Across the U.S., only 11 states require private aircraft to carry insurance. Considering that the majority of aircraft crashes involve privately-owned helicopters and planes, this seems like an egregious oversight—yet the Federal Aviation Administration claims it has no authority to require pilots to insure their private aircraft. Dallas Business Journal spoke with Dallas Managing Partner Ladd Sanger on how this issue can affect victims who seek legal recourse.
Sanger, who has lobbied Congress to enact a law that would require general aviation aircraft pilots to carry liability insurance, explained that he frequently turns away crash victims because there is no coverage available. “I’ve had incidents where an airplane has hit somebody in their car, on the ground, driving to work and killed them, and there was no insurance available because the owner of the aircraft was too cheap to buy it,” he said.
Sanger’s client Thomas Swan, who suffered a serious ankle injury in a helicopter crash, is one of many victims who have been burned by a pilot with no insurance. Although Swan has a default judgment against the pilot, it is unlikely that any money will be recovered, Sanger explained.
Neither the FAA nor any other aviation organization tracks how many of the 200,000 private aircrafts in the U.S. are insured. “If you see an airplane flying overhead, there is a statistically significant probability that there will be no insurance on that aircraft…or if there is insurance, it will be extremely limited,” Sanger told Dallas Business Journal.
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