Aviation accidents are rare, but when they happen, they often cause serious — and sometimes fatal — injuries. Safety features on airplanes and helicopters make crashes rare, but they are never inevitable. Human error, such as not reading flight instruments correctly or flying while inebriated, can be the cause of these wrecks. In other cases, unavoidable natural causes like a sudden storm or birds striking the engines can cause aircraft to crash.
No matter the cause, if you or a loved one is injured in an aviation accident, the following legal process will be extremely complicated. Many different organizations and parties may be involved in the legal proceedings, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), representatives from the airline, the manufacturer of the aircraft, and many more.
Even if you suffer only minor injuries due to the crash, you may face a long road of recovery due to psychological trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. If you suffer major injuries, you may find yourself unable to work or live your life in the way you once enjoyed. Worse, if your loved one is killed in such an accident, funeral costs and other end-of-life expenses can quickly add up.
At Auger & Auger, we’ve seen the devastating effects of aviation accidents. Even emergency landings that seem minor can lead to serious injuries, especially if it’s a small plane or helicopter. If you have been hurt in a plane or helicopter accident in the Carolinas, you have legal options. Give our aviation accident lawyers a call at (800) 559-5741 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation today.
According to the FAA, there were 108 aviation accidents in 2016. Of those, there were 17 fatal accidents, resulting in 29 total fatalities. While 108 accidents is too many, the number of accidents has steadily dropped since 2013, as has the rate of accidents per 100,000 flight hours.
About 25 percent of all of these accidents over the past five years have been caused by either experimental or amateur-built aircraft. Other common causes of aviation accidents include:
Of course, these are all related to pilot error or bad weather. But in some instances, aviation accidents in North or South Carolina happen because of a manufacturer’s defect in the plane or helicopter itself. When this happens, the legal notion of “strict liability” can come into play. Under strict liability law, the manufacturer or the aircraft can be sued for product defects, regardless of how the aircraft was being piloted at the time.
In order to seek compensation under strict liability laws, you must be able to prove that:
That means you don’t have to prove the pilot was acting negligently in order to sue the manufacturer for the accident.
While strict liability is enacted in nearly every state, including South Carolina, it is not enacted in North Carolina. In order to seek compensation for injuries after an aviation accident in North Carolina caused by a defect in the plane, you must prove that the pilot or the manufacturer acted negligently.
Passenger aircraft, such as commercial airplanes, are considered “common carriers.” They offer services to the public for a fee, operating under a regulatory body (in this instance, the FAA and the NTSB). These governing bodies enforce certain safety regulations, and common carriers are required to exercise the highest degree of care for their passengers.
If the pilot fails to follow regulations set forth, and injuries occur because of this failure, they and the airline may be held liable under common carrier laws. For example, if the pilot is aware that rough air is ahead and there will be turbulence, but they don’t turn on the seat belt sign, they may be held liable if that turbulence causes a passenger to become injured.
In order to seek compensation after a common carrier accident, you must be able to show the pilot or airline acted negligently. In general, there are four elements of negligence as it pertains to aviation accidents:
As you can see, taking legal action against an airline or pilot after an aviation accident can be extremely complicated. It doesn’t help that airlines and other transportation groups have their own lawyers and insurance companies — and those insurance companies have their own team of lawyers. The airline’s lawyers will do everything they can to show their client wasn’t at fault for the accident, and the insurance company will do whatever it takes to avoid paying out what you deserve.
After you’ve been injured or your loved one has been killed, you will likely receive a settlement offer from the insurance company. Because insurance companies are a business, they will likely lowball your offer in hopes that you take it. After all, if you don’t, who knows if you will get better compensation, and if you do, just how long will that process take?
Don’t fall for the insurance company’s tactics. As soon as you accept their settlement offer, you forfeit your right to seek greater compensation. Instead, call the aviation accident attorneys at Auger & Auger for a free consultation as soon as you receive your offer.
Our experienced lawyers will evaluate your case and help you determine the best legal path forward. If we believe the settlement offer is fair, we’ll let you know. However, if we believe we can get you greater compensation, we’ll let you know that too. When we take on your case, rest assured that you won’t owe us a dime unless we win.
If you have been injured in a plane or helicopter accident in North or South Carolina, you have legal rights. Give our aviation accident lawyers a call at (800) 559-5741 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation today.