What Are Aviation Laws?
Domestic Aviation Law
Aviation law covers almost all legal issues that affect aircraft and airport operations, including aircraft navigation maintenance, air traffic control safety, consumer rights, and pilot licensing requirements. Aviation lawsuits may involve parties that provide air travel services, such as airlines, pilots, maintenance crews, security personnel, and air traffic controllers. Aviation lawsuits may also affect individuals that purchase air travel services, such as every-day passengers and couriers.
The airline industry is one of the most regulated and subsidized industries in the country. Airline lawsuits typically include federal claims and involve federal laws and regulations on aviation. States have little authority to pass aviation laws, however, they may pass laws that are consistent with federal aviation law, as well as pass zoning laws that dictate the hours of operation and noise levels of local airports. Airlines have dedicated agencies that regulate them and set standards. For example, if there is an issue with an individual that has a disability and wants to be accommodated on a flight, that issue falls under the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 (“FAA”), and more specifically, under the Federal Air Carrier Access Act subsection. Most aviation regulations and standards are enforced by the FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) and the Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”). These three agencies serve as the primary federal agencies that regulate air travel.
- The NTSB investigates civil airline accident lawsuits in the U.S. and issues safety recommendations to prevent future aviation accidents.
- The TSA checks baggage and screens passengers for security threats.
International Aviation Laws
Due to the international nature of air travel, countries have entered into treaties known as conventions to normalize the aviation laws that regulate airlines and set forth the rights of international passengers. For example, any airplane accidents that occur in the course of international carriage (which includes the domestic connections of longer international trips) are governed by the Montreal Convention. The Montreal Convention limits the liability of airlines for accidents on international flights. The Montreal Convention imposes strict liability in the event of death or injury to passengers – meaning that the airline is not allowed to put up any defenses for damages up to a certain amount. The Montreal Convention also provides advance payments to meet the needs of the victims’ family members. There are five different jurisdictions in which a suit can be commenced.
The Montreal Convention determines whether a passenger’s emotional and physical injuries are compensable and viable as part of a broader aviation lawsuit. Attorneys at The Eichholz Law Firm are experienced and dedicated to clients to determine the likelihood of success in individual aviation lawsuits brought on behalf of injured passengers, staff, and their families.
Common Aviation Law Issues
In April 1972, Ralph Nader booked a flight on Allegheny Airlines (“AA”) from Washington D.C. to Hartford, Connecticut. AA booked 107 passengers with 100 seats. AA told Nader that they would give him an alternate flight with a connecting flight that was to travel at a different schedule. Nader took a flight to Boston and sued AA. The case went up to the United States Supreme Court. The court held that passengers have a private right of action to sue an airline for overbooking. Nader v. Allegheny Airlines, Inc., 426 U.S. 290 (1976).
What governs a passenger’s relationship to an airline is the airlines’ contract of carriage. This contract lays out the airlines’ responsibilities, which is generally to transport you from one destination to another. However, issues involving weather that may cause a flight to cancel may allow the airline to put an individual on another flight. If passengers or consumers are denied boarding, they are entitled to airline compensation under the Department of Transportation rules. Consumers are entitled to airline compensation based on the length of time that it takes them to get to their final destination. Airline compensation amounts can vary depending on the price of their ticket and the length of the delay.
Who Is Liable in an Aviation Lawsuit
When there has been an airplane accident, the authorities will invariably be dispatched to conduct an investigation of that crash. The end result of the investigation will most likely be that something went wrong or that someone or something specific is to blame. Once the responsible party has been established, it paves the way for a lawsuit. Here are some of the possible defendants in an aviation lawsuit:
- Aircraft manufacturer – There could have been a defect in the aircraft that caused the accident. This would involve a product liability and wrongful death suit against the maker of the aircraft.
- The airline – The airline is always an obvious defendant. They could have been negligent in flying the airplane. Alternatively, they may not have performed the proper maintenance necessary to prevent mechanical issues.
- Any third parties – This could include an outside party that was hired to maintain the aircraft or the airport if the crash was caused by their actions during takeoff or landing. This may also encompass a company that manufactured a part of the airplane that failed and caused the crash.
Potential Claims For an Aviation Lawsuit
The airline lawyers at The Eichholz Law Firm specialize in a variety of airline lawsuits. Circumstances that may give rise to compensable claims for airline lawsuits include:
- Commercial airline crashes that include domestic and foreign flights which may or may not lead to a fatal loss of life.
- Airplane sexual assault, which can occur during a flight or while boarding or disembarking the airline.
- Pilot licensing requirements and issues
- General airplane accidents that involve private jets or small plane crashes that include corporate or charter aircraft.
- Airport accidents in the form of personal injuries, accidents, equipment malfunctions and other claims that are sustained during the course of boarding or disembarking the aircraft.
- Airplane accidents that injure passengers while they are on board
- Airplane injury occurring from harmful or hazardous conditions such as dangerous fumes and chemicals.
- Helicopter accidents that may involve corporate, private or medical helicopters.
- Violations of passenger rights as set forth and defined by the FAA, NTSB, and TSA.
- Injuries sustained by pilots, flight attendants, and other airline employees over the course of their employment.
Claims for the above reasons can be made in an aviation lawsuit when suing an airline, airport, aircraft manufacturer, or any other party responsible for injuries. Our aviation injury lawyers can help victims put together a strong case based on their specific aviation lawsuit claim.
Airplane Sexual Assault
Airplane sexual assault is a federal crime and if you are assaulted on an airplane, you should immediately notify the aircraft crew, who will report the incident to law enforcement personnel on the ground. If you have experienced sexual assault during a flight and did not report the assault before landing, or if the aircraft crew assisting you failed to properly report the assault, you should contact your local law enforcement agency as well as retain an airplane injury lawyer as soon as possible.
What Causes Aviation Accidents?
Fortunately, not all injuries that occur on an aircraft or at airports are catastrophic. Aviation accidents occur for many reasons and the exact cause will depend on the circumstances of each individual case. Less severe injuries often occur as a result of turbulence, failure to properly secure overhead bins and luggage, and defects in plane parts such as passenger seats and oxygen masks, and the failure to respond to emergency medical situations. The vast majority of aviation accidents occur at a relatively low height – either before, during or after take-off or landing. The most common cause of aviation accidents is human error, usually by the pilot (53% of all accidents are done by the pilot). Some other causes of aviation accidents are:
- Mechanical failure – One in every five airplane accidents is a result of some sort of mechanical failure, whether the problem arises from the aircraft, its equipment or one particular part.
- Defects in design and manufacture of aircraft and its components – Equipment can fail, there can be structural or design problems and if the aircraft is not maintained or repaired properly, then faulty maintenance can contribute to an aviation accident.
- Air traffic control error – Airplane accidents can occur during maintenance work, fueling, or while loading the aircraft.
- Mistakes or accidents caused by aircraft crew members
- Weather – Airplane accidents can be a result of bad weather conditions.
Knowing what caused an airplane crash or airplane injury is important for an aviation lawsuit. An aviation accident lawyer will gather all of the information for the aviation lawsuit in order to better understand what can be done for clients to receive airline compensation.
Speak With an Airplane Injury Lawyer and Hold Negligent Airlines Responsible
As there are many different parties involved in the ownership, operation, and regulation of aircraft, the circumstances must be examined in detail to establish clear liability. There may be violations of FAA regulations or it may be a strict liability case under the Montreal Convention’s articles or for a defective product claim. Investigations are usually particularly complex because there could be different elements that caused the aviation accident. It is important not only to establish what happened in relation to airplane accidents but also to prevent similar occurrences in the future. The various causes of actionable cases in aviation lawsuits listed above may result in physical or emotional harm/trauma, severe bodily injury, and death. It may also result in damaged luggage, equipment, and aircraft parts.
How Can an Airplane Accident Lawyer Help?
The aviation industry is heavily regulated, and therefore, many pilots, shipping companies, consumers and corporations that use air transportation may have trouble navigating the many rules and laws that are passed by Congress and/or imposed by federal agencies. As a result, many businesses and individuals hire airline accident lawyers to handle legal issues that arise from aviation problems. These aviation lawsuits can encompass wrongful death, survivor claims, product liability, strict liability, class actions, jurisdictional issues, and international litigation. Aviation lawyers at The Eichholz Law Firm are dedicated to their clients and to providing the highest level of representation in and out of the aviation industry.
The Eichholz Law Firm works hand in hand with experts in the aviation industry to build a strong case on behalf of victims and their families. We work tirelessly to hold accountable the airlines, airports, plane maintenance companies and parts manufacturers responsible when an aviation accident occurs.
If you were injured in an airplane accident, you have a right to recover airline compensation for your injuries in an aviation lawsuit. The same is true if you have lost a family member in an aviation accident. Our airline injury lawyers understand the complicated aviation laws and what needs to be done to find justice. Speak with an experienced airline accident lawyer today at (855)-551-1019 or fill out an online form.
- FAA. “Regulations & Policies”, Federal Aviation Administration, https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/. Accessed May 15, 2019.
- HG.org. “Aviation Law”, HG.org Legal Resources, https://www.hg.org/aviation-law.html. Accessed May 15, 2019.
- Justia. “Aviation Law”, Justia, https://www.justia.com/aviation/. Accessed May 15, 2019.
- FAA. “Fact Sheet – General Aviation Safety”, Federal Aviation Administration, https://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/news_story.cfm?newsId=21274. Accessed May 15, 2019.
- Justia. “Nader v. Allegheny Airlines, Inc., 426 U.S. 290 (1976)”, Justia US Supreme Court, https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/426/290/. Accessed May 15, 2019.
- IATA. “The Montreal Convention 1999 (MC99)”, International Air Transportation Association, https://www.iata.org/policy/smarter-regulation/Pages/mc99.aspx. Accessed May 15, 2019.