How Does International Law Affect Airplane Crash Liability?

Tragically, airplane crashes often result in catastrophic losses. Hundreds of people may die in a single incident. Those lucky enough to survive often suffer from debilitating injuries. When an airplane crash occurs, those affected may consider how to seek compensation for the losses that they have suffered. Airplane crash investigation and liability can often be complex.

National Transportation Safety Board

In the United States, the National Transportation Safety Board often helps to complete accident investigations of civil aviation accidents. This same agency is also responsible for investigating other types of transportation-related accidents, including train accidents, motor vehicle accidents and commercial trucking accidents.

The National Transportation Safety Board may review objective evidence left behind in accidents, such as the black box, GPS data or other data stored in the vehicle that can tell whether a mechanical problem may have occurred, if brakes were applied, when brakes were applied and the speed that the vehicle was traveling at the time of the accident.

The board is not a subsidiary of other federal agencies such as the Department of Transportation so its accident investigations are completely independent in nature. Its goal is to improve the safety of the transportation industry. These investigative findings are sometimes used to assess the liability of defendants after an accident. An investigation initiated by the board begins with a team that goes to the site of the accident. The team includes technical experts who help determine the cause of the accident. The board creates a report after the investigation in which it reveals its findings.

Compensation for Personal Injuries

Individuals who are injured in accidents are often able to recover compensation. In the case of airplane accidents, potential defendants who may be responsible for such compensation may include the airline or airport. The manufacturer of the airplane or airplane parts may be named as a defendant if mechanical failure or a product defect contributed to the accident.

Airplane accidents are sometimes the result of several different factors, which may cause claims to be filed against multiple defendants, some of whom may be in a different country than others when cases involving international travel are involved. Many airplane accident cases are caused by human error or mechanical problems.

International Considerations

Many Americans fly international flights. These airlines may be owned by an entity outside the United States. In some situations, international treaties may govern the rules related to compensation paid to individuals who are injured on international flights. Additionally, individuals may not be able to sue in the United States because an American court may not have jurisdiction of the case. As a condition of flying, the passenger may have even agreed to pursue any claims in the country where the airline is incorporated or submit to arbitration. Provisions of this nature may be included in the purchase receipt.

Effect of International Issues

While the United States may award multimillion dollar settlements or awards to injured passengers and their families, other countries may have damage caps that are much lower. Additionally, other countries may have judicial systems in place that make it difficult for foreign plaintiffs to win the case. Even if the plaintiff wins, it may be even more difficult for a foreign plaintiff to collect from a defendant in another country. Enforcement actions may also be difficult if the court hearing the case is not in the same country as the defendant.

Legal Assistance

Individuals who are injured in an airplane accident may suffer from injuries that impact the rest of their lives. Families may bring a lawsuit on behalf of a loved one with a wrongful death claim when the loved one lost his or her life due to the negligent actions of another. Airlines and airports are often well-equipped to handle such claims as they often have experienced teams of lawyers ready and willing to defend their clients or try to assign blame to other potential defendants in order to escape sizable recovery options by injured passengers and their family.

Injured passengers and their families may wish to consult with a personal injury lawyer who is experienced in airplane crashes or mass transit accidents. A personal injury lawyer can take steps to pursue full and fair recovery for the victims of personal injury accidents.

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