Aviation Accident What to do After an Aviation or Airplane Accident

  1. Even though travel in airplanes is generally considered a very safe means of travel, aviation accidents still happen occasionally and are typically extremely devastating. If you have survived an airplane accident or you have lost a family member in an airplane accident, you can file a claim to recover compensation for damages that were caused by the airplane accident. This article will answer a few common questions about what happens and what to do if you or someone important to you has been injured or has died in an airplane accident.

    The federal aviation administration expects air travel to continue to increase for years to come. With an increased number of flights, there will more than likely be more aviation accident injury claims so it is important to become familiar with the law and your rights.

    Aviation Laws and Lawyers

    Accidents involving major air carriers and small engine aircraft are covered under federal and state aviation accident laws. In addition to passenger flights, this also includes all non-commercial aircraft, including small aircraft, business jets, pleasure crafts, chartered flights and helicopters. When lawsuits are filed as a result of an aviation accident, the litigation will frequently be specialized and complex. In addition to dealing with federal and individual state laws, there is also the possibility of international aviation laws being brought into the case if the airplane accident happened over international waters. Because of the complexity of aviation laws, an experienced aviation lawyer is really the only qualified type of lawyer that should handle your aviation lawsuit and not a general personal injury lawyer.

    Who should I contact if a family member was in an aviation accident?

    All aviation accidents are to be reported to the National Travel Safety Board (NTSB). Their Communications Center phone number is (202) 314-6100. You can call them to report a private aviation accident or to get information on all commercial aviation accidents. The NTSB will be able answer your questions and provide you with information and answers to your questions.

    It is also advisable to contact an aviation attorney as soon as possible after an airplane crash or accident since a lawyer can best help you with gathering and preserving the critical information you may need for your case. While it is important to gather facts and evidence, it is equally important to ensure that the evidence is preserved so that it may be admissible in a court of law. In addition, it is not advisable for you to make statements to anyone about an accident without first consulting an attorney. Answering questions without knowledge of the legal consequences could jeopardize your case. In addition to advising you on the specific facts of law, it is also useful to have a legal advisor who is not involved personally in the emotional aspects of the case, who can help you make better, legally sound decisions.

    How are remains identified in aviation accidents?

    Remains of the victims in aircraft accidents are identified by the use of several methods such as: fingerprints, dental records, DNA testing and visual identification.

    What does the term "multi-district litigation" mean?

    Multi-district litigation is a term that refers to an instance where there is more than one place where a plaintiff may sue a defendant as a result of an aviation accident. As stated above, the Warsaw Convention lists four places where a case can be filed. It is possible that different plaintiffs might file the case in a different jurisdiction, such as one most convenient for each plaintiff. This type of litigation on the plaintiff’s behalf is directed through a committee of lawyers known as a "Plaintiff's Steering Committee."

    What should I do if I keep getting letters from the airline lawyers?

    A moratorium of 30 days after an aviation accident disallows contact with victims (and their families) of airplane accidents by lawyers. You should never get unsolicited phone calls or letters from lawyers, including those who represent the airline, during the moratorium period. You may wish to report such contact with the appropriate state bar association. In addition, the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act of 1996 also disallows contact from the airlines insurance carrier with the victim’s family.

    Should I just allow the airline to conduct the investigation into the accident and trust the NTSB?

    Even though the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conducts an investigation into aviation accidents, it is not an advocate for you or the airline. You should still have your own investigation done to determine what caused the accident. Your aviation attorney can help you regarding how to go about getting your own investigation done. The FAA and the FBI investigate aircraft accidents also. There may also be foreign investigations depending on where the accident happened.

    What services are provided for the families of aviation accident victims?

    The American Red Cross, the US Department of Health and Human Services and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may provide services to victims and their families. At times, other local agencies may provide services also. The Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act of 1996 requires the airline to help family members travel to the accident site. They are also required to provide food and shelter for the family while staying at the location of the accident. A toll-free number is supposed to be given to the family members to handle any inquiries they may have.
    Accident & Injury Law:
    Aviation Accident

    Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler
    Michael M. Wechsler is an experienced attorney, founder of TheLaw.com, A. Research Scholar at Columbia Business School and of-counsel to Kaplan, Williams & Graffeo, LLC. He was also an SVP and chief Internet strategist at Zedge.net and legal consultant at Kroll Ontrack, a leading service e-discovery and computer forensics service provider.


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