Flying may be one of the safest forms of transportation, but accidents still happen. This is especially true of smaller aircraft. A recent search for aviation accidents in California alone produced links to several deadly crashes over the summer of 2023. In July, six people were killed when their private jet crashed in a field outside of Murrieta. Just a week earlier, a man died, and three children suffered injuries when their small plane crashed in the same area. And in Atlanta, 11 people were injured when a Delta flight hit extreme turbulence right before landing.
Of course, most of us will fly without incident. However, if the unthinkable happens, you should know your rights and how to proceed. Here is a brief overview.
- You have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you were injured in an aviation accident, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible parties. This could include the airline, the airport, the aircraft manufacturer, or the pilot. To be successful in a personal injury lawsuit, you must prove that the other party was negligent and that their negligence caused your injuries.
- You have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit.If you are the legal next of kin of someone killed in an aviation accident, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit. This type of claim allows you to recover damages for the emotional and financial losses caused by the unexpected loss of your loved one.
- You have the right to hire a personal injury lawyer to represent you. Aviation accidents are complex and can involve several parties. There are usually multiple jurisdictions to deal with. These are not the kind of cases a person should take on by themselves. A personal injury attorney with experience handling aviation accident cases is your best ally at a very difficult time.
Attorney J.J. Dominguez of The Dominguez Firm explains, “Make sure you choose a personal injury law firm with a successful track record handling aviation accident cases. These firms provide clients with several invaluable advantages. This includes access to specific experts, the ability to gather evidence effectively and up-to-date knowledge of state, federal and international aviation laws and regulations.”
Dominguez also stressed the importance of not dealing with the defendant’s insurance company directly. “Whether it’s a large commercial airline, an airplane parts manufacturer or a private owner of a small aircraft, don’t try and negotiate with their attorneys or insurance adjusters directly. You may think you’re saving money by doing that, but you could be leaving so much on the table. These people negotiate for a living, but the average person does not. Instead, let an aviation accident lawyer handle things for you.”
At the very least, have a personal injury lawyer who specializes in aviation accidents review any settlement offer from the defendant. Even if the offer seems fair, it may fall woefully short, especially if the person suffered permanent injuries or, in the case of someone who was killed, left behind children. All reputable firms offer free consultations, so you have nothing to lose and so much to gain by calling them.