Stephen Bilkis
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New York Plane Accidents

Despite the many types of aircraft flying above New York, airplane crashes are unusual. Crashes of large aircraft such as commercial jetliners are extremely rare. The vast majority of airplane crashes are small, private airplanes, medical aircraft, and helicopters. Whether the crash involves a commercial airliner, a business plane, a private jet, a helicopter, a blimp, or some other type of aircraft, when there is an accident, the victims often suffer catastrophic injuries such as amputations, brain injuries, and paralysis. Such injuries require extensive, expensive treatment. In many cases the injuries are permanent leaving the victim with disabilities that make working impossible. As a result, the victim and the victim’s family face serious financial problems. Sadly, more often than not airplane crashes are fatal. If you or a member of your family was seriously injured in an airplane accident, it is important that you consult with an experienced New York airplane crash lawyer who will explain to your legal options for holding the negligent person accountable for your injuries and other losses.

Legal liability for an airplane crash

Legal liability for an airplane crash depends on fault. Defendants in claims related to airplane crashes may include individuals, airlines, aircraft manufacturers, part manufactures, airport staff, owners and operators of airports, and others. Just like any other type of accidents, airplanes crash for a variety of reasons.

  • Bad weather. The weather is one of the top contributing factors to plane crashes, especial for smaller aircraft. Most large airplanes are designed to withstand adverse weather conditions, while smaller planes are susceptible to changes in weather conditions. In fact, it is critical for pilots to understand weather reports and make good decisions as to whether or not to fly. Planes are also susceptible to lightning. Lightning strikes can cause complete electrical failure to a plane.
  • Mechanical failure. There have been airplane crashes that resulted from mechanical failure. For example, in one accident a disintegrating fan blade caused the left-hand engine of large jetliner to lose power. Making matters worse, the pilots had a difficult time figuring out which engine lost power. As a result, the pilots turned off the one engine that had power, leaving the plane with no power. The plane crashed, killing many and injuring many others. Other accidents have been caused by metal fatigue, structural failure due to lack of lubrication, and engine failure. Similarly, many plane crashes are caused by poor maintenance.
  • Air traffic controller error. Air traffic control (ATC) is a service that is responsible for controlling the flow of air traffic in order to prevent collision. It employs traffic separation rules, which ensure each aircraft maintains a minimum amount of empty space around it at all times. When ATC control workers and systems fail, the result can be mid air collisions, ground collisions, and other types of disasters.
  • Pilot error. Pilot error refers to the pilot making a mistake that results in a crash. Often times pilot error is due to the inexperience of the pilot coupled with unusual conditions such as bad weather. Pilots are required to be able to understand conditions and make judgment calls as to how to navigate the plane when weather conditions are poor. Similarly, when in-flight mechanical problems occur, pilots must understand what to do.
  • Fuel problems. It may seem like fuel problems should be easy to avoid. Unfortunately, there are a variety of reasons that may lead to a miscalculation of the amount of fuel in a plane or other fueling problems that could ultimately lead to a deadly plane crash. In some cases the plane literally runs out of fuel, while in other cases the problem can be described as fuel starvation, meaning that there is sufficient fuel, but for some reason it is not flowing as it should.
  • Defective design. Whether they are small planes or large jetliners, airplanes are incredibly complex. Even a seemingly minor miscalculation in the design of an airplane can have devastating results. Examples of design defects that have lead to plane crashes include defects in the design of vertical stabilizers, slat handles, fuel lines, landing gear, metals used, autopilot mechanisms, engines, fuel gauges, and engine lights. If an airplane crash is caused by a design defect, the company that designed the plane or designed the part may be liable. One plane crash was caused when a rear cargo door of a jetliner blew open in-flight. Investigation of the incident found that the cargo door latching system failed to close. In addition, there was not a mechanism that alerted the crew that the door was not safely closed. A separate locking system was supposed to be in place to ensure this could not happen, but the design proved to be inadequate.
  • Sabotage. In the recent years there has been a heightened concern about sabotage causing airplane crashes. As a result, security precautions in airports in New York and across the country have been tightened. There are restrictions on who can access gate areas, what can be carried on board, and the type of acceptable identification that can be used to board a plane. Even though sabotage accounts for a relative small amount of airplane crashes, crashes that have resulted from sabotage tend to be deadly.

Other causes of airplane crashes include instrument failure, tire failure, defective landing gear, inadequate training, inclement weather, improper inspections, inadequate security, and medical issues.

As an experienced New York airplane crash lawyer will explain, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is charged with investigating airplane crashes. Determining the cause of an airplane crash is difficult and typically takes months of investigation and analysis.

While aviation accidents involving plane crashes receive the most media coverage, there other aviation-related accidents that occur much more frequently and that leave victims with serious injuries. These accidents occur on airplanes, on the tarmac, on jet ways, and in airports. Accidents frequently occur on the tarmac and the gate. Sometimes they involve one of them many vehicles that service airplanes or individuals on the ground that work at airports or that provide services to the airlines. Such accidents include:

  • Turbulence- related accidents. While turbulence typically does not cause an airplane to crash, it still may cause accidents and injuries on the plane.
  • Falls. Falls can occur anywhere, including in the jet ways, on stairs leading to the airplane, and on airplane.
  • Baggage falling from overhead compartments. According to estimates, thousands of airline passengers and crew members in New York and around the world are injured every year when items fall from overhead storage bins. In other words, each day someone is injured by luggage or other items falling from an overhead bin.
  • Accidents related to rolling food carts. There is not a lot of room to roll food and beverage carts down the narrow aisle of an airplane. It is common for them to hit the shoulders, elbows, arm and other body parts of seated passengers.
Types of damages

In order to receive compensation for the injuries you suffered in an aviation accident, you need to determine who was at fault. The result of the investigation may determine that the responsible party is the airline, the manufacturer of the airplane, the manufacture of faulty parts, the air traffic controllers, the pilot, other airline staff, airport staff, third-party contractors, or another passenger.

In addition, as an experienced New York airplane crash lawyer will explain, liability in an airplane accident is tricky. Depending where the accident occurred, who was at fault, the cause of the accident, and who was injured, there are a variety of state, federal, and international laws that may be implicated. For example, an airline may be liable if a member of the flight crew left an object in the middle of an aisle, which causes a passenger to trip and fall, or if a member of the flight crew failed to properly close an overhead bin, causing a heavy bag to fall on a passenger. The airline might be liable if a member of the crew failed to properly stow beverage bottles or cans in the airplane pantry, and as a result they were tossed about the plane, hitting a passenger. Furthermore, the airline might face liability if it failed to properly train flight personnel in how to ensure the safety of passengers, and as a result passengers are injured.

Through a personal injury or wrongful death claim there are a variety of types of compensation to which you may be entitled based on the losses you suffered. Examples include:

  • Medical expenses. In your claim against the party at fault, you should demand compensation for your medical expenses related the injuries suffered in the airplane accident. This may include fees related to emergency department care, hospital, specialists, surgery, medication, outpatient care, in-home care, medical equipment, assistive devices, physical therapy, occupational therapy, recreational therapy, rehabilitation, and psychological counseling. As an experienced airplane crash attorney in New York will explain, you should demand compensation not only for past medical expenses, but also for future medical expenses.
  • Lost wages. If your injuries are serious, you will likely be unable to return to work right away. You have the right to demand payment for your missed weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly paychecks. If you used paid vacation and sick days while your were recovering, you have the right to demand reimbursement for the value of those days. In addition, if you lost benefits, bonuses, or promotions that you were on track to receive, you can seek compensation for their value. If you are permanently injured you may not be able to go back to the same job, or you may not be able to work at all. This would mean that you will no longer to continue on the same career track, and you may not be able to earn the same amount of money that you otherwise would have been able to earn. To compensate you for this loss, you can demand money for loss of future earning capacity.
  • Pain and suffering. Another type of loss victims of airplane crashes may suffer is referred to as pain and suffering. Pain and suffering refers to both physical pain and emotional trauma suffered by accident victims as evidenced by physical injuries, depression, irritability, inability to sleep, fear, stress, and sadness. Pain and suffering damages tend to be higher when injuries are severe as evidenced by permanent cognitive deficiencies, scarring, a limp, persistent back pain, paralysis, or other permanent, noticeable injuries.
  • Wrongful death. Sadly, plane crashes often result in fatalities. If a family member dies from injuries suffered in an aviation accident, the legal representative of that person can sue to recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.

It is important to understand that there are different and very specific procedural requirements depending on who the defendant in your personal injury claim is. For example, the rules are very different for suing the federal or local government as opposed to suing a private company or individual. This is why it is critical that you are represented by someone with experience and knowledge of the special laws and procedural requirements associated with airplane accidents.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you were seriously injured because you were in an aviation accident, the person or company responsible for your injuries should be held accountable. To ensure that your legal rights are protected and that your case is properly handled, it is vital that you are represented by an experienced airplane crash attorney serving New York. Contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates to discuss the details of your case. Our staff is experienced in handling claims that result from catastrophic accidents such as accidents involving commercial planes, private jets and helicopters. Contact us at 800.NY.NY.LAW (800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island, Nassau County, Bronx, Staten Island, Suffolk County, Manhattan, and Westchester County.

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