Aviation Accidents FAQ

Q: Who is liable to the injured parties during an aviation accident?

A: The probable liable parties will differ depending on the cause of the accident. The owner and the operator of the aircraft may be held responsible if the cause is tracked to human error. The manufacturers or maintenance suppliers may be held liable if the circumstances of the accident show that there is engineering or mechanical failure.

Q: Can the owner operator be held criminally responsible for the aviation accident?

A: The federal government and every state can impose criminal measures in cases that associated with aviation accidents. Even though the categories and details may differ among them and most of the states force criminal penalties or measures on aviators for irresponsible conduct that result to injury, death, or property damage. The difficulty in prosecuting these kinds of cases depends on differentiating between the criminal negligence and ordinary accident cases.

Q: What is the “statute of repose” in the aviation accident case?

A: In aviation litigation, the “statute of repose” restricts the period of time the lawsuit can be filed in terms of how long the airplane or part has been in service. The applicable duration of time will differ and will depend on the area where the lawsuit is file, whether it is in the state, federal, or in an international court.

Q: What is the FAA?

A: The Federal Aviation Administration or FAA refers to the component of the US government which is mainly responsible for the safety of civil aviation. It is different from, and independent of, the National Transportation Safety Board or NTSB.

Q: What is the NTSB?

A: The National Transportation Safety Board or NTSB is an independent federal agency which is responsible for investigating each civil aviation accident in USA. Its jurisdiction includes the trains and other vehicle accidents. The NTSB provides safety recommendations to prevent future accidents, sustains the database of the government on civil aviation accidents, and makes special studies of transportation safety concerns of the national importance.

Q: What is GARA?

A: The General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994 or GARA is the “statute of repose.” GARA was established to protect the manufacturers of smaller and private aircraft of less than 20 seats from the liability for the accidents which involve older airplanes and/or its parts. GARA hinders lawsuits against the manufacturer of the aircraft or parts when the item has been in service for 18 years. GARA cannot be applied when the aircraft was engaged in bringing the passengers or air medical services operations when the accident happened.

Q: What are the common causes of aircraft accidents?

A: Common causes of aircraft accidents are as follows:

  • Pilot errors
  • Violation of FAA policies or regulations
  • Faulty equipment
  • Flight service station employee or workers’ negligence
  • Third party’s carrier selection negligence
  • Federal air traffic controllers’ negligence
  • Structural or design problems with the aircraft
  • Negligence in fueling the aircraft
  • Repair or maintenance of the aircraft or component negligence

Q: Do similar laws applicable to commercial aircraft and private aircraft?

A: No. The General Aviation Law applied to all aircraft aside from those that are operated by airlines or the military. Commercial airlines and military carriers shall e subjected to various legal standards.

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