Dedicated Maryland Injury Lawyers Protecting Victims of Plane Crashes
Fighting for compensation for those injured in plane and common carrier accidents
Although 2019 was one of the safest years ever for aviation accidents in terms of fatalities, the overall number of aviation crashes has increased over the past five years. Because of the inherent size and way an airplane or helicopter operate, aviation crashes tend to be catastrophic or deadly. Aviation accidents require lengthy and detailed investigations, as well as experienced attorneys to help victims secure compensation for their injuries.
At Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A., we represent victims and survivors of Maryland aviation crashes. Since 1985, we have provided smart legal representation for common carrier injury victims across the state. Our award-winning attorneys have decades of experience and are ready to put that knowledge to work for you. Contact us today for aggressive and compassionate counsel when you or a loved one are injured due to another’s negligence. We fight for you.
Plane crash injury statistics
The Aviation Safety Network (ASN) recorded 20 fatal airline accidents in 2019, resulting in 283 occupant fatalities. According to ASN, “Thirteen accidents involved passenger flights, six were cargo flights. One out of 20 accident airplanes were operated by airlines on the E.U. “blacklist”, down by two compared to 2018.” More than half of these accidents occurred in North America.
Boeing’s Statistical Summary of Commercial Jet Airplane Accidents reports that 57 percent of plane crashes happen during the “cruising” phase of the flight. It is true that some people do survive plane crashes, but the force of a large falling object and the impact of hitting the ground makes that likelihood quite low.
What causes plane crashes?
Plane crashes are rare, but when they do happen, whether here in Maryland or elsewhere across the country, the aftermath can be disastrous. The question everyone wants answered after an aviation accident is “why.” The Pilot Institute discusses the five main causes for airplane crashes.
According to the Pilot Institute, human error accounts for approximately 50 percent of plane crashes. Pilots are required to rest a certain amount of hours to avoid fatigue on the job. They also cannot perform their duties in a reckless or negligent manner, like consuming alcohol or drugs on the job. The Institute points out it is crucial that airline pilots are not overworked in any way that would cause their performance to degrade.
Although modern planes are safer than the past, due to more stringent federal laws, they are still complex machines with hundreds of separate yet interconnected parts. Any defect in one part can cause an overall malfunction in the entire aircraft. These can include issues like product defects, improper repairs, or defective part replacements. The Institute reports mechanical failure makes up to 20 percent of aviation accidents.
Air traffic and ground control error
A pilot is only as good as their air traffic and ground control team. Air traffic controllers must handle a number of different planes at the same time, while also taking into account weather, fuel and traffic considerations. One error on the air traffic side can potentially cause a multi-aircraft accident. On the ground, personnel also include dispatchers, maintenance or loaders, all of whom can make human errors due to fatigue or negligence. The Institute attributes about 10 percent of airplane crashes to air traffic and ground error.
Commercial airplanes are designed to operate and fly in almost any weather condition. However, this does not mean that flying in inclement weather is not hazardous. The Pilot Institute estimates 10 percent of plane crashes and accidents can be attributed to weather. Weather situations like fog, ice, snow or high winds can make it difficult for a pilot to maintain control of a plane and can lead to deadly crashes or collisions during takeoff, cruising and landing. Turbulence during thunderstorms can also cause serious injury to passengers on airplanes.
The Institute attributes the last 10 percent of aviation crashes to a number of other factors, which include both “sabotage and poor runway maintenance.” They also mention the problem with birds, which caused the well-known 2009 New York plane crash when Captain “Sully” Sullenberger landed a plane in the Hudson River after a bird flew into the engine. Captain Sully saved the lives of 155 passengers and crew.
Who is liable for airplane or helicopter crash injuries in Maryland?
After an aviation crash, there may be any number of responsible parties, depending on the details of your case. Potential liable parties include:
- Pilot. The pilot can be held personally liable for a crash if their negligent actions caused the accident. Their employer may also hold some responsibility.
- Owner of the aircraft. The owner of an airplane or helicopter that crashes may be held liable under the theory of vicarious liability, even if they were not operating the aircraft at the time of the accident.
- Manufacturer of the aircraft or its parts. If a crash was the result of defective parts or equipment, the manufacturer of the plane or helicopter can be held liable under the theory of product liability.
- Federal government. When air traffic control negligence leads to an airplane crash or collision, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) may be held accountable. The FAA oversees air traffic control and therefore may hold liability.
The Maryland attorneys at Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. represent victims of both common carrier and private aviation crashes.
Private and charted aviation crashes
LiveScience points out the dangers of private aviation crashes, whether small planes, chartered jets, or tourist and medical helicopters. These types of accidents shine a light on the dangers of private aviation. The LiveScience article points out that, although “accidents and fatalities are down in corporate and business jet flights, the accident rate in personal flights has increased by 20 percent in the past decade, and the fatality rate for personal flights is up 25 percent.”
One of the biggest causes of private aviation crashes is loss of control of the aircraft. This is a broad category, of course, and encompasses any scenario when the pilot loses control of their plane or helicopter and cannot regain it, leading to a crash or unrecoverable spin. The tragic death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter in a 2020 California helicopter crash is a sad reminder of what this looks like.
Why are aviation crash cases different than other personal injury cases?
Airplane and helicopter crash claims are much more difficult and complex to handle than a typical personal injury claim. In commercial (or common carrier) crashes, authorities typically have access to a “black box,” which holds information and clues to the cause of the crash. However, with private crashes and accidents, these types of aircraft do not have black boxes, which makes the job of assigning accountability more difficult.
Only an experienced and strategic attorney can work to prove negligence and responsibility, whether your or loved one’s injuries occurred during a crash, or during the time the aircraft was taxiing, taking off, cruising or landing.
Maryland attorneys representing victims of plane crashes
Did you lose a loved one in a plane crash? Did you suffer life-altering injuries? Aviation accident and crash cases are too complex to handle on your own. Talk to the Maryland injury attorneys at Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. for aggressive and dedicated legal counsel. To learn more, or to schedule a free consultation, please call 410-730-7737 or fill out our contact form.