General aviation refers to flights other than those operated by airlines or the military. It generally calls to mind both owned and leased executive jets, pilot owned and operated propeller aircraft, gliders and other experimental aircraft. Air Ambulances are also included under the umbrella of general aviation. Recently there have been an epidemic of fatal crashes involving air ambulances and the industry is coming under increased scrutiny. Frequently, flights operated in general aviation originate from and terminate in small airports and do not require the filing of a flight plan.
Often times, these small airplanes are operated by flight schools with student pilots and instructors or air taxi or charter services. In remote portions of the United States such as Alaska and Hawaii, these air taxis serve entire regions and communities where access by automobile is restricted or difficult.
General aviation is controlled and regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, which, together with the National Transportation Safety Board, also tracks the safety record of general aviation throughout the United States.
Unfortunately, the statistics on general aviation accidents and crashes are alarming. There is a fatal general aviation crash or airplane accident in the United States nearly every day. In 2016, 413 people died in 219 general aviation accidents, and inflight loss of control – mainly stalls – account for the largest number of fatal general aviation accidents. An aging aircraft and pilot population account for many of these airplane crashes and accidents and the federal government is instituting different programs to try and make general aviation safer.
How We Handle Your Aviation Accident Claim
Litigation arising from general aviation accidents require extensive investigation and knowledge of a variety of laws and theories ranging from statutes of repose that protect the manufacturers of older aircraft from product liability claims, a careful study of weather and environmental factors, the experience, qualifications, judgments and actions of the pilot in charge, directions of air traffic controllers, aircraft maintenance and the functionality of the aircraft’s systems and instruments. As a result, an experience aviation attorney, such as the lawyers at Bohrer and Lukeman, are your best chance for a successful claim.
Given our firm’s experience in representing individuals injured and killed during the course of general aviation accidents, we understand that from the moment we are retained, we must swiftly gather all relevant evidence and data and commence an investigation into the cause of the accident. We closely monitor all government investigations and retain and work with our own team of experts to develop often overlooked theories of recovery. Often, governmental bodies are quick to attribute the loss of small, general aviation aircraft to pilot error, but our lawyers and aviation experts will not hesitate to conduct our own investigation into the facts and circumstances of an aviation accident if we believe that there are other theories to explain why the aircraft crashed.
Domestic & International Accidents
After an injury during the course of a flight occurs, the injured passenger should immediately seek the advice of an experienced aviation attorney to determine not only if he or she has a case, but what laws will apply to the action. Among the first question the attorney will ask is whether the passenger was injured aboard a domestic or international flight.
Accidents on Domestic Flights
A domestic flight is one which begins and ends within the same country. The passenger will usually not have to clear immigration and customs and does need a passport to travel. In the event of an injury aboard a domestic flight, the laws of the United States(or country where it occurred) will govern the outcome of the case. Those laws will determine whether the passenger can bring certain claims, or whether those claims or barred by operation of law. There may be differences in statutes of limitations, which limit the time that one has to bring a claim and certain other written notice requirements that make it mandatory for a passenger to seek counsel immediately.
There are also laws known as statutes of repose that protect aircraft manufacturers from claims brought as against older aircraft unless those aircraft are used in commercial aviation, and laws that “pre-empt” or restrict state law claims where the FAA or other federal authority has handed down certain rules or guidelines.
Although these rules are by no means absolute, the majority of accidents aboard general aviation aircraft occur during domestic flights whereas international flights are typically run by commercial aviation carriers.
International flights are typically operated by commercial aviation carriers and are “longer haul” flights. Injuries that occur during the course of an international flight are governed exclusively by the Montreal Convention.
Read more about the Montreal Convention here.
Aviation Accident Attorney for Fatal Injuries
Tragically, many general aviation accidents result in the wrongful death of the aircraft’s pilots and/or passengers. Our firm has represented individuals injured and killed during the course of general aviation accidents. From the moment we are retained, we gather all relevant evidence and data and commence an investigation into the cause of the accident. We closely monitor all government investigations and retain and work with our own team of experts to develop often overlooked theories of recovery.
Call us today if you or a loved one has been the victim of a general aviation accident or fill out our easy-to-use contact form