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Aviation accidents and strict liability

At Kreindler & Kreindler, LLP, in New York, we understand that a plane crash may be the type of accident you most fear. Whether the crash involves a sightseeing helicopter, a private plane or a huge commercial jet, your life is at stake in any kind of aviation accident.

While pilot error often contributes to an aviation accident, a failure or malfunction of the plane's mechanical or electrical systems sometimes causes it to behave in dangerous ways. In addition, one or more of the plane's component parts can fail or malfunction, causing or contributing to the crash. When such is the case, FindLaw explains that the doctrine of strict liability holds the plane's manufacturer and/or the manufacturer of a failed or malfunctioning part legally responsible for any injuries or deaths suffered by the crew or passengers.

Personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits

Under strict liability, when you sue a plane or component part manufacturer for personal injury or the death of a loved one in a plane crash, you do not have to prove that the defendant acted negligently. Rather, the fact that the plane crashed proves that someone had to be negligent in its manufacture or sale.

Types of strict liability

To prevail in a strict liability suit against a plane's manufacturer or seller, you must prove the following:

  • That the plane or its component part was defective when it left the manufacturer or distributor
  • That the pilot used the plane in a reasonably foreseeable manner
  • That the plane caused your injury or your loved one's death

The plane's defect can be that of its design, manufacture or failure to warn of potential hazards.

Types of defects

To prove design defect, you must prove that the plane and others of the same model are inherently dangerous because of their poor design. The same holds true for a defective part.

To prove manufacturing defect, you must prove that although the plane or its part was properly designed, this particular plane or part was defective due to something that happened during its manufacture. For instance, maybe the manufacturer used one or more substandard materials or improperly assembled the plane or its component parts.

To prove a failure to warn defect, you must prove that the manufacturer or seller improperly instructed the pilot on how to operate the plane and each of its component parts. Or you must prove that the manufacturer or seller failed to sufficiently warn about dangers that the (s)he knew or should have known about and fixed prior to the plane's sale.

For more information on this subject, please visit this page of our website. 


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