What is an aviation accident?

The technical definition of an aviation accident includes any occurrence resulting from the operation of an aircraft that causes death, injury, or substantial damage to the aircraft. These accidents can happen in the air or on the ground during boarding, disembarking, takeoff, landing, or taxiing. Based on this broad definition, most people survive aviation accidents but some suffer serious injuries. Our aviation accident attorneys in Atlanta will get to know you and your injuries and make sure you get the treatment you need to recover while we fight for fair compensation. Reach out today to learn how we can help you!

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Examples of aviation accident injuries

Aviation accidents can occur in many ways and lead to many types of injuries. Accidents on the ground can produce injuries similar to car accidents, while in-flight and mid-air incidents often cause a completely different set of injuries. Some injuries accident victims may suffer in an aviation accident include:

  • Whiplash
  • Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
  • Sprained wrists, elbows, and/or shoulders from falls due to collisions
  • Lung and ear damage due to explosive decompression
  • Broken bones
  • Burns and smoke inhalation

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the number of serious injuries from aviation accidents has remained fairly steady since 2011. However, the number of accidents and total fatalities have fallen. No one knows if this trend will continue. While technological improvements make flying safer, drones have made the skies more crowded.

Causes of aviation accidents

Aviation accidents most commonly involve fixed-wing airplanes and rotary-wing helicopters. Both of these types of aircraft have complex electronic and mechanical systems that can easily malfunction. They also depend on trained, skilled, and sober pilots and ground crew. When any of these elements go awry, accidents can occur.

NTSB statistics show that the most common phase of flight for accidents in 2022 was landing, followed closely by mid-air flight and the initial climb after takeoff.

The most common causes for these incidents included the following:

  • Engine failure
  • Pilot error while flying
  • Collision while taxiing
  • Hard landings
  • Pilot intoxication

Georgia had one commercial aviation accident and 40 general aviation accidents in 2022. Four crashes involved helicopters, while the rest involved fixed-wing aircraft. These accidents included 33 non-fatal accidents and eight fatal accidents. Seven people were injured, and 10 died as a result of these incidents.

If you’ve suffered injuries or lost a loved one due to the negligence of another party in an aviation accident, turn to our skilled Atlanta aviation accident lawyers.

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Who can be held liable for airplane and helicopter accidents?

With one exception, the principles of negligence determine the parties liable for airplane and helicopter accidents. Negligence is when a person or business fails to exercise reasonable care under a given set of circumstances and causes an injury or fatality as a result. Parties that may be held liable for aviation accidents include:

  • Airlines and aircraft operators
  • Pilots
  • Maintenance facilities

Importantly, companies are vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees. For example, when a pilot employed by a crop-dusting company approaches the wrong runway and crashes into a private plane while landing, the crop-dusting company may be held responsible for any resulting injuries stemming from their employee’s actions. Manufacturers of aircraft and aircraft parts are strictly liable for defective products. This means your attorney does not need to prove that the manufacturer intended or even knew about the product defect—they only need to show that the product had a defect in its design, manufacture, or warnings and instructions.

What damages can I recover in an aviation accident?

Georgia law allows accident victims to recover special damages and general damages.

General damages

General damages are damages that all accident victims suffer. They are meant to cover harms like pain, mental anguish, inconvenience, disability, dismemberment, and disfigurement. You do not need to prove these damages, although evidence showing how your injuries have affected your life can strengthen your case. That’s where a knowledgeable aviation accident attorney is a vital partner.

Special damages

Special damages are unique to your case. They are designed to cover things like medical costs, income loss, and diminished earning capacity. You must prove the value of the losses you have incurred using evidence like bank statements and receipts.

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Consult an aviation accident attorney at Pendergrass Law

Commercial aircraft owners and operators carry liability insurance to help protect aviation accident victims. However, like most states, Georgia does not require private aircraft owners to carry liability insurance to protect passengers, ground victims, or people in other aircraft. Following an aviation accident, an attorney from The Pendergrass Law Firm can help you identify your options for pursuing injury compensation. If the negligent operator has an active insurance policy, your attorney can file an accident claim with the insurer. If the negligent party does not have insurance, you may need to file a lawsuit against them. Pendergrass Law was founded on the principle “Do Right, Win Big.” We believe treating clients fairly and compassionately is the first step to winning cases. Contact us for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you after an aviation accident.

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