Aviation Accident Attorneys
Airplane & Helicopter Attorneys by Your Side Fighting for Justice
Usually, when we step onto an airplane or helicopter, we’re thinking about our destination, not the risks of air travel. Yet, unlike accidents involving other forms of transportation, aviation accidents are more likely to have a catastrophic impact. Loss of life, injuries, and property damages sustained in an airplane accident or helicopter crash often far outweigh those associated with a car accident. For over 25 years, victims of aviation accidents and their family members have chosen the aviation accident lawyers at Slack Davis Sanger to navigate the complex litigation rules associated with air travel to obtain just compensation for their losses.
Alarming Trends in Avoidable Tragedies
Aviation fatalities and accidents were starting to steadily decline until 2017. Since then, a rise in the number of these tragedies suggests that air travel has become increasingly dangerous, with 561 fatalities in 2018 and 231 fatalities in just the first five months of 2019. Unfortunately, many of the aviation accidents that occurred could have been prevented, if only more extensive pilot training, proper aircraft maintenance, stronger safety regulations, or a combination of these safeguards were in place. Behind the statistics are lives that have been shattered. Every family that is impacted is one too many.
If you or a family member has been a victim in one of these incidents, having a compassionate, hardworking attorney on your side can help you navigate the difficult and tedious work in the aftermath. Our team is made up of licensed pilots and a former NASA aerospace engineer who understand when a pilot, manufacturer, or airline is responsible for life-altering injuries and the loss of life. While we fight to secure justice for you, we also work to make flying safer and to help prevent catastrophic accidents from occurring again.
Types of Aviation Accidents
The demand for air travel is expected to double over the next 20 years. This exponential growth will bring challenges to an industry already plagued with safety issues, a pilot shortage, and aging fleets. Thousands of new planes, pilots, routes and airports will test what regulators might argue is an already precarious situation where passenger safety may take a backseat to profits.
The caring airplane accident lawyers at Slack Davis Sanger have a unique combination of skills and experience in the aviation industry to help advise victims and their loved ones in the event of an accident. Our attorneys have stood up to the major airline companies and aircraft manufacturers, including Boeing, Airbus, Southwest Airlines, Taquan Air, American Airlines, Robinson, and Beechcraft. We understand the hardship that a catastrophic accident can have on a family. We will work tirelessly on your behalf, so you can focus on your physical and emotional recovery.
The attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger regularly handle aviation accident and crash cases, including incidents involving commercial airplanes, private planes, helicopters, sightseeing helicopters, and international air travel.
These large-scale tragedies often involve multiple defendants, the National Transportation Safety Board, independent investigators, commercial airline carriers, and aircraft manufacturers. Air crash litigation and multiple layers of state, federal, and international law make these cases extremely challenging to take on. Defendants will often try to walk away from these tragedies with as little financial and regulatory consequences as possible, making it necessary for victims and their families to find hardworking attorneys with aviation experience who are fighting for their justice, as well as reform within the industry.
The aviation accident attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger have successfully represented passengers involved in commercial airline crashes across the United States, as well as in dozens of foreign countries. The attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger understand the nuances of federal regulations and the Montreal Convention, a treaty that dictates how cases involving international travel should be handled. Our skilled team can guide victims and their families through the difficult times that follow one of these life-altering tragedies.
Although commercial airline crashes are more likely to make the headlines, commuter planes and air taxi charters that hold fewer than 30 passengers have much higher accident rates than flights on the major carriers. These types of private aircraft are governed by a less restrictive set of federal safety regulations than larger planes, although the impact on victims and families is just as heartbreaking in the event of a crash. These accidents are often more dangerous because plane maintenance and pilot training requirements are less stringent.
While smaller planes crash for the same reasons larger ones do—most often, pilot error—there are a few more reasons that this type of travel is more risky. Because the aircraft itself is a smaller version of its commercial counterpart, it lacks many of the redundancies that come into play when things go wrong: a second engine, a co-pilot, and a backup navigation system. While commercial pilots log many hours in flight, operators of private planes may only undergo annual training and more limited time in the cockpit. The experienced plane crash attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger apply their knowledge of private planes and business jets for the benefit of those who have sustained an injury or lost a loved one in a devastating crash.
Athletes, executives, musicians, government officials, celebrities, and even commuters may opt for a charter helicopter to avoid the hassle of security lines, delays, and other inconveniences of modern travel. In a medical emergency, patients may be transported to a medical facility by an air ambulance, medical helicopter, or medical transport plane. Offshore oil workers may take a helicopter ride to a job site. Unfortunately, the passengers in each of these scenarios are at a higher risk of a crash or accident when compared to flying on a commercial airline.
Helicopters are more vulnerable to bad weather, have more moving parts than airplanes, and are more difficult to handle when a novice pilot is at the controls. Rescue missions can take place in areas with quickly changing weather or poor weather conditions, putting passengers at even further risk of bodily harm. These types of aircraft have greatly reduced visibility at night, making it even more critical to have a highly experienced pilot. Inexperienced pilots, who aren’t held to the same standards for training and flying hours as commercial pilots, may have to make split-second decisions that can have a life-long impact on victims.
Slack Davis Sanger has a long history of successfully helping families secure just compensation for losses associated with helicopter crashes and accidents. With a licensed helicopter pilot on our team, we are able to provide our clients with specialized knowledge in this field.
Vacation spots advertise helicopter tours as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a destination from a unique perspective. Passengers may not realize that operators often cut corners with safety measures and that pilots may not have the skills nor training to navigate difficult and unfamiliar terrain in these exotic locales. Investigators working to put together the pieces after these crashes have found that tour helicopters may not be equipped with doors or with harnesses that are too difficult or too complex to get out of in emergency situations.
Sightseeing tours in places like the Grand Canyon and Hawaii can lead to disaster if pilots become distracted or are unfamiliar with the area, leading to collisions, either with other aircraft or nearby land features. Having caring and compassionate advocates working on your behalf after one of these accidents can help you and your family chart a new path forward.
An increase in the number of low-cost airlines with transatlantic flights and new stripped-down options from traditional airlines has meant that flying abroad is easier and cheaper than ever before. Carriers are often forced to take shortcuts when operating on razor-thin margins, and passenger safety is usually put on the back burner. When tragedy strikes on an international flight, passengers and their loved ones have a daunting journey ahead of them to seek compensation for what are often catastrophic losses. Although every aviation accident claim is complex, these crashes and incidents require an even deeper knowledge of international laws and agreements related to passenger safety.
Not only will your legal strategy need to take into account global treaties, including the Montreal and Warsaw Conventions, but your legal team will also need to evaluate a broader range of jurisdictions to determine where to try your case to have the best chance of a favorable outcome. Only a select group of law firms has the experience and knowledge to take on these kinds of cases. Slack Davis Sanger has established a reputation as one of the best.
Emotional Distress After an Accident
Individuals who are involved in a serious plane or helicopter crash or accident can experience mental suffering related to the traumatic event, in addition to the often long road to recovery after what may be life-altering physical injuries. Panic, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and self-directed guilt are some examples of what a plane crash victim may experience in the days, weeks, and months following the accident. These forms of mental anguish may impact not only the victim, but also loved ones. The legal team at Slack Davis Sanger brings caring and compassion to its work with victims to recover damages in these cases to help individuals and their families adjust to a new life after one of these tragic events.
Determining Liability After a Catastrophic Aviation Accident
Determining who is at fault in the event of a plane or helicopter accident or crash can be difficult, as usually more than one party is responsible. A full investigation can take an extended period of time to reach a conclusion, and not all firms are equipped to be a resource for victims and their families over the long haul.
The most common causes of aviation accidents are:
- Pilot error, whether because of loss of control, flying into terrain, or another issue
- Air traffic controller or maintenance team error or miscommunication
- Mechanical defects or component failure
- Lack of fuel
- Collision with another aircraft
- Flying too low
- Poor weather or turbulence
- Fire or smoke
- Abnormal runway contact
Based on why the incident occurred, liability may be placed on one or more parties, including:
- The aircraft’s owner and operator
- An airline
- The plane or parts manufacturer
- The companies contracted to supply maintenance
- Medical expenses after the accident, as well as for future care
- Income and future earning potential
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium for the spouse of the victim
The settlement may also involve punitive damages to the parties responsible for the tragedy. The aviation attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger pursue every possible avenue for our clients to get the compensation they deserve after one of these serious accidents.
The Role of Automation and Human Error
While technological advances and automation are intended to make flying safer, recent accidents suggest otherwise. Computers have replaced pilots during many parts of a flight.
Because of this heavy reliance on automation, pilots have less hands-on flying time, giving them less experience with critical decision-making skills necessary to handle potential problems they may encounter in the air. To make matters worse, federal regulators are not always aware of software updates that manufacturers implement, so pilots can be unprepared when things go horribly wrong.
The aviation accident attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger will work endlessly to bring justice to the victims of these accidents, as well as to advocate for stronger regulations within the industry to safeguard passengers. With added safety measures, we can make flying safer, both now and in the future.
Contact an experienced aviation litigation attorney for a free case evaluation
Slack Davis Sanger is the name you know and trust to handle complex litigation for aviation accidents throughout the world. Our dedicated team of attorneys stands by, ready to help. Please contact us at 800-455-8686 or fill out our contact form to get started with a free case evaluation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there any place I can go to find out whether the airline, tour operator or charter operator I am flying with has had any crashes or other problems?
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is a federal agency charged with investigating significant aviation, railroad, highway, marine, and pipeline accidents. Since 1962, the NTSB has maintained a publicly accessible database of civil aviation accidents and incidents that you can search. Just go to the Aviation Accident Database and enter the company’s name under Event Details in the field “Enter your word string below.”
What types of damages can be recovered in an aviation accident?
A settlement in an aviation case can include pain and suffering, medical bills, and past, current, and future loss of wages. If a fatal accident occurs, the victim’s relatives may be eligible for loss of support, funeral expenses, and damages that the deceased would have provided to family members.
Who can be held responsible if I lose a loved one in an airplane crash?
A skilled aviation attorney will conduct a thorough investigation to determine who is at fault in the case of a deadly plane crash or accident. An aircraft owner or operator, an aircraft manufacturer, maintenance vendors, air traffic control, an insurer, or the pilot may be at fault.
What is the statute of limitations for aviation accidents?
A statute of limitations places a time limit that dictates how long after an accident you have to make a claim. This time period varies, depending on where and how you file a lawsuit — whether in state, federal, or international court.
What do the statistics tell us about the most dangerous part of a flight?
According to research conducted by Boeing into commercial flights between 2007 and 2016, 48% of fatal crashes occurred during the final descent and landing. Take-off and the initial ascent represent the second-most-deadly portion of a flight, or 13% of fatal accidents. These stages are sometimes referred to as the "plus three minus eight" rule, meaning that a majority of plane crashes take place during either the first three minutes or the last eight minutes of a flight.
What are discounted fee arrangements in commercial airline cases?
In some cases, lawyers who are inexperienced at handling commercial aviation cases propose a deeply reduced percentage of the final settlement to a potential client, as an incentive to encourage an individual to engage a particular firm in a case. In many cases, lawyers "bundle" multiple cases together and present them to an insurer to propose a settlement. Discounted fee arrangements tend to result in lower settlement amounts for each client. Experienced aviation attorneys like those at Slack Davis Sanger have the opposite goal in mind: to secure clients the optimum recovery in the shortest possible time.