In 2011, there were 3,120 aircraft accidents in the United States, 564 of which involved fatalities. Also in 2011, 979 fatalities resulted from those 564 flights and the chance of dying in one of them was nearly 98 percent.
What are your chances of being in a plane that crashes? Not as high as you would think. From 1950 through the 2000s, if you travel in one of the 39 safest major airlines in the world, your chances of being on a flight that involved at least one fatality is only 1 in 10 million. On the 39 airlines with the worst records, the chances were 1 in 1.5 million.
The odds are in our favor, but what about those whose luck has run out? What legal recourse do the injured parties have? If a person is injured, or dies, they or their family may file a lawsuit to recover damages from the responsible parties. Those parties can be:
• Aircraft’s owner
• Manufacturer of the aircraft and key parts
• Government, if air traffic controllers or the weather service is at fault
• Airport operators
Each accident must be investigated by several government agencies. In the U.S., those accident investigations take an average of two years. Once the investigators determine the accident cause and the appropriate blame, the defendants will be identified.
You can then apply for reparation and a lawsuit, if necessary. If you were injured, the defendant(s) must pay for past and future medical care, lost earnings and compensation for pain and suffering. A spouse may also be compensated for what is known as loss of consortium.
Don’t feel pressured to decide right away about the compensation claim. It is more important for you to attend to your immediate medical needs or to be there for mourning loved one. There is a statute of limitations for the claims, however.
It is recommended that families not talk directly with the responsible parties. A personal injury attorney who is qualified to represent you in an aircraft liability case has the experience and knowledge to represent individuals fairly and competently.
These attorneys work on a contingency basis, taking a percentage of the award after it is paid. The attorneys also pay all the up-front costs of putting together your case. You will not need to pay any money to the attorney up front if the accident is bad enough.