California Aviation Accident Attorneys
Call Our Airplane Crash Lawyers at Scarlett Law Group
An airline accident is generally a catastrophe, often with many victims and families in need of help. The Scarlett Law Group handles aviation accidents around the globe. Our association with the Nolan Law Group in Chicago, Illinois ensures the experience, resources, and technological ability to accomplish the individual goals of our clients. When tragedy strikes, we stand ready to assist those in need.
If you or someone you know has been injured as the result of an airplane crash, call the Scarlett Law Group today at (415) 688-2176.
Development of Aviation Law Specialty
There is no specific discipline known as “aviation law” in the sense that there is a law of the sea (Jones Act) or railroad (FELA). This is particularly true in airline accident cases. Rather, basic theories and approaches come from traditional tort concepts such as products liability, negligence, and breach of contract or warranty. However, punitive damages are an important aspect of aviation law.
Investigation and Discovery of Aviation Accidents
We believe the key to winning aviation cases may be contained in two words: preparation and simplicity. There is nothing enigmatic nor even tremendously overbearing about aeronautics or aeronautical subjects. However, our experience has shown that most people, and consequently most jurors, feel baffled by aerospace topics since this area of expertise surrounds itself in its own language.
As a result, aviation cases are often made complicated by those seeking to defend negligent or wrongful accidents resulting in tragedy. Simplicity overcomes subterfuge. Immediate factual investigation is no less important, however, especially in cases involving the crash of a light aircraft. The accumulation and preservation of evidence (especially before destructive testing occurs), is of absolute importance.
Experts, Investigators & Theories
In general aviation accidents, government investigators often send key parts (such as engines and instruments) to the manufacturers to check for possible defects that might have led to the crash. Theoretically, these parts are supposed to be under the surveillance and control of the government investigators, but in reality, this is sometimes like putting the thieves in charge of the loot.
Experienced counsel can ensure that evidence is preserved and that experts re-review the investigation of government agencies and manufacturers. It is also incumbent upon counsel to determine in a given accident who was responsible for the disaster itself. The National Transportation Safety Board has estimated that approximately 83% of all general aviation accidents are attributable to pilot error.
Thus, in some cases involving injuries to passengers, bystanders, or property loss, the pilot, his estate and/or his employer could be primarily at fault. Whether there was negligent preflight of the aircraft, negligent flight planning, inadequate flight experience for conditions, or other error must all be considered. At Scarlett Law Group, we have experience in investigating these accidents.
Negligent Design, Manufacture & Assembly
In addition, counsel must consider the aircraft and component manufacturer. Product liability, the law which defines responsibilities of a manufacturer towards consumers and users of its products, often applies. An aircraft or airborne component manufacturer may be charged in strict liability, common law negligence, and breach of warranty, as may be any person or entity professionally involved.
An aircraft manufacturer may be liable for negligently designing or assembling products. The choice of materials, the quantity and quality of testing and analysis, the adequacy or inadequacy of maintenance instructions, and any representations or warnings as to the use or abuse of the product may play a role. The aviation industry is peculiar in that its products are tested under government supervision.
Negligent Maintenance & Repair
Experienced counsel must also examine the maintenance company involved in any given case. Persons and firms which conduct the inspection and repair of aircraft, aircraft engines, propellers and jets must be licensed and certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Their failure to comply with applicable Federal Aviation Regulations may be negligence in and of itself, making them liable for an accident.
Airlines in the military generally do their own maintenance, repair and overhaul. Occasionally, it is performed by independent contractors who may be responsible for negligent maintenance and repair in a situation where such may be otherwise prohibited. Most privately owned aircraft, large or small, are maintained by independent companies specializing in such work. They are clearly legally responsible for their failure professionally to inspect and repair equipment delegated to their charge.
Liability of the FAA & Air Traffic Control Personnel
The FAA is responsible for the certification of aircraft and its components, the licensing of pilots and other aircrew, and for the surveillance of aircraft in flight. A breach of these duties may be actionable under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Counsel must likewise examine the role of the FAA in any given case.
Several cases have involved negligence of air traffic control personnel which recognize that the government has consented to be sued for the negligence of its controllers taking their control of aircraft in the air, when landing, taking off or taxiing at airports. Once the government undertakes to provide such service, it must exercise due care and will be responsible if it failed to utilize such care.
If you or someone you know has been injured as the result of an airplane crash, you need the assistance of the Scarlett Law Group. Call (415) 688-2176 today to speak with our team.