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Aviation Accidents: How To Determine Cause


With more and more people flying each year, the risk of passengers being involved in an aviation accident increases too. Although traveling by air is generally considered to be a safe means of transportation, when aviation accidents occur they can result in severe injuries and fatalities. In fact, accidents involving private aircrafts happen more frequently than most people realize.

The federal National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigates major aircraft crashes to assess and determine the factors that caused the accident. Unfortunately, the NTSB is not always able to uncover the exact cause of an accident or identify all the factors that resulted in injury. Sometimes, the FBI, the Federal Aviation Agency Administration (FAA), and independent investigators will also investigate the cause of an aviation accident.

When an airplane accident involves an American airline, a lawsuit can be filed in United States courts. Victims of the accident can recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and noneconomic damages. If the airplane accident is international, the Warsaw Convention and the Montreal Convention regulations might apply.

The Montreal Convention provides advance payments and the possibility of suing from a passenger's place of residence. The Convention also requires air carriers to maintain sufficient insurance. As of 2003, air carriers can be held strictly liable for proven damages of up to $138,000 for each United States passenger. However, the amount of liability can be limited unless an injured passenger can prove "willful misconduct" by the air carrier.

Common causes of aviation accidents include:

  • Pilot Error
  • Pilot Negligence
  • Mechanical Error
  • Thunderstorms Or Windshear
  • Midair Collisions
  • Systems Failure
  • Fuel Exhaustion Or Contamination
  • Low Altitude Operations
  • Controlled Flight Into Terrain

Do you have more questions about aviation accidents? Contact The Law Offices of David Henderson to schedule a free case evaluation with an Anchorage aviation accident attorney.