The Goldberg Law Firm Co., LPA

The Goldberg Law Firm Co., LPA

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Ohio Airplane Crash Lawyers

An aviation accident is an occurrence on board an aircraft resulting in injury or death to one or more persons. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board definition of an aviation accident is as follows:

An occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight and all such persons have disembarked, and in which any person suffers death or serious injury, or in which the aircraft receives substantial damage.

An aviation incident is an occurrence other than an accident, associated with the operation of an aircraft, which affects or could affect the safety of operations.

Other countries adopt a similar approach, although there are minor variations, such as to the extent of aviation-related operations on the ground, covered, as well as with respect to the thresholds beyond which an injury is considered serious or the damage is considered substantial. A hull-loss accident is one where the damage to the plane is such that it must be written off, or in which the plane is totally destroyed.


Since the birth of flight, aircraft have crashed, often with serious consequences. This is because of the unforgiving nature of flight, where a relatively insubstantial medium, air, supports a significant mass. Should this support fail, there is limited opportunity for a good outcome. Because of this, aircraft design is concerned with minimizing the chance of failure, and pilots are trained with safety a primary consideration.

Despite this, accidents still occur, though statistically flying is nowadays an extremely safe form of transportation. In fact, the relative rarity of incidents, coupled with the often dramatic outcome, is one reason why they still make headline news. Nevertheless, while the odds of actually getting caught in a plane crash are nowadays distinctly low compared to other means of transportation. It is a myth that the chances of not surviving such a disaster are notably higher, recent reports illustrate that 95% airline accidents are survivable.

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Approximately 80 percent of all aviation accidents occur shortly before, after, or during takeoff or landing, and are typically the result of human error and/or unregarded technical problems within an aircraft. Mid-flight disasters are rare and make up 6% of incidents. Among other things, the latter have been caused by bombs, as in the 1988 Lockerbie incident, mid-air collisions such as in the 2002 Überlingen crash or in cases of (purportedly) mistaken identity, where civilian aircraft were shot down by military (compare Korean Air Flight 007).

An accident survey of 2,147 aircraft accidents from 1950 through 2004 determined the causes to be as follows:

  • 45% Pilot error;
  • 33% Undetermined or missing in the record;
  • 13% Mechanical failure;
  • 7%:Weather;
  • 5% Sabotage (bombs, hijackings, shoot-downs);
  • 4% Other human error (air traffic controller error, improper loading of aircraft, improper maintenance, fuel contamination, language miscommunication etc.); and
  • 1% Other cause.

The survey excluded military, private, and charter aircraft.

A study by Boeing [2] (page 19) determined the primary cause of Airline hull loss accidents (worldwide commercial jet fleet) from 1996 through 2005, to be:

  • 55% Flight Crew error;
  • 17% Airplane;
  • 13% Weather;
  • 7% Misc./Other;
  • 5% ATC; and
  • 3% Maintenance.

That study included 183 accidents, with known causes for 134 of them. The remaining 49 were unknown, or awaiting final reports.

Previous Boeing studies showed higher rates for Flight Crew Error:

  • 70%: 1988 – 1997;
  • 67%: 1990 – 1999;
  • 66%: 1992 – 2001;
  • 62%: 1994 – 2003; and
  • 56%: 1995 – 2004.

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Safety has improved greatly since the early days of aviation. The two major aircraft manufacturers, Boeing and Airbus, have both made safety a major selling point because a poor safety record would be a threat to their corporate survival. Consequently, safety equipment for aviation is now a billion-dollar industry in its own right.

Some major safety improvements in commercial aircraft have included:

  • Multiple redundancy in all critical systems and manual back-up such as landing gear that can be lowered even after loss of power and hydraulics;
  • Avionics, such as Airborne Collision Avoidance Systems and other computerized warning systems;
  • Engine reliability improvements;
  • Evacuation slides – to aid rapid passenger exit from aircraft in emergencies;
  • Better training of flight crews using flight simulators; and
  • Greater understanding of human behavior of pilots and ground crews.

In comparison with other forms of transport, air has a far lower risk of death per passenger mile than road. It, however, remains significantly less safe than rail.[3]

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  Investigatory Agencies

In the United States, many civil aviation incidents have been investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board. When investigating an aviation disaster, NTSB investigators piece together evidence from the crash and determine the likely cause(s).

Safety experts tell us that commercial airlines are the safest mode of travel. It is amazing that flying 5 miles high at 600 miles per hour in a giant aluminum cigar is safer than ground travel, although there are no fender-benders in the sky.  It is somewhat riskier to fly in small private aircraft and helicopters– but still safer than ground travel. No wonder than literally millions of Americans fly the friendly skies every day.

While relatively rare in the United States, air disasters pose a terrible tragedy for the victims and their families. Survivors of aviation accidents are often horribly scarred and disabled for life. When a victim perishes in an air disaster, there may be no body for the loved ones to claim for the funeral. A gaping hole is torn in the lives of the victim’s family– who may never fully recover from their grief. If the victim was a breadwinner for the family, financial stress may quickly mount, compounding the overwhelming sense of loss.

Aside from terrorist sabotage, the cause of an aviation disaster is usually unclear until full investigation is completed. But there is always a cause, whether relatively obvious or highly elusive. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is charged with developing safeguards and overseeing aviation safety for both commercial and private flights. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is responsible for investigating every civil aircraft accident and recommending safety standards to prevent future accidents. Causes of aviation accidents include:

  • Defective design of the aircraft;
  • Defective manufacture of the aircraft;
  • Unaddressed structural problems;
  • Negligence in proper maintenance;
  • Faulty equipment;
  • Faulty instructions;
  • Inadequate training;
  • Pilot error; illness, fatigue and/or incompetence;
  • FAA Regulation Violations;
  • Dangerous cargo;
  • Negligence of Air Traffic Control instructions; and
  • Negligence in a third party’s selection of a carrier

Nothing can bring back or fully restore the victim of an aviation accident. Nonetheless, when an aviation accident occurs through negligence, the victim and/or their family should be compensated– insofar as money alone is capable of helping ease their burden. However, receiving just compensation usually requires initiating a legal action against those responsible for the accident.

Aviation litigation is complex. There are many theories of liability under state law, federal law, and even international law. The aircraft’s designer, marketer, owner, operator, and maintenance suppliers may share liability. Proving who should pay in settlement or court proceedings requires a seasoned and sophisticated trial lawyer.

At Goldberg Law offices, we have over 23 years of experience helping Ohio victims of aviation accidents or their families. We know how to bring effective claims against those responsible for the accident. We have a full-time physician on staff to review the nature of the injuries or manner of death, along with expert aviation consultants to help prepare your case for trial or settlement. We are not afraid to go up against any aircraft manufacturer, airline company, or other responsible party.

Our Ohio Aviation Attorneys offer a no-charge consultation and will be happy to discuss a potential claim involving injury of death from an aviation accident. Victims of tragic accidents and their families deserve full compensation– and the best legal team to fight for them. Note, however, any potential claim must be filed within the applicable Statutes of Limitation, which are very short for injury and wrongful death actions. We can answer your questions about your claim and concerns about the time frame in which to bring it. Please don’t let the compensation you may be entitled to lapse for failure to file your claim in a timely fashion. We take pride in providing victims of aviation accidents with the highest quality representation. Please call today to discuss your potential claim with an experienced lawyer,  at no cost to you.

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