Anytime there is a plane crash or aviation accident, people are told that air travel is safer than driving a car. However, that does not mean that accidents don't happen on planes, and when they do, they can be devastating. Aviation accidents often result in death. Even minor aviation accidents can result in serious injuries for pilots and passengers alike.
Single-Engine Plane Accidents
While major plane crashes make worldwide news, single-engine plane crashes rarely get beyond the local paper. However, these are some of the most common aviation accidents in the country. Since 1964, more than 45,000 people have been killed in small plane and helicopter accidents. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), there have been over 1,200 aviation accidents every year for at least the past two decades. The vast majority of these accidents involve small, single-engine planes. In 2014, there were 1,221 aviation accidents resulting in over 400 fatalities.
Over the past 20 years, while major airline safety has gotten better, aviation in general, has remained about steady. The total number of accidents has gone down; however, the number of accidents by flight hours has changed little. In 2014, there were 6.74 accidents with 1.4 fatalities per 100,000 flight hours. In 1999, there were 6.50 accidents with 1.16 fatalities per 100,000 flight hours.
According to one report, private planes may be even more dangerous than cars. In 2013, the rate of fatalities for automobiles was approximately 1.1 per every 2 million driving hours, which would compare to 21 aviation fatalities per every 2 million flight hours. In the past ten years, the accident rate in personal, private flights has increased by 20 percent, and the fatality rate for personal flights has increased by 25%.
Causes of Small Plane Accidents
Aviation accidents can occur at any time during plane operation, including take-off, ascent, flight, descent, and landing. The majority of aviation accidents occur when a pilot loses control of the plane in-flight. Another common cause of accidents involves the pilot losing sight or perspective of the ground, a body of water, or other obstacles until it is too late to avoid a collision. Loss of fuel during flight also leads to accidents. Bad landings are a common cause of non-fatal airplane accidents.
The majority of private plane accidents are attributed to pilot error. However, an investigation by USA Today found that there were serious defects in small planes that lead to a number of fatal accidents. Airplane manufacturers were aware of the problems, but lied to federal regulators, failed to fix the problems, and never notified pilots. Some manufacturers have paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements, which can be kept private, rather than face a public trial.
The defects found in the investigation include fuel tanks that easily rupture and catch fire, pilot seat malfunctions resulting in loss of control, ice-protection system failure, leaking exhaust systems, and flooding engines that cause mid-air engine failures. Despite some of these known problems, some plane crashes involving these defects are still attributed to pilot error.
Aviation Accident Injuries
When an aviation accident occurs in mid-air, the result is often death for the pilot and any passengers. However, even minor accidents during takeoff or landing can result in serious injury. This includes head or neck injury, back injury, broken bones, burns, cutting injuries, and internal injuries. A pilot can also become trapped in the cockpit after a crash, which leads to greater injury and an increased risk of death.
A serious aviation accident can result in emergency medical treatment, extensive surgery, lengthy hospital stay, and require long-term medical care. In some cases, the pilot may never fully recover from their injuries, requiring treatment and physical accommodations for the rest of their lives.
Aviation Accident Lawsuits
If someone is injured in an aviation accident, they can file a lawsuit to seek compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, property damage, and pain and suffering. If a family has lost a loved one in an aviation accident, they can file a wrongful death claim against the individuals or companies responsible for the death.
Filing a lawsuit after an aviation accident can be extremely complicated. Most plane accident claims include multiple defendants, including the airplane manufacturer, the company responsible for maintenance and upkeep, and any other party that may be involved in the accident. Aviation accidents may have to be filed in federal court, with service on foreign corporations. Talk to your attorney about your case, to make sure you can file your claim in time, identify all the necessary parties, and file the case in the proper court.
Airplane Accident Attorneys
If you or a loved one was injured in an aviation accident, you should talk to an experienced Maryland personal injury attorney about getting compensation for your lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. Airplane companies will have lawyers representing them, so it is only fair that you have a personal injury attorney to help guide you through the claims process and fight for you. You should not have to suffer due to someone else's negligence. Do not hesitate to call Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation.