Interested in working with me? Call me at 888-929-5292 or fill out this quick form and I will contact you within 24 hours!
Hiring a high quality, experienced attorney after an accident may be the difference between receiving some closure after a horrific experience and enduring additional life altering events. This is especially true in the case of a personal injury or death from an airplane or helicopter accident. Aviation law is a specialized field that requires expertise to truly understand all the factors causing the accident and create a strong case. When deciding on an attorney, it is important to take the time to be confident in your choice.
One thing you can expect an aviation lawyer to do is determine the strengths and weaknesses of your case, which won’t all be immediately apparent. They will have to obtain and organize all relevant information such as black box data, eyewitness testimony, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) personnel testimony, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) personnel testimony, the findings of experts, aircraft wreckage, radar reports, weather reports, air traffic control reports and so on. Collecting all critical evidence is not an easy task. Flights that are not conducted on airlines (sometimes called commercial air carriers), such as private jets and helicopters, may be more complex because there is often less information available. An experienced aviation accident lawyer will use more ingenuity to complete a thorough gathering of the information needed, and will also do their best to preserve pieces of evidence that may otherwise be lost or mishandled in the investigation.
Time is critical in an aviation accident. Statutes of limitation often limit the period in which you can file a lawsuit after the accident. Another time limitation may originate from Statutes of Repose, which relate to when the aircraft involved in the accident was built or when parts were replaced on the aircraft. An experienced aviation attorney will create a theory of liability and file a Complaint on your behalf in a timely manner. Your attorney will determine the best venue to file your case, as well. Different states have vastly different rules on compensation and when a plane crashes in one state, the deceased party is from another state, and the plane is maintained in a third state, your lawyer has to sort through the facts to determine which state is most conducive to your case and legally viable as a venue.
If more than one person or entity may be responsible for the accident, a good aviation lawyer will ensure everyone responsible is included in the lawsuit. For example, the airline, pilot, aircrew, aircraft maintenance personnel or manufacturers may all be partially responsible for an airplane accident. If the United States government is involved in an aviation accident, an aviation attorney will first have to file a claim (Federal Tort Claims Act) against the government workers involved.
An experienced aviation accident attorney will be aware of problems like built-in biases that may exist between the NTSB and manufacturers. The NTSB usually commences investigations of aircraft accidents, especially when there were fatalities, but may delegate the investigation to the FAA. The aircraft manufacturers often help the NTSB conduct its investigation and test airplane components suspected of directly or indirectly causing the accident. Your attorney will also be aware of the General Aviation Revitalization Act ("GARA") and how that will affect any potential lawsuit against manufacturers.
One of the first things an experienced aviation crash lawyer will do is research the defendant’s—or defendants’—insurance coverage to see if it is able to provide you with sufficient compensation. It is unlikely that there would be no or insufficient insurance money available in a case involving an airplane accident, but it is a possibility if, for example, a small aircraft’s pilot is being sued. If any settlements are offered, your attorney will help you decide whether or not to accept the settlement.
Although air transportation is still the safest form of transportation, when an aviation accident occurs it is still a tragedy. Understanding why the accident occurred may provide some much needed comfort and help prevent the same safety problems from causing another accident. An attorney with personal understanding of the complexities of aviation will be better equipped to get you the answers and compensation you deserve.
In addition to finding an attorney with personal expertise of aircraft and aviation, a sign of a competent attorney is if they are in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. Also check to see what rating the aviation attorney has been given by his or her peers in the Martindale-Hubbell’s prestigious AV peer rating. AV is the highest rating available.