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Philadelphia Airplane Accident Lawyer

As a Philadelphia airplane accident lawyer, one works with some of the most unusual personal injury cases. Aviation accidents are famously rare; one estimate from PBS stated that the average American has a 1 in 11 million chance of dying in a plane crash annually. 

Of course, on the occasions when aircraft do get into trouble, the results are often catastrophic. Suppose you or a loved one has been involved in an airplane accident in Philadelphia, and you’re wondering about your potential entitlement to compensation. In that case, it may be time to speak with a Philadelphia airplane accident attorney. 

Different Types of Airplane Accidents

According to the National Safety Council, the safest way to fly is with a commercial airline. The risk of dangerous incidents increases sharply when you fly in another way, such as on a private plane or a helicopter. However, other types of accidents can occur on scheduled commercial flights, such as turbulence-related falls.

Our airplane accident lawyers deal with various kinds of aviation-related incidents, including:

  • Helicopter crashes: Helicopters take a great deal of skill to pilot safely, and, even with a skilled operator in charge, they remain very sensitive to maintenance issues. Even small problems with helicopters can lead to disastrous outcomes.  
  • Air ambulance accidents: Passengers on medical airplanes typically suffer from an urgent and potentially serious medical condition. So, the possibility of severe injury or illness is heightened when something goes wrong in flight on an air ambulance. 
  • Runway incidents: We commonly deal with clients involved in runway accidents. Takeoff and landing are the two most difficult flight parts for airplane pilots, and the most likely to result in an incident. 
  • Charter plane crashes: Charter flights, or those that passengers book privately rather than through an airline, are not subject to the same regulatory scrutiny as scheduled commercial flights. As such, the risk of accidents with charter flights is greater. 
  • Drone crashes: According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, over 1.1 million recreational drones are registered for use in the United States. While drones don’t carry passengers, they can cause injuries or property damage if their operators fly them carelessly and cause a crash. 
  • In-flight incidents: There doesn’t have to be a collision or crash-landing for you to recover compensation following an airplane accident. Injuries due to careless flying, turbulence, or improper aircraft maintenance may also lead to successful legal action. 

Who Was at Fault?

The defendant (the person or entity you file a lawsuit against) in an airplane accident case can be a pilot, the company that owned the plane, or another party, depending on the nature of the accident and how it came about.

Adding to the complexity is that multiple parties may share responsibility for the incident. Some of the potentially liable parties may include one or more of the following: 

  • Pilot: In some cases, the pilot may be held liable if their negligence, error, or violation of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations contributes to an accident. 
  • Charter company or airline: The company operating an aircraft, whether a commercial airline or a private charter company, may be held liable for accidents where they fail to properly train or supervise pilots, neglect to maintain adequate safety standards, or fail to comply with FAA regulations. 
  • Aircraft leasing company: If an issue with a rented aircraft’s maintenance or safety standards leads to an accident, the leasing company may be liable for damages. 
  • Aircraft manufacturer: The manufacturer of the aircraft or its components may be held liable if a design or manufacturing defect contributes to an accident. 
  • Maintenance provider: If a maintenance provider fails to perform their duties adequately or overlooks a critical issue, they may be liable for any resulting accidents.
  • Air traffic control: If an air traffic controller’s failure to properly direct an aircraft contributes to an accident, the controller or their employer may be liable for damages.

In some instances, multiple parties may share responsibility for an airplane accident. It is essential to conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances of the accident to identify all potentially liable parties. A skilled personal injury lawyer with experience in airplane accident cases can help victims navigate this complex process and pursue compensation from the responsible parties.

Damages Arising from A Successful Airplane Accident Lawsuit

If you file an airplane accident lawsuit, you’ll hope to emerge with financial compensation called “damages.” These damages break down into three broad categories; special, general, and punitive.

Special Damages

Special damages, or economic damages, provide compensation for quantifiable monetary losses. Any expense that can be measured using an invoice or receipt most likely falls into the category of special damages, including:

  • Medical expenses 
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Funeral expenses.

General Damages

General or noneconomic damages are compensation for the nonmonetary losses suffered by the airplane accident. Unlike special damages, general damages are more subjective and may be harder to quantify. Examples of general damages include:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium suffered by a victim’s spouse due to a victim’s inability to be intimate and provide companionship.

Punitive Damages

Special and general damages are collectively known as compensatory damages, as they exist to compensate a loss a plaintiff has suffered. Punitive damages, on the other hand, exist to punish a defendant’s wrongdoing and discourage others from behaving similarly in the future. 

In the context of airplane accidents, punitive damages may be awarded if it is proven that the liable party acted with gross negligence, willful misconduct, or complete disregard for the safety of others. You should note that Pennsylvania courts only hand out punitive damages in a minority of cases. 

Airplane Accident Investigations by The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is responsible for examining all civil aviation accidents in the United States, as well as significant accidents involving public transportation, pipelines, and marine vessels. Following an airplane accident, the NTSB’s goal is to learn as much as possible about the cause of what happened and the surrounding circumstances to make effective safety recommendations and prevent similar potential accidents in the future.

Upon notification of an airplane accident, the NTSB immediately dispatches a Go Team consisting of investigators and support staff with specialized expertise in various fields, such as aviation engineering, human performance, and meteorology. This team investigates air traffic incidents from several angles, including:

  • Physical evidence: The team gleans whatever information it can from flight recorders (also known as black boxes), pieces of wreckage, air traffic control recordings, and photographic evidence from the crash scene. 
  • Human error: By looking at training records, work schedules, and the possible influence of fatigue, stress, or medical conditions, the team answers whether human error by a pilot or air traffic controller may have caused an accident. 
  • Aircraft analysis: The NTSB evaluates the aircraft’s design, maintenance history, and any potential mechanical issues that could have contributed to the accident. This involves a thorough inspection of the aircraft’s components and systems and a review of the manufacturer’s documentation and maintenance records.
  • Environmental factors: NTSB meteorologists may also analyze evidence of the weather conditions at the time of a crash to assess whether they could have played a role in it. 

The NTSB compiles its findings in a report, generally identifying the probable cause of the accident and making recommendations that could lower the risk of similar incidents occurring in the future. While NTSB investigators are not trying to assign blame or liability, their findings often provide critical information for legal proceedings related to airplane accidents.

Working with A Philadelphia Airplane Accident Lawyer Who Will Stand up for You

Airplane accident law is a niche area of the personal injury landscape. If you’ve been injured in an aviation accident, or someone you love has, you’ll want to work with Philadelphia airplane accident lawyers who have had plenty of exposure to cases like this.

At the Cochran Firm in Philadelphia, we’ve dealt successfully with many aviation accident cases. Contact us today to request a free initial consultation with one of our airplane accident attorneys, during which you’ll learn all you need to know to decide whether you should pursue a lawsuit. You can reach us online, via email, or phone at 800-969-4400.