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When Do You Need an Aviation Accident Attorney?

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Do You Need an Aviation Accident and Incident Attorney?

Do You Need an Aviation Accident and Incident Attorney?

Passenger airplane landing

Although aviation accidents are rare, the grief is no less for those who have lost a loved one in an airplane accident. In fact, many questions often go unanswered in aviation accidents, making matters worse for families and delaying their closure. However, victims of aviation accidents and their families have legal rights and may be able to receive compensation for losses such as medical expenses or burial costs.

Aviation accidents frequently fall under the jurisdiction of state, federal, and even international law. As such, claims can be complex and multi-layered. If you or a loved one were seriously injured or if your loved one died in an aviation accident, you need an attorney who will thoroughly investigate the matter for you. Contact us today at (205) 322-8880 for a free consultation.

The lawyers at Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann have the experience and resources to help you through the complex legal process. Founding partner Lee Pittman served as a U.S. Air Force pilot from 1968 to 1973, with a tour of duty in South Vietnam. We leverage our first-hand knowledge to provide effective services for our clients.

 Lee Pittman

Lee Pittman

Founding Partner

Lee Pittman served as a U.S. Air Force pilot from 1968 to 1973, with a tour of duty in South Vietnam. We leverage our first-hand knowledge of aviation to provide effective services for our clients.

What Are Damages in an Aviation Accident Lawsuit?

The injuries resulting from an airplane accident can be extremely severe and in many instances, fatal. Injuries can include things like head and neck injuries, burns, traumatic brain injury, or broken bones.

No amount of financial assistance can ever fully undo these tragic losses. However, when the injured victim and their family are faced with such difficult challenges due to another party’s negligence, it is only right they be compensated under the full extent of the law.

Damages in an aviation accident lawsuit can help the victim and their family recover losses for the following:

  • Hospital and medical bills
  • Lost wages while the patient recovers
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of the ability to generate future income
  • Additional rehabilitation and therapy

In the unfortunate event of a fatality, a wrongful death action may be necessary. Such claims can also cover wrongful death costs such as those associated with emotional distress, loss of companionship, burial arrangements, and other fees.


What Are Common Causes of Aviation Accidents?

Many different factors may contribute to an aviation accident, including but not limited to the following:

  • Pilot error or inexperience
  • Equipment failure
  • Errors by air traffic control
  • Poor or improper maintenance
  • Weather conditions
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) violations

Liability (legal responsibility) is rarely clear-cut in aviation cases, particularly because numerous factors are often involved. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, any of the following parties could be held accountable:

  • Owner/operator of the aircraft
  • Manufacturer of the plane
  • Maintenance workers 
  • Part suppliers
  • Federal government

An experienced aviation attorney can evaluate your case and determine your eligibility to file a legal claim. It is important to note that the law limits the amount of time individuals have to file a claim, so if you think you have a potential lawsuit, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible.

What Is the Difference Between Aviation Accidents, Incidents, and Serious Incidents?

If you or a loved one have been injured in any way in connection with aviation, it can help to understand how the law outlines the different categories of events. Knowing the different categories can help you determine whether you have a potential claim or not and whether you need to contact a lawyer for legal advice or representation.

The Convention on International Civil Aviation Annex 13 provides the following definitions:

Aviation Accidents

Annex 13 defines an aviation accident as an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft that:

  • Happens between when the first person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight, and the last person disembarks
  • Results in serious injuries or death; OR
  • Causes significant damage to the plane, or causes it to go missing.

Aviation crashes that leave several people badly injured would be categorized as accidents. They would then be subject to various procedures and investigations under federal aviation law.

Note that the definition of “seriously injured” includes things like a broken bone. Thus, an incident where a passenger breaks their arm while boarding an aircraft would also be considered an aviation accident for reporting purposes.

Serious Incidents

Lastly, a serious incident is a specific type of incident where an accident nearly occurred. These can include:

  • Failures during take-off or initial climb
  • Fire or smoke in the passenger compartment
  • Fuel quantity issues
  • Navigation and flight guidance failures

Serious incidents must be reported properly and promptly to the appropriate agency.

What Is the Difference Between Incident and Accident in Aviation?

In short, the answer is that accidents and serious aircraft incidents must be reported to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for investigation, while non-serious incidents do not. If a report is filed, the NTSB would then need to launch an investigation into the matter.

Therefore, the way an event is categorized is absolutely crucial in terms of legal remedies and options for the injured party. A common point of contention in an aviation lawsuit is whether the liable party reported the incident or not.

Keep in mind that these are complex matters that are best handled by an attorney. For instance, something as major as a landing gear malfunction could be categorized as an “incident” if no significant damage was done to the plane. The airline or pilot would not even need to file a report for that event. 

On the other hand, a slip and fall on an airplane might be filed as an “accident” depending on the passenger’s injuries and must be reported. Failure to report can greatly affect any following legal action on the matter.

How Can You Contact an Aviation Accident Attorney?

Aviation accident lawsuits are a highly complex area of injury laws. They can involve different legal concepts as well as the interaction between various regulatory boards. However, it is important that you obtain the proper compensation you are entitled to under state and federal laws. 

If you or a loved one have been injured due to an aviation issue, you need a law firm with the experience and track record to support your case. At Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann, we understand the ins and outs of aviation law and will do all we can to obtain the maximum award for you and your family. Get in touch with us at (205) 322-8880 for a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your claim.

Aviation Accidents and Incidents FAQs

What should I do if I’ve suffered an aviation injury?

If you have been injured in any way in connection with an airplane, airline, pilot, or other aviation aspects, you should take the following steps:

  • Seek medical attention immediately — your claim could be affected if you delay
  • Capture any evidence at the scene, including photos and video
  • Keep important documents and transcripts such as medical records
  • Contact an aviation accident lawyer for guidance 

While you may not be able to attend to all of these steps if you are injured, addressing these can greatly improve your chances of success in a lawsuit.

When should I file a claim for an aviation injury?

You should file a legal claim for an aviation injury as soon as possible after the event occurred. Injury cases are associated with filing deadlines, known as the statute of limitations. Once this time period passes, you may no longer be eligible to file a lawsuit. Thus, it is advisable that you contact an attorney as soon as you can after the injury. 

Can I file an aviation lawsuit on behalf of someone else?

Yes, this is possible. In many aviation accident and incident cases, the injured party may be too incapacitated to take action; in other situations, they may be deceased. In such cases, another person like a relative may need to file legal action on their behalf. 

There are specific procedures involved in filing a lawsuit on behalf of someone. It is in your best interest to contact an aviation attorney, who can assist you with the filing process in a timely manner.

What can an aviation attorney do for me?

Aviation accident lawsuits are complex and can affect many people at the same time. An aviation attorney can help ensure your case is successful by providing the following services: 

  • Reviewing and submitting court documents
  • Preparing evidence for trial
  • Analyzing investigation reports
  • Creating a strong and effective legal strategy 

Contact the Law Offices of Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann at (205) 322-8880 for a free consultation. Taking action is the first step in getting your life back on track after an accident.

Facts About Our Firm

  • Firm founding: 1986
  • Nationwide representation:

    We have represented individuals in all 50 states

  • Recovered over $820 million on behalf of our clients

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