Air travel is generally safer than travel by car. However, accidents do occur in single-engine planes, commercial airliners, helicopters, gliders, and hot air balloons. When these accidents involve only a couple of people the accident rarely makes national news. However, when accidents do occur in the air the consequences can be deadly.
In 2015, U.S. air carriers flew over 7.6 billion miles, flying for over 17 million hours, representing almost 9 million departures. In all those flights there were zero reported fatalities. There were 27 injuries, which amounts to 0.0035 accidents per million miles flown. Instead, the majority of aviation accidents and fatalities occur in general aviation.
Most plane crashes involve small, single-engine planes. Since the mid-1960s, over 45,000 people have been killed in single-engine plane and helicopter accidents. There continues to be over 1,200 aviation accidents every year. The accident rate in personal aircraft flights has actually increased by 20% over the past decade, and the fatality rate has gone up 25%.
Aviation accidents can occur at any time, including takeoff, landing, in-flight travel, and even while the plane is sitting on the runway. Most aviation accidents involve pilot error, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Of these accidents, most involve the pilot losing control of the plane during flight or while attempting to land. This includes losing an engine during takeoff or stalling out at a low altitude. Other causes of aviation accidents involve low-visibility due to weather, losing perspective of the ground or water, and loss of fuel.
Some accidents have nothing to do with the pilot and are instead caused by defects in the manufacture of the plane. A USA Today report found that defective parts and design defects were responsible for a number of aviation crashes, injuries, and deaths. In many cases, the plane manufacturers and parts manufacturers were aware of the defects, but failed to remedy the defects and failed to inform pilots. In some cases, the airplane companies misled federal regulators about the problems.
According to the article, plane manufacturers have paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements. When the cases go to court, plane companies such as Cessna Aircraft, Mitsubishi Aircraft, Lycoming Engines, and Bell Helicopter have been found liable for causing fatal plane crashes. Some of the reported defects include fuel tanks that can catch fire, pilot seat defects, helicopter blades that can separate from the mast, and engines that flood resulting in midair engine failure.
Helicopter accident rates have dropped in the past decade; however, they are still responsible for thousands of injuries and fatalities. Helicopters also crash at a higher rate than other aircraft. Helicopter injury accidents can be caused by pilot inexperience, pilot error, pilot impairment, weather, loss of power in flight, loss of control of the helicopter, collision with fixed objects, hard landings, and rollover accidents. Most helicopter accidents involve personal flights, or during flight instruction and training.
Aviation injuries can range from minor injuries to serious injuries or death. Because many accidents occur midair at altitude or during landing at high speeds, the results are often fatal. Even minor accidents can lead to serious injuries. Injuries in some aviation accidents can be similar to car accident injuries, including head trauma, neck or back injury, broken bones, burn injuries, and lacerations.
When emergency services are able to quickly respond to a plane crash, surviving pilots and passengers have a greater chance to recover from their injuries. However, if the individuals are trapped in the wreckage, the more time it takes to get them out of the plane can increase their risk of fatality or serious injury. Even after treatment, some plane or helicopter accident victims may suffer life-long pain and disfigurement.
The individuals responsible for the aviation accident should compensate those who are injured. An aviation accident attorney can represent accident victims and their families to seek compensation from the negligent pilot, airplane company, or airplane manufacturer. Through filing a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death lawsuit, the injured individuals and their families can make sure those responsible are held accountable for their actions.
Aviation Accident Attorneys
If you or a loved one was injured in an aviation accident, you should contact an experienced D.C. personal injury attorney about getting compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. Your attorney will help guide you through the claims process and fight for you to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. You should not have to suffer due to someone else's negligence. Do not hesitate to call Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation.