Powered flight is perhaps one of man’s greatest achievements. Since that first aircraft flew at Kitty Hawk, man has taken to the skies as if born to it. Today, travel by air is one of the safest ways to go about. Yet as any aviation accident attorney will tell you, it is not a perfect picture.
National Geographic once said that more people die due to donkeys worldwide than aircraft crashes. The difference is you will never hear about the annual toll of humans killed by donkeys. When an aircraft crashes, no matter how small, it gets page one.
Anatomy of a Crash
The modern aircraft is an incredibly complex machine. Even the smallest single-engine, four-person, propeller-driven trainer is a package of gears, gauges, pistons, hydraulic lines and electric cables. Although redundancies exist, sometimes the failure of one system can quickly lead to the failure of the whole.
Mechanical failure is one of the main causes of an air crash. This means the plane went down because part or parts of it compromised its ability to fly, land or take off safely. Everything from a worn out part finally failing to an instrument that fed the pilot wrong information could qualify as mechanical failure.
The other main reason is pilot error. This is simply the pilot making a mistake that led to the crash. Unfortunately, this mistake is often fatal for the pilot, his or her crew and the plane’s passengers. Any airplane accident attorney will tell you this is where so many complexities crop up.
The Blame Game
The aftermath of every crash, especially for the more tragic ones, is the inevitable investigation. A team of specialists comb over the wreckage, maintenance records and crew files looking to pin down the cause of the crash. Airplane accident attorneys start looking at who is responsible.
Depending on how bad the crash is, investigations could take a few days at best, and years at worst. Recovering the so-called “black boxes” that record in-flight data are usually a big boon, so are eyewitness accounts. Survivors are invaluable because they were actually there prior to the crash.
Aviation accident attorneys say this is where things become a bit muddy. The airline and/or the aircraft manufacturer will try to pin blame on anything and anyone other than them. Dead passengers are bad business for an airline, while a tragic air crash puts a manufacturer’s entire output into question.
Meanwhile, the family of the pilots and crew will also try to remove or reduce blame put upon them. Especially if the pilot is a veteran, their families would do everything to keep the names of their loved ones from getting tainted.
Survivors and the kin of victims face a complex tangle of laws and procedures finding the underlying cause of what led to the crash. When the cause has been determined, it is still a question of whether you would be satisfied with it or not, and what to do if it is the latter. Then there is the litigation for just compensation.
This is where an experienced airplane accident attorney can be of much help. They know the laws involving such incidents and they have access to specialists who can evaluate the evidence and even give expert testimony.
Even then, it could be a long, hard road to justice and just compensation. Yet if you stay the course and heed the advice of your aviation accident attorney, you might see a happy landing for the case of those denied that by fate or negligence.