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Bringing a successful lawsuit after a plane crash

With so many devastating plane crashes in the news nowadays, many people are afraid to travel by plane. While aviation accidents are rare, when they do occur, they can leave families devastated.

Plane crashes can be caused by many things, including pilot error, faulty design or equipment and negligent actions by flight and ground crew. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration have come up with a set of regulations that set the safety standards for pilots, airplane manufacturers, and flight operations. When there is an accident involving a civil aircraft, the NTSB will investigate it thoroughly and make recommendations to better protect future fliers.

However, for those who have already lost a loved one in a plane crash, future safety recommendations do little to help the healing process. Fortunately, these families may be able to file lawsuits against those responsible for the tragedy. Lawsuits arising from plane crashes can be complicated, with multiple theories of liability and numerous potential defendants to bring suit against.

Typically, the plaintiff must show that the defendant or defendants were negligent in that they failed to act reasonably to protect the plaintiff from foreseeable harm. Plane operators and owners are held to high standards and will be held liable for damages if a court finds they acted negligently and their negligence caused harm to others. Commercial airlines are considered to be common carriers and are held to stricter standards than private carriers. In order to have a successful lawsuit, it is important to research the applicable NTSB and FAA regulations and determine if any rules were violated. If successful, surviving family members may recover damages for loss of support and loss of companionship.

Source: FindLaw, “Aviation Accidents - Overview,” accessed on May 4, 2015

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