Airplane Accidents Lawyers in Richmond
We are Personal Injury Lawyers Protecting Individuals in Virginia
The legal claims that may or may not be available to passengers injured
on airplanes can be complex and will depend on who and/or what caused
the injury. If a
passenger is injured as a result of the negligence, carelessness, or inattention of an airline
employee, there is likely a claim for negligence against the airline.
This is true regardless of whether that employee was the pilot, cleaning
crew, or flight attendant.
Generally, a plaintiff, or victim, must prove three things:
- That the law required the defendant to exercise "reasonable"
or "ordinary" care to prevent people from being hurt.
- That the defendant failed to exercise such reasonable care.
- That failure was the cause of the plaintiff's injury.
Airlines, however, are part of a category referred to in legal terms as
"common carriers." A common carrier is a company that transports
members of the public for a fee. A company designated as a common carrier
owes a "heightened duty of care" to prevent members of the public
from being hurt. A heightened duty of care means that the company and
its employees must act with a higher degree of care. In other words, they
have to go above and beyond what a normal person would do to safeguard
against injury. The standard for common carriers applies to employees
of the airline, as well, and is applicable whether passengers are boarding
the plane, the airplane is in flight, or passengers are disembarking the aircraft.
Possible Negligent Actions
There are various ways that airlines and their employees can be negligent.
They can be negligent by actively doing something they should not do,
such as leaving a cart in the way and causing a passenger to trip and
fall. This can also be caused by failing to do something that they should
have done, like latching an overhead bin properly so that it does not
open mid-flight, causing luggage to fall on a passenger. Airlines can
also be negligent if they fail to adequately train their staff, have policies
that do not properly protect their passengers, or fail to warn passengers
of potential hazards.
Airlines are not, however, responsible for aviation accidents that happen
due to "acts of God." For example, unpredictable weather and turbulence are good examples
of these acts. Pilots and airlines cannot always anticipate turbulence.
If the airline and flight attendants were adequately protecting passengers
and were vigilant and a passenger is injured from turbulence anyway, the
airline would not be held responsible for the passenger's injury.
That being said, if the pilots were able to foresee the turbulence (as
they often can), but did not warn the passengers to fasten their seat
belts or take other precautions to protect themselves from injury, the
airline may be deemed to be negligent and therefore liable for any resulting
injuries. In addition, if the pilot should have been able to predict the
turbulence, but did not do so because of inattention, the airline could
be liable for passenger injuries caused by the turbulence.
Can Liability rest with Federal Aviation Administration?
Airlines and their employees are not the only ones who may be held liable
for passenger injuries. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible
for providing safe air navigation/air traffic control services to 30.2
million square miles.
If an FAA employee's in attention or lack of vigilance causes injuries
to passenger (in a runway crash, for example), the injured passenger may
be able to make a claim FAA for negligence. Because the FAA is a federal
agency, there are special rules and procedures that must be followed under
the Federal Tort Claims Act. A Richmond personal injury attorney experienced
in lawsuits against the federal government can advise you whether or not
you may have a claim.
There are also times when airplane parts or equipment are defective and
lead to injuries. If a passenger is injured as a result, there may be
a product liability claim. For example, if a design defect results in
a cart coming loose mid-flight, a passenger injured by the cart could
have a claim against the airplane or cart manufacturers.
If you were injured or someone you love was killed in an airline accident,
contact an experienced Richmond personal injury attorney at the Halperin Law Center to discuss whether or not you have a viable claim.