In 2016, the NTSB summarized the U.S. Civil Aviation accidents for the year, determining there were a total of 1335 aviation accidents during the year, with 408 fatalities. According to Inc.com, 2018 was one of the deadliest years for aviation accidents. In 2017, there were 13 people who died in commercial airline accidents, while in 2018, that number jumped to 534. There were 48 airplane accidents in 2017, but 160 in 2018. These 2017 and 2018 numbers excluded military flights, training flights, private flights and helicopter flights.
Many may remember the Southwest Airlines flight from New York to Dallas when the plane partially disintegrated, pulling a passenger partially out of the window. This was the first death on a Southwest Airlines plane due to an in-flight accident in the history of the company. There were a number of international airplane crashes as well, including a Lion Boeing 737 which went down in the Java Sea, killing all 189 people on board, and a Global Air/Cubana airplane which crashed after takeoff from Havana, Cuba.
According to the FAA, the primary causes of fatal aviation accidents include: inflight loss of control, flight into terrain, system component failure, fuel-related, midair collisions and low-altitude operations. Aviation accidents often have catastrophic consequences, including death and the type of injuries which can alter lives forever. Because there are complex litigation rules associated with air travel, it can be difficult for victims of aviation accidents to receive equitable compensation for their losses.
By their very nature, airplane and aviation industry accidents can causes some of the most devastating tragedies imaginable, and while airplane accidents are relatively rare, they do occur, whether with large commercial airlines, private and charter airplanes or helicopters. In addition to a plane crash, there can also be injuries to passengers inside the plane as well as events on and around the tarmac which can lead to injuries or death. In an aviation accident the cause must be established, and then negligence determined.
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Commercial Airplane Crashes and Accidents
Design and product defects, negligent maintenance, avionics malfunctions, pilot error, air traffic control errors, and engine and flight control failure are all hazards which can cause an airplane crash. Commercial airplane crashes can be truly terrifying for all those involved. All aspects of the case must be thoroughly investigated including in-flight airline injuries, airport premises liability, catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths. A commercial airplane crash or commercial airplane accident could be the result of any of the following:
- Instrument failure
- Defective landing gear
- Mechanical failure
- Pilot error
- Fuel mismanagement
- Inadequate pilot training
- Mid-air collisions
- Bad weather
- Improper airplane maintenance
- Medical issues
- Airplane design defects
Survivors of a commercial airplane accident or family members of a loved one who was killed in a commercial airplane accident need expert help and need it quickly. It is important to seek experienced legal help following a commercial airplane crash or accident.
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Private Plane Crashes and Accidents
The majority of aircraft accidents occur in small or private airplanes and helicopters rather than large commercial airplanes, however when a large commercial airplane crashes, there are many more casualties. In 1984 the landmark case of Guanere et al v. Cessna ended in a verdict against Cessna of $29 million dollars after it was shown that a defective airplane part caused the crash, and that the defective part had been installed in 175,000 small airplanes. Some of the most challenging litigation problems can occur in private plane crashes. Federal legislation like the General Aviation Revitalization Act protects aircraft manufacturers from product liability claims on planes which are more than 18 years old. A further problem can be insurance coverage as many small plane pilots either have little or no insurance and flying clubs, maintenance facilities and even flight schools may carry only minimal coverage.
Unfortunately, federal regulations are far less strenuous for small planes than for commercial planes which can present steep challenges to those bringing a lawsuit. Once a small plane accident occurs, the NTSB immediately takes custody of the wreckage which can make a lawsuit extremely challenging. Small planes may not have flight data recorders (black boxes) which can help investigators determine what caused the crash, and because there are so many crashes the NTSB has to investigate it can take two years or more for them to publish their findings. Since most states have a two-year statute of limitations for a personal injury or wrongful death claim, this can make it extremely difficult for those injured in a
Helicopter Crashes and Accidents
Many vacation spots offer helicopter tours as a means of seeing the destination from a unique perspective. Many athletes, government officials, celebrities, executives and musicians also use helicopters to get from one place to another quickly when traveling a relatively short distance. During a medical emergency, patients are often transported to medical facilities by a medical helicopter, and even offshore oil workers commonly use helicopters to get to job sites. Compared to a commercial airplane or a small private plane, helicopters have a much higher risk of crashing or having an accident as they are more vulnerable to bad weather and can be more difficult to handle than an airplane for new pilots. In fact, aircraft accidents for both medical transport helicopters and sightseeing helicopters are occurring at an increased frequency.
Getting the Legal Help You Need Following an Aviation Accident
There are very few things more terrifying than being injured in a plane crash. When we board an airplane, we assume the pilot is qualified, the plane is safe, and that we will arrive at our destination safely and efficiently. When an airplane accident does occur, there are usually more questions than answers. A commercial airline is considered a common carrier, therefore required to maintain a strict standard of care toward passengers. A private pilot, on the other hand is held to common negligence standards which require due diligence and reasonable care to prevent accidents and injuries.
That being said, private pilots are expected to possess knowledge and skills equal to those of a commercial pilot and the actions of a private pilot will be compared to how a “reasonable” pilot would have acted under the same circumstances. Because an aviation accident can leave catastrophic injuries or death in its wake and due to the complexity of aviation accidents, it is extremely beneficial to have an experienced Mississippi personal injury attorney by your side following an aviation accident.
Contact Our Jackson Aviation Accident Lawyers
If you are injured in an aviation accident in Jackson, Hattiesburg, Meridian, or anywhere in the State of Mississippi, the best thing you can do is to contact an experienced Mississippi aviation accident attorney who will protect your rights and assist you in receiving a fair settlement for your injuries.
At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys believe in fighting aggressively for injured Mississippi airplane and aircraft accident victims – to ensure that they receive the money they need to fully recover. We can help you obtain the money you need to fully recover. Contact Coxwell & Associates today at (601) 265-7766.