As a firm with significant experience and a successful record in aviation personal injury law, we receive many questions from those who have suffered an injury but aren’t sure what to do next. For your reference, we have assembled some of the most frequently asked questions, and their answers, below.
The sequence of events in any personal injury case depends in part on the nature and severity of the injury, as well as on how cooperative the responsible party is. In the case of an air travel-related injury, it may not immediately be apparent who is even at fault for your injury. The sooner you speak with an experienced aviation personal injury attorney, the sooner you can identify the responsible parties and move forward with a sound legal strategy.
Some of the most likely options for parties to sue include pilots, the airline, the aircraft’s owner (if it is not owned by the airline), the manufacturer of the aircraft and as well as the manufacturer of any key or defective parts, the aircraft maintenance staff, airport operators, and even government agencies that oversee air traffic controllers, weather services and other crucial information sources for air traffic.
One key difference between private aircraft and those operated by commercial airlines is that fewer people are involved in the operation and maintenance of private aircraft; in a personal injury lawsuit, that means there are fewer parties with a potential liability for any injury you have suffered.
Aircraft of all sizes are well regulated in the United States, but in practice, smaller, privately owned aircraft may go longer before potential safety issues are noticed or addressed because fewer people use the aircraft, and also because an individual owner may simply choose to ignore a problem once detected. This type of egregious negligence is harder to execute with larger commercial aircraft, simply because more people are involved in the maintenance and operation of the plane.
The statute of limitations in personal injury lawsuits varies from state to state, and country to country – whether the injury involves an aircraft or not. In general, if you believe you have suffered an injury due to negligence during air travel, it is in your interest to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible in order to determine whether you have a case. At your first meeting with Spohrer Dodd Trial Attorneys, one of the first things we will do is help you assess the strength of your case, and how much time you have to file a suit if it’s appropriate to do so.
Liability rules for international travel are laid out in an international treaty called the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air, commonly known as the Montreal Convention. The Montreal Convention was established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), an agency within the United Nations responsible for overseeing international air travel. The Montreal Convention was agreed to by more than 150 countries, including the United States.
In addition to requiring all international carriers to hold liability insurance, the Montreal Convention also updated the previous liability laws to allow injury victims and their family members to sue foreign air carriers in their home country or country of permanent residence, rather than exclusively in the country where the airline is headquartered.