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Increased Air Travel Places Greater Emphasis on Aircraft Liability

Jennifer A. Barry

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, air travel is expected to dramatically increase over the next two decades. And, while technological improvements and safety improvements are constantly being made, the general aviation fatal accident rate has remained fairly stable over the last few years. In addition, the long-term industry reliance on technical improvements has led to what human factors experts call the “deskilling” of some commercial pilots. As a result, the number of people injured during air travel will likely increase. Certainly, commercial aircraft crashes are rare, but the results are often very serious injuries. In addition, and more commonly, in-flight injuries unrelated to crashes also occur. Injuries can occur during boarding, in-flight, and deplaning.

The specific circumstances of each aviation accident are different. Several contributing causes such as pilot error, flight attendant negligence, mechanical failure, aircraft design problems, regulatory violation, or air traffic control negligence might be involved. As a result, each accident raises different issues, but generally, claims for personal injuries arising from air travel are controlled by the legal theories of negligence, product liability, and limited strict liability under the Montreal Convention (when “international” air travel is involved). Negligence claims may also involve differing laws and regulations depending on whether the aircraft involved is a private aircraft or a commercial aircraft subject to the more stringent “common carrier” standard. Claims might be brought against an owner / operator of an aircraft, a separate contracting carrier, the manufacturer of an aircraft or one of its components, aircraft maintenance suppliers, and / or municipal or state entities or the federal government. Finally, a claim might involve a choice of where to file a claim. This choice of where to file can result in differing damages that can be recovered, different proofs that are required and different time periods during which valid claims can be filed. As a result of all these moving parts, aviation litigation is very complex.

If you or a family member has been seriously injured in an aircraft accident you should only contact attorneys, such as the lawyers at Decof, Barry, Mega & Quinn, who have experience in the area of aircraft liability. Our attorneys have handled wrongful death and serious personal injury cases involving both commercial and private aircraft of all types and sizes. And our results speak for themselves. For example, our clients have received:

  • $7.2 million judgment following jury verdict on behalf of an elderly man and his wife against a commercial airline for injuries sustained as a result of a fall from the stairway of the plane.
  • $5.2 million settlement on behalf of the estate of a 49-year-old man and his 10 year old son who were killed in the crash of a private aircraft.