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MICHAEL REHM - (800) 978-0754


Commercial aircraft crashes make headlines. When a passenger jet crashes, hundreds of passengers may die. Most aviation accidents, however, involve small aircraft. Passengers who charter a small plane to go hunting or fishing take a greater risk than passengers who fly halfway around the world. Regardless of the size of the plane, however, a crash is almost never the passenger's fault. Surviving passengers and families of deceased passengers are entitled to seek compensation for their losses.

In recent times, the most common injuries on commercial flights are caused by unruly passengers. Whether injury victims are entitled to compensation for injuries caused by the airline's failure to control the behavior of its passengers depends upon the circumstances. Although premises liability fundamentals more than likely apply.

Aviation Accident Statistics

Commercial flights decreased significantly during the pandemic. It isn't surprising that the number of aviation accidents decreased in 2020. On a per-flight basis, however, the percentage of accidents actually increased.

The accident rate in 2020 was 1.71 accidents per million flights. That statistic is substantially higher than the average of 1.38 accident per million flights over the last five years.

As flight schedules were reduced, airlines spent less money on aircraft maintenance and pilot training. Nor did airlines always listen to their pilots. The Boeing 737 Max had a software issue that likely contributed to two crashes. Pilots had complained to airlines that they received insufficient training regarding the design features of the new plane. Pilots also complained about the plane's unpredictable behavior when autopilot was engaged. Airlines paid little heed to their pilots, resulting in two tragic crashes overseas before the planes were grounded.

While commercial jets rarely crash, a crash often produces a large number of fatalities. Crashes are much more likely to occur in single engine aircraft. About 79% of crashes and 72% of fatalities involve single-engine planes. Cessna and Piper airplanes are involved in most crashes, in part because they are the most popular general aviation aircraft.

Causes of Passenger Injuries

Most injuries to airline passengers are not caused by crashes. A sudden loss of altitude may cause standing passengers to fall and seated passengers to be tossed from their seats. Flight attendants may lose control of a drink cart that smashes into a passenger's leg or shoulder.

Turbulence may cause baggage to fly out of overhead bins and strike passengers. Thousands of passengers are injured each year by luggage that falls from overhead compartments.

A growing number of injuries are caused by aggressive passengers. Some of that aggression has related to passengers who are upset by rules that airlines or the Federal Aviation Administration instituted to mandate the wearing of masks during flights. Disputes have led to pushing, shoving, and fighting with flight attendants and other passengers. Some of those fights have caused injuries.

Liability for Aviation Injuries

A crash can be caused by pilot error, mechanical failures, defective aircraft design, acts of nature, or a combination of factors. The responsible party might be a pilot, the airline that failed to detect or repair defects, the manufacture that designed the plane, or all three. The party or parties at fault are responsible for injuries or deaths caused by the crash, although it may take some time for investigators to assign responsibility for the crash.

It is often difficult to assign fault when injuries occur on board an aircraft in flight. There may be no liability when a passenger falls because of unforeseeable turbulence. On the other hand, if a passenger falls because a control failed, and caused the plane to dive, the aircraft manufacturer or the airline that failed to maintain the control could be at fault. The pilot might also be at fault if sudden movement of the plane was caused by pilot error.

Luggage should not fall from overhead bins that are properly secured. Whether a flight attendant should have noticed that an overhead bin was left ajar during the flight depends on the facts. If the flight attendant was negligent in failing to secure the bin, the airline might be responsible for injuries caused by falling luggage.

Airlines generally have no duty to control unruly passengers, but they might become liable if they contribute to the problem. If flight attendants serve alcohol to an intoxicated passenger, for example, the airline might be responsible if the passenger starts a fight. An airline might also be liable if a flight attendant accidently strikes a peaceful passenger while trying to control an unruly one.

Aviation Accident Lawyer

Questions of liability for aviation accidents depend on the facts. They usually require an intense investigation to determine fault. Aviation Accident Lawyer Michael Rehm can advise aviation accident injury victims of their legal rights. Call (800) 978-0754 to learn more.

MICHAEL REHM - (800) 978-0754

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