Have you or a loved one been involved in an aviation accident? You may have legal rights to compensation in a Maryland personal injury or wrongful death claim. An experienced Baltimore aviation accident lawyer can help you recover the fair compensation you are entitled to.
At WGK Personal Injury Lawyers, our team has over 100 years of combined experience. We have recovered tens of millions for injured victims of Baltimore truck accident injuries, Baltimore motorcycle injuries, car accident injuries, slip and fall cases, wrongful death claims, and more.
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How WGK Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help After an Aviation Accident in Baltimore
Many people find flying in airplanes unsettling because they know that if something happens at any point in the flight, the consequences may be deadly.
But far more unsettling than anxiety about flying is actually experiencing a serious injury or the devastating loss of a family member in an aviation accident.
Many accidents are preventable events, the unfortunate results of the negligence of other pilots, mechanics, aircraft owners, private jet charter companies, and even air traffic controllers.
The aviation industry has some parallels to the trucking industry, in that it is heavily regulated and monitored. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations cover all aspects of airplane operation, maintenance, and flying, much in the same way Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations regulate the trucking industry.
Pilot organizations and aviation industry professionals often say that “the FARS” (FAA regulations) are “written in blood.” Regulations that mandate and restrict how pilots must fly are very often the result of devastating tragedies where something went terribly wrong. Like with trucking accidents, any aviation accident review will involve a careful review of regulations alongside the accident report.
At WGK Personal Injury Lawyers, our Baltimore personal injury lawyers consult with leading aviation experts and accident reconstructionists to determine the cause of an accident and who may be liable.
We handle all types of aviation accidents, including:
- General aviation accidents
- Air ambulance accidents
- Helicopter accidents
- Hot air balloon accidents
- Private jet charter accidents
- Glider accidents
- Skydiving accidents
- Flight school accidents
- Seaplane accidents
- Airline accidents.
While the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will closely look at accidents to determine their cause, it is up to the people harmed by aviation accidents to pursue a civil claim for personal injury or wrongful death, and this may be their only avenue of holding a negligent party accountable. To discuss a potential claim, call WGK Personal Injury Lawyers today at 410-834-4475 to arrange a free phone or video consultation.
Are Big Airplanes Safer than Small Airplanes?
Perhaps you’ve heard the old axiom: “you’re more likely to be killed on the drive to the airport than on the flight.” This carries several assumptions, including that your flight is on an airline flight and not a small general aviation (GA) aircraft such as a Cessna or Piper.
Why is this? Being “big” alone doesn’t make a jet safer. However, transport category airplanes are subject to strict regulations for design, performance, controllability, maneuverability, and stability. They are subject to regular and thorough maintenance and inspection requirements. Finally, the pilots that fly airline flights are subject to training and experience requirements.
The big jet manufacturers – Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, and Embraer – build multiple redundancies (backup systems) into their airplanes. These aircraft have backup flight instruments and gauges, such as airspeed indicators, altimeters, and attitude indicators. Although the twin engines are not technically redundancies (an airliner cannot legally take off if one engine isn’t working), they are built to be able to land safely on one engine if one experiences an issue in flight. Pilots go through regular training to prepare for these worst-case scenarios.
The FAA has a part of their website dedicated to “Lessons Learned” – which details how lessons from the past have led to aviation safety improvements.
For example, the crash of United Airlines Flight 297, in Howard County, Maryland, led to new FAA regulations requiring newly manufactured and certified aircraft to better withstand “bird strikes” – in-flight encounters with birds. UA Flight 297 killed 13 passengers and 4 crewmembers on November 23, 1962, when the airplane encountered two whistling swans in flight, which severely damaged the plane and led to a loss of control.
Causes of Aviation Accidents
Maryland has had many aviation accidents over the years, including at the big three airports in the state, Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI), Hagerstown Regional Airport (HGR), and Salisbury–Ocean City–Wicomico Regional Airport (SBY)., as well as the smaller municipal and public-use airports.
Some of the top causes of aviation accidents include:
Loss of control in flight
Complete loss of power in flight is a rare event. Depending on the altitude when the power loss occurs, pilots may have numerous options of where to land an aircraft. Choosing an emergency landing spot wisely, and avoiding hazards like power lines, can vastly improve the survivability of complete loss of power.
When loss of power occurs on departure climb-out, pilots’ choices of landing areas are often extremely limited to what is directly in front of them. In one example – July 18, 2013, a Beech 23 crashed shortly after takeoff from Suburban Airport (W18), Laurel, Maryland. The pilot, who was seriously injured in the crash, reported total loss of power after climbing to just 300 feet.
Controlled flight into terrain (commonly referred to as “C-FIT”)
The phenomenon of flying a perfectly working airplane into terrain while under the control of a pilot may be due to skill-based errors, decision errors, or perception errors. The March 6, 1991 plane crash of country singer Reba McEntire’s band occurred because the crew flew a perfectly working Hawker jet into mountainous terrain at night, four minutes after departing San Diego’s Brown Field airport at night. A very similar CFIT crash involving an air ambulance Learjet 35 occurred 13 years later, just 1.5 miles from the site of the Hawker accident.
A mid-air collision occurs when two or more aircraft collide in flight, usually causing damage or total destruction to at least one of the aircraft.
On October 23, 2014, a Robinson R44 helicopter collided with a Cirrus SR22 in Frederick, Maryland. The NTSB reported that among other things, the air traffic controller’s “inadequate task prioritization” contributed to the accident.
Low altitude operations include aerial photography, aerial spotting, aerial surveying, pipeline, and agriculture inspection. Flying at altitudes low to the ground means reduced recovery time anytime an issue arises.
An example of a low altitude operation crash- on September 8, 2019, a Grumman G-164B Ag Cat lost power at low altitudes and crashed in a farm field in Worcester County, Maryland.
Pilot Error & Inexperience
Pilot inexperience and errors on landing also contribute to a large number of accidents in smaller general aviation accidents, many of which are survivable but lead to injuries.
Some incidents in Maryland have included:
- March 6, 2018: A Cirrus SR20 was substantially damaged during an aborted landing at Harford County Airport (0W3), causing minor injuries to the pilot and passenger.
- December 3, 2017: A “bounced” landing at Frederick Municipal Airport (FDK) caused a landing gear tire failure and minor injuries of a pilot-rated passenger.
- March 16, 2015: The pilot of a tailwheel Cessna 140 suffered minor injury when he lost directional control on the landing rollout at Easton, Maryland, airport (KESN).
Every year, hundreds of people are killed in general aviation accidents, and many more are injured in accidents while landing or taxiing. If you or a family member has been involved in an airplane or aviation accident, contact us to discuss your case.
Who is Liable for Baltimore, Maryland Aviation Accidents?
Any party whose negligence causes or contributes to an accident may be liable for resulting injuries or deaths.
Liable parties for aviation accidents include:
- Flight Schools
- Maintenance shops/mechanics
- Air traffic controllers
- Commercial airlines
- Air charter companies
- Air ambulance companies.
When pilots make decisions that lead to a crash, they may be liable for injuries or deaths of others. When air traffic controllers fail to prioritize tasks and do not prevent collisions, they may be responsible for the resulting actions. In 2017, a $17 million settlement was reached with the Air Traffic Control services provider involved in the October 2014 mid-air collision at the Frederick, Maryland airport.
Time is of the essence following an aviation accident. Like all personal injury or wrongful death claims, a statute of limitations applies, which means you have only a limited period of time to file a claim. It is also critically important to preserve evidence and witness recollections as soon as possible, before they are destroyed, lost, or forgotten.
Injuries and Deaths Resulting from Aviation Accidents
Many air travel accidents are simply unsurvivable and result in death to pilots, passengers, and people on the ground.
For those people that survive, catastrophic injuries like:
The physical, mental, and financial impact of medical bills or a devastating loss can be far-reaching. Having an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer who understands the unique challenges of aviation accident claims is necessary.
Get a Free Consultation with a Baltimore Aviation Accident Lawyer
If you have been involved in an airplane accident in Maryland, contact our Baltimore law office. Our law firm has recovered millions of dollars for people injured in accidents, and are ready to help you. As with all of our cases, if we represent you, we will not charge any legal fees unless we recover money for you.
Our Baltimore, MD personal injury law firm also offers: