Keeping an eye out for updates on the June 25 float plane crash we were discussing in our last post, we were saddened and a little puzzled to see that another sightseeing plane had gone down in Alaska. This time, a Cessna 207 carrying four tourists crashed near Juneau. The four passengers were injured, two seriously. The pilot died.
Liability is a tricky thing. In its purest form, liability is fault, the quality of being accountable or responsible for a wrong. Depending on which state you live in, liability can be joint, several, vicarious, strict, contingent or derivative -- an impressive list, but by no means comprehensive. A person can be liable, and an enterprise can be liable. A product is said to be liable, but it is actually the designer or the manufacturer, sometimes even the seller that takes responsibility for the product.
We are continuing our discussion of what happened to a family whose house was destroyed when a Navy airplane crashed in the neighborhood. The pilot had ejected, and no one on the ground was seriously hurt. However, several houses were destroyed, and the residents lost everything.
Anyone who has been involved in legal wrangling with the government will understand what the people we have been talking about are going through. There are laws that dictate whether you can file a personal injury or premises liability lawsuit against an official or an agency. There are regulations that dictate just how, exactly, you go about filing a lawsuit if you do, really, have a viable claim. There must be unwritten rules, too, that require every interaction concerning government liability to be as frustrating as possible.
Late in the afternoon of June 4, 2014, the pilot of a Marine Corps Harrier jet ejected safely over a residential area of Imperial, California. His aircraft crashed not far away, destroying at least three homes and forcing the evacuation of five others. Remarkably, there were no injuries.
Our focus is primarily on civil matters here. We talk about victims suing aircraft manufacturers for damages; we talk about victims' families filing wrongful death claims against airlines. We seldom, if ever, discuss the criminal side of some aviation crashes, but we came across a compelling story this week that will change that.
Without going through a formal statistical analysis we cannot be certain, but it seems there have been an unusual number of train accidents lately. Cars stalled on tracks or straddling the tracks accidentally and trucks carrying oversized loads -- is this a real trend, or is it just that the two crashes in February triggered a newsroom feeding frenzy with every train-motor vehicle accident?
Stevie Ray Vaughan, Patsy Cline, Glenn Miller, John Denver -- the musicians and singers who have died in airplane crashes are a diverse group. The accidents themselves illustrate a number of risks associated with general aviation flights. They also have an important thing in common: Pilot error, investigators concluded, was responsible for the crashes.
What is it about celebrities and airplane crashes? There is something strangely compelling about the stories of singers, actors, even politicians killed in plane crashes, a friend of ours explains. She recently spent more than an hour at the website PlaneCrashInfo.com looking at the lists of strange and unusual accidents and accidents that killed famous people.
The website Distraction.gov has a motto of sorts: One-text or call could wreck it all. The site, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is a kind of one-stop-shop for information and data about distracted driving. There is a lot of information available, including the most recent statistics for distraction-related motor vehicle accidents. In 2012, 3,328 people died and about 421,000 people were injured in distracted driving accidents.