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Who Is Liable for a Plane Accident?

Robert F. Spohrer

Plane accidents are some of the most complicated to untangle, precisely because the machines involved are complicated too. From the plane manufacturers to the airline pilots, there could be dozens of people or organizations who helped contribute to a plane crash — and caused serious injuries or fatalities as a result.

As nationwide aviation accident lawyers with more than 150 years of experience, we’ve gained a reputation for diving deep into plane accident cases and uncovering the truth. If you or a loved one have been involved in a deadly plane crash, you can trust that the team at Spohrer Dodd will stand by your side and help you determine who is at fault.

In this post, we’ll discuss a few of the most common causes of plane accidents, as well as how to prove liability in these cases.

Common Causes of Airplane Accidents

Crashes can be caused by anything from manufacturing defects to basic human error, and there are many environmental hazards that can also threaten passenger and crew safety. Because of the sheer size and scope of these machines, there’s rarely a single factor that brings down a plane by itself.

Ultimately, however, the plane’s designers, the flight crew, the airport staff, and the airline itself are all responsible for ensuring that you take off and land safely on a plane. If they fail to perform basic duties or check up on issues with due diligence, they could ultimately be liable for accidents.

Here are some of the most common causes behind a crash:

  • Pilot or air traffic control errors: When pilots fail to properly manage the controls or follow safety protocols, these errors can lead to devastating consequences. So too can the failure of air traffic control experts to promptly communicate about changing conditions.
  • Inadequate crew preparation: If the airline has not properly trained the flight crew for emergency situations, all the passengers may suffer from the result of their carelessness. This can also include failing to provide enough safety equipment and resources for emergencies.
  • Miscommunications during an environmental event: Many tragedies are caused by simple miscommunication, especially when the weather worsens. That’s why it’s critical for airline staff and pilots to regularly follow up with control towers, and stay alert for new communications.
  • Preventable mechanical failures: Whether it happens on the runway or in the factory, there are hundreds of possible mechanical failures that can cause a plane to fail mid-flight, or cause deadly on-board explosions and fires. Planes are finely-tuned machines that require extra care to maintain, so if mechanics have not performed due diligence, they can be held accountable.
  • Faulty design: Sometimes, an airplane itself contains one or several defective parts, due to a flawed design at the manufacturing level. Even if every other party involved in the process was exceptionally careful, a single defective component can cause a crash.

Proving Liability in Plane Accident Cases

In order to show that an individual or organization was responsible for a plane crash, an attorney will need to clearly establish the facts of the case. The first step will be to identify where the plane went wrong. Because of the complexity involved, this process can require months of high-level investigation, and an attorney will need to work with many experts in the airplane industry as well as eyewitnesses, flight staff, and other individuals.

Then, the lawyer will need to show that someone was actively negligent, also defined as “not reasonably careful.” This is the premise on which nearly all personal injury cases are based, and it’s pivotal to holding the right parties accountable in accident situations. No one is perfect, but negligence isn’t about punishing imperfection: It’s about identifying carelessness that no other reasonable person would commit in similar circumstances.

Seek Experienced Counsel Today

Although aviation accidents are relatively uncommon, they do happen — and they may bring hundreds of lives down with them in the process. If
you or a loved one have been affected by a major plane crash, you may be entitled to seek damages for your losses. At Spohrer Dodd, our Board-Certified plane accident lawyers are ready to help you do just that, by providing skilled legal assistance and years of proven experience.

Contact Spohrer Dodd today at (904) 637-7721 for more information on our legal services in Jacksonville!