresentation

Is it safe for you to fly on a small, private airplane?

If you have received an invitation to take a smaller, private aircraft on an expedition in New York, you may be excited about the opportunity to have a customized flying experience. While flying on private aircraft is a unique experience, it is essential that you understand the risks of your decision as well so you can be confident in choosing to participate or not. 

According to The New York Times, a majority of airline accidents happen in the general aviation category which usually excludes larger carriers. This sector includes both larger, corporate jets to smaller, private aircraft. When compared with commercial aviation, the general aviation carriers experience a much higher percentage of accidents. Research indicates that the number one cause of general aviation accidents is an error made by the pilot and the primary contributing factor to these accidents is inclement weather. When you are preparing to ride on a private airplane, it is crucial that you assess your decision by making sure you have adequate information beforehand. 

Airline deaths soar more than 900 percent in 2018

When you board an airplane in New York or another part of the nation or world, you probably feel relatively confident that you will land in your final destination without facing too much trouble. The past year was a particularly tough one for airplane passengers, however, with worldwide airline fatalities reaching their highest number since 2014. At Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, we recognize that airplane crashes frequently have catastrophic results, and we have helped many people who lost loved ones in airplane crashes pursue appropriate recourse in the aftermath.

According to Forbes, 555 people lost their lives in 16 plane crashes as of Dec. 27, 2018, which is a more than 900-percent increase over the year prior. In 2017, which some dubbed, "the safest year ever," 59 people lost their lives in plane crashes. As for what is responsible for the uptick in this year's plane fatalities, the answer is not entirely clear.

Regular inspections of aircraft are critical

Whether you are boarding a commercial aircraft or flying your own small airplane, you trust that all of the parts of the plane are in good working order. Aircraft parts are designed to withstand tremendous amounts of pressure, high stress loads and variances in temperature. When all of the parts are not working together, however, it could be recipe for disaster. Aircraft collisions and crashes could be due to airplane defects or design wear and tear in different parts of the plane. These include:

  •          Navigation system
  •          Rudder and stabilizers
  •          Wing and propeller components
  •          Engine, controls and fuel tank
  •          Landing gear, brake system and wheels

Regular inspections of aircraft are critical to ensure everything is in good working order before and after take-off. Inspections are the responsibility of ground maintenance crews, pilots, mechanics, maintainers and manufacturers, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. There are different routine schedules, depending on the type of plane and what it is used for. For example, general aviation aircrafts require an inspection annually. Aircrafts that carry people, other than a crew member, or are giving flight instruction must be inspected once every 100 hours of flight time.

What is the FAA's responsibility when a plane crashes?

If you are like most New Yorkers, you probably think that the Federal Aviation Administration conducts an investigation every time a plane crashes. Actually, this is not the case.

As the FAA itself explains, the National Transportation Safety Board, an independent U.S. governmental agency, is the one tasked with investigating aviation accidents, disasters and incidents. The FAA has considerably different responsibilities.

International airlines cracking down on alcohol-abusing pilots

International travelers and safety analysts across New York and the nation are becoming increasingly concerned about alcohol abuse among pilots in the wake of a recent incident involving a pilot on a popular Japanese airline. At Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, we recognize that substance-abusing pilots endanger everyone on board their aircraft, and we have helped many clients who suffered injury because of a pilot's negligence pursue appropriate recourse.

According to Newsweek, the most recent highly publicized incident involving intoxicated pilots centered around a Japanese Airlines co-pilot who tried to enter the cockpit and fly despite having a blood-alcohol content that was more than nine times the legal limit. When others on the aircraft tried to prevent the co-pilot from flying, he told them he had already passed a Breathalyzer, but other airline workers later caught him using mouthwash in an attempt to hide the smell of alcohol from his breath.

Latest international crash reveals problem with Boeing planes

Travelers planning commercial flights to or from New York or anywhere else in the country should check to see if the plane they will be flying on is a Boeing 737 Max 8. If so, they may wish to take a different flight.

As reported by the New York Post, the latest international aviation accident, which occurred on October 29, 2018, involved the crash of an Indonesian airliner owned and operated by Lion Air. The plane was a Boeing 737 Max 8 that crashed into the Java Sea after only an 11-minute flight. All 189 people onboard, including 181 passengers and a crew of eight, died in the crash.

Lack of training may be to blame for aircraft accident

When people board a commercial flight, they assume the pilots flying the aircraft fully understand how to operate all of the controls. Safety devices designed to minimize the risk of aircraft failure are continually being updated. What happens, however, when pilots are not properly educated on how these safety devices work and what to do in a case where they malfunction?

Sadly, the crew and passengers aboard Indonesia's Lion Air Flight 610 found out when their plane went down into the Java Sea on October 29. The aircraft was recognized as being one of the newest and safest planes. A new automated anti-stall feature was implemented into the aircraft, but pilots were not told how the system worked or what action to take if it should fail during flight. An AOA sensor attached to the safety system was said to be generating erroneous input, which may have caused the accident. Aircraft maintenance technicians were looking into the problem and had just recently replace the AOA sensor. In fact, the maintenance worker was onboard the flight at the time the accident occurred. Regardless of the replacement, the system failed. The pilots were unsure of how to handle the issue and all lives on the craft were lost.

#MeToo movement also includes experiences on commercial flights

Many travelers from New York and elsewhere understand that they might have an unpleasant experience when they fly, which could range from lost luggage to unexpected delays. However, they may not anticipate the possibility of being assaulted on an airplane. Whether a person is a passenger or an airline employee, nobody should experience sexual assault or harassment on a flight.

Sexual harassment on a plane includes lewd comments, unwanted touching, inappropriate propositions and forceful physical attacks of a sexual nature. In a survey by the Association of Flight Attendants, nearly one out of every five flight attendants said they witnessed a passenger's sexual assault or were harassed or assaulted themselves. A report from NPR states that incidents of sexual harassment and assault on airplanes are increasing, and authorities believe incidents may be greatly underreported. Inadequate training and a lack of knowledge on how to handle incidents in the air and report them to the proper authorities may be partially to blame.

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