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Did you get hurt or lose a loved one in a plane accident? Our plane accident attorneys at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., are here to help. We’ll work with the authorities to uncover what happened and who was at fault. When we know more, we can guide you in demanding fair compensation for your injuries. Depending on the circumstances, we might recommend filing a lawsuit against one or more people or businesses, such as the pilot and airline or plane owner. Winning you fair compensation will be our top priority.
To learn more about how we handle plane accidents in Illinois, contact us through our online form or call (312) 236-2900. We offer free, no-risk consultations.
Types of Illinois Plane Accidents
There are commercial flights, and then there are private and personal planes. Commercial flights carry a large number of passengers, and overall, are safe. Though large commercial airlines have had significant and fatal accidents, they aren’t common. But commercial air carriers are responsible for many other types of accidents, including passengers injured onboard a plane or while boarding or disembarking. For example, a passenger could slip and fall on a ramp, or one passenger could assault another during a flight.
Smaller airplanes, though, that are either privately owned or chartered, are in many more accidents, including deadly crashes. These are known as general aviation accidents.
Commercial, chartered, and private planes can experience:
- Runway collisions (incursions): A plane might collide with another plane, vehicle, object, or individual on the runway or tarmac that isn’t supposed to be there. This is more formally known as the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle, object, or person in a protected area.
- Landing accidents (runway excursions): A pilot might not land the plane properly and either miss the runway or veer off the runway and into a body of water, roadway, or other terrains. Runway excursion accidents also can happen during takeoff.
- Colliding with objects: Planes might collide with objects while on the ground or in the air.
- Crash landings: Circumstances might cause a pilot to attempt an emergency landing, and do so poorly, causing serious injuries or fatalities. A pilot also might lose control of the plane and crash.
Common Causes of Plane Accidents
Airplane accidents happen for a variety of reasons, including:
- Equipment failure: An important piece of equipment might malfunction or fail because of a design defect, manufacturer defect, inadequate inspections, or inadequate maintenance.
- Pilot error: Though pilots should be highly trained and cautious, many accidents happen because of a mistake or miscalculation.
- Communication error: Traffic control is essential to safe air travel. A miscommunication between a pilot, air traffic control, and ground crew can lead to a serious accident. These are also known as operational incidents.
- Bad weather: Hazardous conditions can lead to serious accidents, despite an airline or pilot’s best intentions.
- Inadequate runway maintenance: Runways need to be clear and safe for takeoffs and landings. A runway that isn’t cleared of snow, ice, and other objects or that has broken lights could contribute to an accident.
Plane Crash Investigations
Most plane crashes are investigated by federal authorities, but not by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA regulates most aspects of air travel in the U.S., including pilot training, air traffic control, and plane maintenance. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigates all major aviation accidents. We carefully review the NTSB report. Its findings might be crucial to your legal claim.
Liability for a Plane Accident in Chicago
After being hurt or losing a loved one in a plane accident, you need to figure out who was at fault and who is liable for compensating you. That may or may not be the same party.
Potentially liable parties include:
- Plane owner
- Air traffic controller
- Maintenance provider
A pilot might be found at fault and liable for an airplane accident. But, in some cases, a pilot’s fault will not mean the pilot owes you and others compensation. If the pilot is employed by a company, like a major airline, then we’ll pursue compensation from that airline. Employers are liable for the negligent conduct of their on-duty employees, which is a legal doctrine known as respondeat superior.
The owner of the plane might be liable, whether it was a small, private plane or a commercial airline. The owner might be liable for your injuries because they negligently entrusted their plane to a pilot that they knew wouldn’t fly the aircraft safely. This could be because the pilot wasn’t adequately trained or licensed, had a history of accidents or complaints, or was intoxicated. An investigation might uncover the owner of the plane rented it to someone without checking their qualifications.
A negligent air traffic controller could be at-fault for the crash. Air traffic controllers are federal employees. Your claim would be against an arm of the federal government, which means it’s governed by the Federal Torts Claim Act. Your case will move forward differently than if it were against a private party.
If we discover a defect caused the plane accident, then a manufacturer, supplier, or retailer might be liable. The businesses that were part of the supply chain in designing, making, and selling the airplane might be liable under strict liability. This legal doctrine means a business can be held responsible for injuries its product causes, even if they weren’t negligent.
Once the plane is built, purchased, and used, another company might conduct inspections, make repairs, and provide routine maintenance. This could be the airline carrier, but it also could be a third party hired by the airline. If it negligently inspected, maintained, or repaired the plane, and the remaining defect caused an accident, this business might be liable.
Limitations on Plane Accident Damages
Several international treaties limit the damages airlines conducting international flights are responsible for. Under the Warsaw Convention, airlines are responsible for damages that arise when someone boards or exist the plane. But monetary limits on their liability exist unless you can prove the carrier is responsible for willful misconduct. Under the Montreal Agreement, airlines damages for intentional flight accidents are limited, as well. This applies to international flights that stopped in or had a point of departure in the U.S. If you were injured or lost a loved one on a domestic flight, which took off and landed in the U.S., then different laws apply to your case. Your lawyer will analyze which state or federal law applies to your case and whether an international treaty is relevant.
Talk with a Chicago Plane Accident Lawyer Today
After being hurt or losing a relative in a plane accident, talk with Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. We are experienced personal injury lawyers and wrongful death attorneys. We’ll determine who is liable for your injuries and pursue compensation through litigation and settlement negotiations.
To schedule your free consultation, call us at (312) 236-2900, or send us your information through our online form.