A family of four was killed in an airplane crash north of San Antonio. Who is legally responsible for this tragedy, and what theories of liability may apply?
According to the Department of Public Safety, the single-engine craft went down shortly after it took off from Krestel Airpark in Spring Branch. Witnesses state that the plane nose-dived into a parking lot just east of Highway 281 and about a half-mile from the runway. When deputies from the Comal County Sheriff’s Office arrived on the scene, the plane was fully engulfed in flames. They later identified the victims as an area man and his wife, along with their 8-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son.
Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration are also participating in the investigation.
Once authorities retrieve and analyze the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, they should have a good idea as to the cause of the crash. These devices can typically survive and impact of up to 3,400 g and temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees.
Sometimes, the negligent pilot is responsible. Essentially, the plaintiff must prove that the pilot was not experienced or skilled enough to operate that specific type of plane, and that another pilot would have reacted to the emergency situation differently or would have used a better approach to flying.
Specific federal laws may also apply. If the incident involved any negligence on behalf of the FAA – such as a negligent inspector or flight controller – the Federal Tort Claims Act comes into play. A claim must be submitted within two years on a specific form. The agency then has six months to either admit or deny your claim, in whole or in part. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome, or the agency fails to act, you may sue in court.
A defective product is a third possibility. The flight data recorder documents critical performance information, and if anything is not operational within technical specifications, the deficiency may be due to a design or manufacturing defect.
Aviation crash victims may be entitled to money damages, including compensation for both economic and non-economic losses. Punitive damages may also be available, in some cases.
Serious crashes occur on air, land, and sea. If you were injured in an accident, contact an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney for a free consultation. The Bettersworth Law Firm does not charge any upfront legal fees in these cases. Call 830-443-9193 to reach our office.