Airplane accidents can be devastating and almost always result in serious injuries or death to those involved. Both commercial and private aircraft are at risk for accidents, especially if flying conditions are less than favorable. If you or a loved one was involved in a plane crash, contact our Illinois aviation accident lawyers at 618-277-3644 today.
Each aircraft accident is unique and comes with its own set of facts and circumstances. In many cases, there will be more than one cause of the crash. Some commonly known instances of aircraft accidents, among both commercial and general (private) aviation accidents are:
- Aircraft controller negligence
- Failure to follow FAA recommendations for safety inspections
- Failure to follow de-icing procedures
- Faulty aircraft
- Improper accreditation of pilot
- Negligent design
- Negligent maintenance
- Negligent repair
- Pilot error
Aircraft Accident Investigations
After an aircraft accident, a thorough investigation usually occurs. The chief investigative body in the U.S. for aircraft accidents is the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The NTSB has specialty teams whose sole purpose is to investigate aircraft accidents. These teams are usually sent to the site of an aircraft accident within 24 hours. In aircraft accidents that occur in other countries, those countries will typically have their own investigative personnel, such as the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) in the United Kingdom or the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (BST/TSB). If an accident involves an American registered airliner, involves loss of American life, or the aircraft involved was built by an American company, the NTSB will dispatch a team to assist in the investigation.
The investigation of the NTSB or the home-country’s civil aviation authority is predominantly focused on the cause of the crash. In commercial aviation accidents, they are usually focused on the retrieval of the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and the flight data recorder (FDR), also known as “the black box.” These recorders track a variety of instrument readings in addition to the communications of the pilots, and often can reveal the cause of the accident. In private aircraft, however, there is usually no “black box” and thus there is usually less information available to be analyzed.
The NTSB will work with a host of different parties to reach a determination on the cause of the accident. Typically, a representative of the airline manufacturer, and a representative of the airline pilot’s union will be included in the investigation to assist and offer their input. The families and victims of the accident are typically given an NTSB liason who distributes information to them regarding the status and progress of the investigation.
An investigation into the cause of the crash may include visiting the site, reconstructing the aircraft, reviewing weather data, and reviewing mechanical data on the aircraft among other things. Though an investigation can last years, at the conclusion of the investigation the NTSB will release the information its developed to the public. However, these reports will not contain the actual recommendation of the NTSB as to the factual cause of the crash.
Though it is not required to do so, the NTSB may elect to hold hearings regarding the crash that are open to the public. Family members of victims and any surviving victims will be invited to attend and will receive special considerations, including special seating and access to non-public information regarding the aircraft accident.
At some point, the NTSB will release findings as to the likely cause of the crash, in addition to recommendations for changing safety procedures, quality control measures, or any other recommendation to address some factor which caused or contributed to the crash. If the NTSB so chooses, a public discussion, typically referred to as a “sunshine hearing,” may be held. The NTSB’s findings and recommendations are forwarded to the Federal Aviation Administration for action, and to any other agencies which may have regulatory power over groups like aircraft manufacturers or pilots, which were found to have caused, or contributed to the accident.
Typically, the NTSB will release a final accident report detailing all aspects of the crash, including the suspected causes of the accident. The NTSB will then distribute the recommended corrective action directives which it deems necessary to avoid a repeat occurrence. The ultimate authority, however, resides with the FAA to implement such recommendations, as the NTSB has no power to force airline manufacturers, or any other party, to adopt the proposed recommendations. Nonetheless, even where the FAA elects to take action, , these changes can take years to implement.
Obtaining Compensation After an Aircraft Accident
Being a victim, or a family member of a victim, of an aircraft accident can be a traumatic experience. The damages suffered can be life altering. Our experienced litigators are here to help victims and their families obtain fair compensation for aircraft accident victims.
Though aircraft operators may offer small amounts of money to victims and their families after a crash, they will often not admit liability and such sums do not even begin to account for the damages suffered. You need an experienced litigation firm to advocate for you or your loved ones to ensure that proper compensation is awarded.
Compensation may be available for the following past and future losses:
- Emotional distress
- Loss of quality of life or loss of normal life
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
- Wage loss
Illinois Aircraft Accident Lawyers From The Cates Law Firm, LLC Will Help You
At The Cates Law Firm, LLC we strive to ensure that every victim, and, if appropriate, their loved ones, receive compensation for their devastating losses resulting from an aircraft accident. If a friend, or a loved one has been injured or killed in an aircraft accident or plane crash, whether it be a commercial airline accident or a general / private aircraft accident, we are here to speak with you.