Aviation Accident Law: Know Your Rights

Aviation accidents include crashes involving fixed-wing aircraft (like airplanes) and rotary-wing aircraft (like helicopters). Although aviation accidents have decreased sharply in recent years, they continue to carry the highest fatality and serious injury rates of any transportation accident. In 2015, more than 1,200 civil aviation accidents occurred in the United States.

The New York aviation accident lawyers at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, are dedicated to protecting survivors and the loved ones of the deceased. If you have been harmed in some manner by a plane or helicopter crash, call us today at (212) 986-7353 for a free consultation. We can provide the insight you need to protect your rights as a passenger.

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What Are Common Causes of Aviation Accidents?

Aircraft are complex machines requiring training and experience to operate safely. Consequently, the two most common causes of aviation accidents are pilot error and mechanical failure.

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airplane parked on tarmac

Whether you were injured on the ground or in the air, you have rights and may be entitled to compensation. Call (212) 986-7353 to speak with a lawyer.

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Common Injuries caused by Plane Crashes

Plane crashes are often associated with wrongful death because a plane that falls out of the sky often kills everyone onboard. But even in more minor incidents, injuries can be severe. These injuries can range from the head, neck, and spine to internal injuries and broken bones.

Head injuries. Brain and head injuries are one of the most common injuries sustained during a plane crash. Upon impact, the head may violently strike either the front seat or the plane's side. This can result in a concussion or other form of TBI.

Neck and spine. A type of injury often seen in plane crash survivors is in the spine or neck. The force of the impact can cause irreparable damage to the nervous system resulting in long-term or permanent paralysis or other serious medical conditions.

Internal injuries. A crash's impact can also cause unseen damage to organs, causing them to rupture or bleed, potentially leading to internal bleeding or other serious medical conditions. While there is not always a lot that can be done to prevent these types of injuries, it is important to be aware of them and to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you are involved in a crash.

Broken bones. A strong enough force of impact can cause broken bones which, in turn can lead to serious internal bleeding, infections, and other life-threatening injuries. And some breaks will never fully heal which can lead to mobility issues, requiring long-term physical accommodations and rehabilitation.

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Pilot Error

Pilot error can occur in several ways. Pilots who are fatigued or distracted can easily make a mistake that causes a crash. Other common causes of pilot error include turbulence or failure to take proper precautions during takeoff, flight, or landing.

The category "pilot error" is a broad one, covering both mistakes made by the pilot alone and mistakes that occur due to problems in communication or misunderstandings along the chain of information on which a pilot relies. For instance, a pilot may misjudge a landing site based on inaccurate information provided by an air traffic controller, or because poor weather prevents the pilot or the plane’s instruments from accurately judging elevation, distance, or airspeed. Similarly, instruments that are maintained, repaired, or calibrated incorrectly may give false readings, leading the pilot to believe that conditions outside the plane are different than they actually are.

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Mechanical Failure

Mechanical failure may be the result of a manufacturing or design defect that poses a hidden danger in some part or equipment in the plane. It may be caused by improper or faulty maintenance or repairs. The failure may also be caused by inclement weather or other obstacles, such as ice on parts of the plane that cause it to operate incorrectly.

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Are Airplane Ground Accidents Dangerous?

Although most people picture "aviation accidents" as crashes that take place in the air, an accident can also occur while an aircraft is on the ground. Accidents that occur during takeoff or landing are among the most common, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). A plane may run off the runway. It may run into another aircraft, person, vehicle, or object on the ground, causing serious damage. In rare cases, a pilot may fail to hear or misunderstand directions from air traffic controllers or ground crew, which can lead to traveling the wrong way on a runway or using the wrong runway, causing a collision.

While helicopters do not use runways the way fixed-wing aircraft do, accidents during helicopter takeoffs and landings can also be fatal. Piloting a helicopter requires intense concentration, and helicopters must also be built and maintained correctly in order to avoid accidents.

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Passenger Rights

As an aviation passenger you are entitled to specific rights. Many passengers are unaware of this, and after an incident, they unknowingly waive these rights when aviation staff or insurance representatives give them paperwork to sign. If you or a loved one has been involved in an aviation incident, call an aviation accident attorney immediately to ensure that the negligent parties are held accountable. Don’t allow your rights to be violated without a fight.

As a passenger, you have certain rights in the event of a plane crash. First and foremost, you have the right to safety. All airlines and pilots owe a certain duty of care to everyone onboard their aircraft, so any injury you sustain due to another’s actions is a violation of your rights. You also have the right to medical treatment if you are injured, so do not hesitate to seek it immediately—just save your bills for future evidence. If you are not injured in a plane crash, you still have a few rights: to be taken to your final destination, to have your baggage returned to you as soon as possible, and to be compensated for any damage to your belongings.

A New York aviation accident attorney can help prove liability after a plane crash by investigating the cause of the crash and determining who was at fault. The lawyer will gather evidence to support the claim that the crash was caused by negligence on the part of the airline or the pilot. In addition, the lawyer can interview witnesses and expert witnesses to support the claim.

When an airplane crash occurs, victims may be entitled to two different types of compensation: pecuniary damages and non-pecuniary damages. Pecuniary damages are financial compensation for things like medical bills, lost income, and benefits for survivors of a deceased family member. Non-pecuniary damages are paid for things like trauma as well as pain and suffering. In some cases, people may be compensated for pain and suffering experienced before the crash, as well as during the crash itself.

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Protecting Aviation Accident Victims in New York

Whether you have survived an aviation crash with serious injuries, or lost a loved one due to an accident, you deserve the aid of a skilled lawyer who will help you recover to the best of your abilities. With the New York personal injury attorneys at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, you can find get justice. We fight for the compensation you deserve so that you can afford expensive but needed medical procedures and recuperate from your financial losses to move forward with your life. Do not wait; call us for a no-cost consultation at (212) 986-7353.

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