Orville and Wilbur Wright are best known as inventors of the world’s first successful airplane in the early 1900’s. Since their time, airplanes have evolved and have also enabled individuals from all around the world to travel in a relatively short period of time. Daily, thousands of individuals travel via commercial aircrafts or smaller private planes to distances that range from a couple hundred to thousands of miles.
Over the past century, air flight has become faster, more fuel efficient, more comfortable, as well as safer. Unfortunately, flight safety is not 100% guaranteed and yearly, there are reports of incidents of air accidents, many resulting in injuries and/or fatalities. Every year, there are over 1,000 aircrafts involved in accidents in the United States. The National Transportation Safety Board reported in their 2010 U.S. Civil Aviation Accidents Report that in 2010, there were a total of 1,500 aviation accidents, with 275 of them being fatal accidents, totaling 470 fatalities. Of commercial flights, which include large transport aircrafts that carry passengers and/or cargo for hire and is the main method of transportation for everyday civilian use, there were 28 accidents with 1 major accident where the aircraft was destroyed or there were multiple fatalities or both. Thirteen of these accidents involved injuries that were non-fatal but involved at least one serious injury. There were a total of 14 accidents where the aircraft was substantially damages but no person was killed or seriously injured. Causes of these accidents have included:
- Turbulence (8)
- Group collision (5)
- Ground handling (4)
- Bird strike (3)
- Abrupt maneuver (2)
- System/component failure (2)
When an individual is involved in an accident on a domestic flight, the laws that govern compensation and responsibility are more straightforward. However, the Montreal Convention governs international air flights. The Montreal Convention is a treaty signed in 1999 concerning rules for international carriage by air that amended provisions from the Warsaw Convention involving compensation for victims of air disasters. The treaty recognized the importance of protecting the interests of consumers in international flight and the need for equitable compensation. The convention covers all international carriage of person, baggage or cargo as well as the liability for personal injury stating, “a carrier is liable for damage sustained in case of death or bodily injury of a passenger upon condition only that the accident which caused the death or injury took place on board the aircraft or in the course of any of the operations of embarking or disembarking.” The Montreal Convention also states that air carriers are strictly liable for proven damages only up to a specified limit. The main purpose of the convention was to ensure liabilities would be paid for families for death or injury. It allows victims or family members to sue and hold foreign carriers responsibility regardless of where their principal residence is. It is through the Montreal Convention that carriers are required to carry liability insurance.
Though aircraft accidents occur much less frequently than automobile accidents, they can cause more damage and more severe injuries. Injuries include:
- Injuries from luggage falling from overhead bins
- Turbulence throwing passengers from their seats
- Fractures from impact and inertia
- Spinal injuries (including partial or full paralysis)
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
Due to the speed and might of airplanes, accidents and crashes involving them generally lead to more severe injuries that can be devastating to victims and their family members. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney can help you recover adequate compensation for treatment and recovery. Please contact the Brod Law Firm for a free case evaluation if you or a loved one has been a victim of an aviation disaster or accident.