Aviation Accidents

Nashville Aviation Accident Attorney

Not every aviation accident case is the same:

  • A helicopter may crash because of a defective part.
  • A commercial jet airliner could crash-land because of an equipment malfunction.
  • A private airplane may crash because the pilot made a bad judgment.
  • A charter plane could go down due to poor maintenance.
  • A new aircraft might be destroyed in an accident because it was poorly designed.

Aviation accidents, though rare, are often fatal, and the families of victims may not know where to turn when it comes to determining fault, collecting damages, and ensuring that their rights are protected in the aftermath of a crash. It is very important to contact a lawyer whose practice focuses on aviation claims.

Our Tennessee Aviation Accident Lawyers Will Fight For Your Maximum Recovery

The same Federal Aviation Administration regulations that apply to commercial carriers may not apply to private aviators, and the laws that apply to plane and helicopter crashes are complicated. If you or your loved one has been involved in an aviation accident, you need to contact an attorney who understands aviation law.

From their offices in Nashville and Lebanon, Tennessee, the aviation attorneys at Keith Williams Law Group handle claims for clients statewide and nationwide. Keith Williams has handled claims involving helicopter accidents as well as private airplane and commercial airline crashes. He represented the family of a passenger who died aboard the commercial airliner Comair 5191, the commuter jet that crashed in Kentucky after taking off from the wrong runway. Mr. Williams served on the plaintiffs’ steering committee and trial team in that suit against Comair and Delta Air Lines.

Whether your case involves a large plane, small plane, or a helicopter-whether the aviator is commercial or private-the lawyers at Keith Williams Law Group will act swiftly to determine the correct approach.

What do aviation attorneys do for you and your family?

Preserve the wreckage for evidence gathering:

  • interview witnesses
  • evaluate liability
  • identify jurisdictional issues
  • protect your rights during interviews with authorities and insurance representative

Tennessee Aviation Attorney Keith Williams is a board certified Civil Trial Specialist with a focus on aviation accident cases in three general areas:

Contact Tennessee’s Best Aviation Attorney Today

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a Tennessee aviation accident, place crash, helicopter crash or any other type of airplane accident call and speak to an experienced personal injury attorney at Keith Williams Law Group at 615-313-3999.

 

Aviation Accidents Frequently Asked Questions

What is “dual transmission” in airplane radio traffic?

“Dual Transmission” is a potentially deadly event that occurs in radio traffic, specifically in airplane to airplane or airplane to tower communications, when two parties are “queuing” or talking at the same time. The result is one or both get “stepped on” and the message is garbled.

Preliminary FAA reports that this was the fundamental cause of a close call incident at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. The tower had cleared Southwest Flight 3828 for takeoff but he was stepped on by Delta Flight 1328 (note the similarity of flight numbers). The Delta flight thought he was cleared and began his take off at the same time the Southwest flight did. They were on intersecting runways and headed for a collision when an alert tower operator saw what was happening and radioed “Delta 1328, Stop! Stop! Stop!”. Both flights aborted their takeoffs.

Who makes the decision on when to close an airport – the FAA or the airport?

The local airport is responsible for making the call to close the airport to incoming, outgoing or both traffic in response to an emergency or bad weather. In the recent Delta Flight 1086 who skidded off the runway and into a burm in bad weather at LaGuardia, the FAA will actually investigate the airport to see if it should have closed prior to the crash. The tower told the pilot braking condition were “good”, but apparently they were not. If the airport is judged to have made a made decision in not closing sooner, they could face a fine by the FAA and also be held partially legally liable for any injuries suffered as a result of the accident.

Can the U.S. Federal Government be held liable in a plane crash or other aviation accident?

Yes, and it is often found to be at least partially at fault.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) maintains and operates the Air Traffic Control (ATC) system for the United States. The FFA is responsible for controlling air traffic throughout the country. In cases of mid-air collisions or runway incursions, it should be determined whether the ATC met all of their duties to the public. If the negligence of ATC personnel caused or contributed to the accident, the ATC, FAA and the Federal Government can be held liable for any damages that result.

What is rapid depressurization in an airplane and how does it happen?

Humans cannot breathe above 10,000 feet, the air is too thin. Also, at that altitude and higher, the air gets colder and colder. If a plane is flying at 15,000 feet and the cabin depressurizes, an oxygen mask should allow the pilot enough oxygen to decrease altitude so people will have enough oxygen to live until the plane has landed. However, sudden cases of depressurization (the door blowing out of the plane) or gradual depressurizing (so gradual that the pilot just feels drowsy and gets too confused to think clearly, then does not put on their mask) can cause fatal crashes. In most instances of depressurization, there are reports of the windows “frosting” over. This is cause by super cooled air in the airplane that causes condensation on the windows to freeze.

Why is the near collision of two airplanes called a “near miss”?

It really should be a “near collison” since the planes almost hit each other. A “near miss” however, is considered by the industry to be when two planes come too near each other’s airspace, but miss each other and therefore don’t crash. It’s a bit confusing to the public. The FAA defines a near miss in reported incidences and it is then up the airport and affected airlines to resolve whatever issues set the two planes up for a “near miss” (also called a “close call” or “gift”).

A sharp increase in the number of near misses had put the focus on pilot’s over-reliance on automation, especially during take-off and landing of airplanes, prompting many watchdog agencies to call for requirements in pilot training that focus more on hand on flying and not reliance in instruments during the crucial times of taking off and landing.

We are representing several passengers injured in a hard landing at Laguardia on a Southwest flight departing Nashville. A hard landing is also a “controlled crash” and occurs when the pilot lands too fast, too hard, too slow or any other factors that cause severe stress (sometimes snapping the landing gear) but doesn’t result in what the airlines industry calls a “crash”. Still, several hundred people are injured every year in “hard landings” in the United States.

What is the NTSB or National Transportation Safety Board?

The NTSB or National Transportation Safety Board is an independent federal agency with the duty ofinvestigating civil, governmental and military aviation accidents throughout the United States. This duty also includes trains accidents as well as other accidents involving tractor trailers and consumers vehicles.

After an investigation is complete, the NTSB issues safety recommendations in hopes of preventing future similar accidents. The NTSB maintains the United States government’s database of all civil, governmental and military aviation accidents. In addition to it’s duties in the aviation field, the NTSB conducts special studies concerning transportation safety issues that may affect the Nation as a whole.

When an overseas aviation accident involves a U.S. – registered aircraft and/or the aircraft or its major components were manufactured in the U.S., the NTSB also provides investigators to serve as U.S. representative when requested to do so by a foreign government.

What is the FAA or Federal Aviation Administration?

The FAA or Federal Aviation Administration is the U.S. government agency which is responsible for the safety of civil aviation in United States. It is a separate and independent agency from the NTSB or National Transportation Safety Board.

After an aviation disaster – or even a minor runway incursion, the NTSB may make safety recommendations to the FAA. It is up to the FAA of whether to follow those recommendations.

Recently, Tennessee Aviation Attorney Keith Williams was asked to serve on the faculty of the American Bar Association’s Aviation Conference in New York City to discuss how to handle NTSB reports in an aviation case.

What law applies to a commercial aviation disaster case?

The answer to this depends largely on the answer to the following three questions:

1.  First, the final destination of the ticket may determine what law applies

2.  Second, the location where the accident occurred may determine the applicable law and

3.  Lastly, where the victim and responsible parties involved lived may be determinative.

If the accident occurred inside the United States, the person injured in an aircraft accident may bring a claim along with his or her spouse, who is entitled to compensation for the loss of support, services and other benefits that married couples provide to each other.

In the case of death, most U.S. states including Tennessee provide that the decedent’s spouse and children, if any, are entitled to sue for damages. Some states like Kentucky provide for individual suits by each minor for damages for loss of parental consortium.

The damages recoverable for wrongful death cases vary widely among states and countries.  Some states such as New York only permit recovery of financial losses that the estate suffered had the deceased not been killed.  Some states allow recovery for loss of love and affection and others do not.

For accidents involving international flights or domestic flights where the final destination of the trip is outside the continental United States, the Montreal Convention often will apply.   This treaty restricts where the airline can be sued and what types of damages are recoverable. The passenger’s travel itinerary becomes very important in these cases. Only an experienced international aviation lawyer will be familiar with the law in this area.

What is “automation addiction” in commercial airline pilots?

Human error has been documented as the primary contributor to more than 70% of commercial airplane hull-loss accidents. From Asiana Airlines #214, Air France #447, Southwest #345 and Colgan Air #3407 to the introduction of glass cockpit avionics into general aviation aircraft, emphasized training on systems analysis, as well as human factors issues including pilots’ reluctance and/or inability to “hand fly” the aircraft, have played a role in several recent preventable losses and given rise to the term “automation addiction.”

What legal protections are given to families of victims of airplane crashes?

Since the history of commercial flight until 1996, there were no guidelines in place governing post-response communications to survivors or family members of the victims of an airplane crash.  This resulted in additional and unneccesary painful experiences for people already suffering from shattering losses. They could not get confirmation their loved one was dead, they could not recover their body for burial because they did not know where the body was, they often found out critical and personal information at press conferences along with the rest of the world, they had no access to grief counselors and more.  The twin catalysts for congressional action were the crashes of TWA 800 off Long Island and ValueJet 592 in the Florida Everglades. Everyone onboard these two flights were killed in the crash and the ensuing melee involving the victims families prompted the passing of the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act.

Some of the things that airplane crash victims’ families are entitled to under the 1996 Act are:

  • Family members should be given time to notify other relatives before passengers’ names are made public
  • Grief counseling for families
  • Hotel rooms and food available to the surviving loved ones. 
  • Assistance for family members in retrieving dental records and X-rays to identify the victims
  • Transportation to and from the crash site.
  • Assistance for family members about memorial services
  • A family assistance hotline

Now families are provided private places to grieve without the intrusion of the press or public and they have one liaision person who is responsible for funneling critical information to them. There is an independent director for the whole response for that particular crash and the support does not end for the families until that director is safisfied that all the needs that can be met are met.  Once families have been able to bury their family member, they will still need information from the investigation made available to them, and their Tennessee Aviation Attorney, prior to its release to the public. They could also require grief counseling for years.  While it is sad that it took two back to back tragedies to put this need in the spotlight, it is good to know that family members have access to support that they need after they lose a loved on in an airplane crash.

Keith Williams

images

What Rights Does the 1999 Montreal Convention Give Victim’s Families?

he family members of passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 have many rights and remedies.   Because Malaysia is a signatory to the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air or better known as the 1999 Montreal Convention, this is where we would look to determine those rights and remedies.   This treaty governs the several rights of the passenger’s and their family members.  Among these rights and remedies are determination of the venue where a lawsuit may be brought against Malaysia Airlines and limits on the airline’s liability.

The Montreal Convention provides several venue choices for claims for damages to be filed:

(i) Where the airline has its principal place of business or incorporation,

(ii) Where the ticket was bought if the airline does business there,

(iii) The place of the passenger’s destination (which would be the final destination on a round trip ticket or trips with one or more stops)

(iv) The place where the passenger has his or her “principal and permanent” residence if the airline does business there.

Keith  Jim

How does the Warsaw Convention of 1928 affect families of victims of international plane crashes?

Representatives from different countries gathered in Warsaw Poland in 1929 and enacted the Warsaw Convention articles. Before this enactment, there was no standard of control over compensation, liability, or safety practices of international carriers. The maximum limit a family could recover due to the death of a loved one killed in a plane crash outside of the United States was originally set at $8,500. The articles were changed in 1955, 1975 and in 1999 and now the maximum amount recoverable for the death of a loved one killed outside of the the U.S. in a plane crash is $135,000. The intercarrier agreement did waive the limit in some instances, but $135,000 is still the general maximum a victim’s survivors can expect to recover from such an event.

Who is entitled to file a lawsuit for injuries resulting from an airplane or helicopter accident?

Who is entitled to file a lawsuit for injuries resulting from an airplane or helicopter accident?

Answer:

If the airplane or helicopter crash causes an injury to an individual, normally only that person has the right to bring file a lawsuit or file a claim for those injuries. If the injuries occur to a minor child then the parents of that child has the right to bring the cause of action for the injuries on behalf of the minor child. If the parents of a minor child have to pay medical bills caused by the accident then the parents have an individual cause of action to recover for the medical expenses. If the injured person is injured to the extent that a conservatorship is required, then the conservator would have the right to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the incompetent injured person.

All of the above scenarios are based on Tennessee law. Each scenario may vary somewhat from state to state depending on the particular laws of the state where the lawsuit is filed.

If a family member or other loved one has been the victim of an aviation disaster you need an experienced aviation attorney. Please call or click to speak directly with B. Keith Williams.

Contact Us Online @ Tennessee Aviation Attorney

Toll Free – 1.866.820.4457
Nashville – 615.313.3999
Lebanon – 615.444.2900

What is the difference in the “Statute of Limitations” and the “Statute of Repose” in an aviation case?

In the context of aviation litigation, a “Statute of Limitation” is a legislative imposed limit on the time in which a lawsuit may be filed. It differs from a “Statute of Repose” in that the latter has to do with how long an airplane or part has been in service. The applicable time periods varies depending on the jurisdiction in which your case would be filed.
In Tennessee for example the “Statute of Limitations” is One yers from the negligent act causing the crash. The “Statute of Repose” is much longer and would depend on the particular facts of the case.

If a family member or other loved one has been the victim of an aviation disaster you need an experienced aviation attorney. Please call or click to speak directly with B. Keith Williams.

Contact Us Online @ Tennessee Aviation Attorney

Toll Free – 1.866.820.4457
Nashville – 615.313.3999
Lebanon – 615.444.2900

©2015 Williams Law Group, All Rights Reserved
Reproduced with Permission Privacy Policy | Site Map
Personal Injury Lawyer Services - Our clients have rated us in their 45 testimonials as a 5 star legal service

Scroll to top
Click for live chat!