Aviation law is a complex practice area with highly specific state laws and federal regulations governing when tragedy victims have the right to seek financial compensation for their damages. At Gallagher & Kennedy, our Phoenix aviation accident lawyers have over 40 years of experience handling aviation accident claims in state and federal courts. We have the resources, aviation lawyers, and successful case history to provide high-quality legal representation after an aircraft disaster.
For four decades, injured aviation accident victims and their families have chosen the Phoenix injury attorneys at Gallagher & Kennedy to navigate settlement negotiations and litigate complex injury claims. We understand how to handle each unique accident case to achieve the best possible outcomes for clients. Contact us at (602) 530-8400 for a free consultation.
Why Choose Gallagher & Kennedy?
- We are the premier aviation disaster law firm in Arizona with attorneys regarded as some of the top aviation lawyers in America.
- We have the legal resources of a large firm but use the personal care and attention of a boutique-style shop.
- We have obtained hundreds of millions of dollars for past clients – many of which suffered significant injuries or lost loved ones in aviation disasters.
- We operate on a contingency fee basis. We charge $0 in upfront costs and nothing at all unless we win the case on behalf of the client.
What To Expect From Your Phoenix Aviation Accident Lawyer
Gallagher & Kennedy’s approach to plane crash and aviation disaster law is straightforward and practical. First, we will arrange a free meeting with you and your family to listen to your story. We want to know how the accident impacted your life and what you plan on achieving by talking to a lawyer. Then, we will use our substantial legal resources to approach your case with a results-oriented focus. One of our aircraft accident lawyers will build your case with time and expense management in mind, helping you capitalize on compensation opportunities and overcome challenges along the way.
How Many Plane Crashes Occur in the US Each Year?
With over 220,000 active aircraft, the US has one of the largest and most diverse aviation industries in the world. Planes are just one of many types of general aircraft in the US, which also include rotorcraft, amateur-built devices, hot-air balloons and helicopters. Comparatively, plane crashes are rare in the US. Still, every year, hundreds of planes and other types of aircraft go down, causing many serious injuries and deaths. On average, over 1,000 aviation accidents happen in the US annually.
- In 2018, the US reported 1,347 civil aviation accidents. 2018 was the first in eight years to have a fatality on a large scheduled commercial airline. (Source: the Insurance Information Institute.)
- In 2017, 347 people died in fatal general aviation accidents in the US. There were 209 fatal aircraft crashes in the US in 2017. (Source: the Federal Aviation Administration.)
- Of all the aviation accidents in the US in 2018, the majority (1,275) were in general aviation while only 27 were commercial flights.
- On a global scale, the aviation accident rate in 2018 was 0.19. This translates to about 1 major accident every 5.4 million flights.
- In 2018, there were 30 U.S. air carrier accidents, with 1 related death and 25 injuries. (Source: the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.)
- 14 aviation accidents have happened in the State of Arizona since 1972. The most recent aviation accident in Arizona was in 2011, in Yuma. (Source: National Transportation Safety Board.)
Deadly commercial plane accidents are rare. Most fatal accidents happen outside of the commercial industry, such as with private planes or jets. The owners of these aircraft are generally laxer with safety rules and inspections than airlines in the commercial industry due to fewer federal laws and restrictions. Unfortunately, this can lead to dangerous aircraft and deadly inflight malfunctions. As an aviation accident survivor or loved one, you might have grounds to bring a claim against an aircraft owner or another party for your US aircraft crash.
Types of Aviation Disasters
In our extensive history helping victims within the aviation accident practice area, we have successfully resolved cases involving many different types of aviation accidents and fatal aircraft disasters. We take all kinds of aviation accident claims, including commercial and general accidents. Our attorneys have experience handling tragedies involving numerous types of aircraft.
- Private planes
- Cargo planes
- Medical evacuation aircraft
- Commercial airlines
- Rotor wing aircraft
- Law enforcement aircraft
- Vintage planes
- Air traffic controller errors
Gallagher & Kennedy has taken some of the most high-profile aviation disaster cases in the U.S. In the last 10 years, our Phoenix airplane crash attorneys have worked on virtually every aviation accident case in Arizona, including the Flagstaff Medical Center Air Evac mid-air helicopter collision that took seven lives, the Cave Creek crash in which five people were killed, and the Page airport crash in which one person was killed and five others seriously injured. We have also successfully handled cases against airport operators and Air Traffic Controllers when their actions contribute to controlled airspace crashes. Our Phoenix aviation accident attorneys understand how these complex cases work in Arizona and around the country.
Most Common Aviation Accidents and Causes
Tracking what causes US aviation accidents is a proven way to improve the safety of the industry in the future. Identifying hazards that cause crashes can point to what the government needs to change to make the industry safer for all. Several federal organizations record the number, types and causes of aviation accidents in the country, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board. These statistics can help aviation industry regulators, manufacturers and operators understand what to do and what not to do to prevent accidents. The FAA’s latest available crash statistics list the top causes of accidents in general aviation.
- Loss of aircraft control
- Flight into terrain
- System component failure
- Fuel issues
- Unintended flight in instrument meteorological conditions
- Low-altitude flights
Determining why these types of aviation accidents happen can help the FAA prevent them for future pilots and passengers. Most of the top causes of crashes come down to human error. Pilot error accounts for about 50% of all aviation accidents in the US. Despite modern innovations, pilots still have to multitask in the cockpit, monitoring dozens of gauges and safely controlling the flight. Improper flight monitoring, failure to anticipate bad weather, loss of control and other operator mistakes are behind most aviation accidents in the US.
Other common causes of aviation accidents are mechanical issues and air traffic controller errors. Mechanical problems can also come down to human error. Negligence while installing parts, inspecting the aircraft, making repairs or manufacturing the equipment could lead to deadly failures inflight. The liable party for a mechanical error could be the product manufacturer, the owner of the aircraft, the airline or a maintenance company depending on the circumstances. Air traffic controller errors are another form of human negligence that could lead to inflight disasters.
Sabotage (terrorist activity), weather problems, design defects and poor runway maintenance can also cause aviation accidents. Even aviation accidents that appear weather-related could point to someone’s negligence. For instance, the pilot might be guilty of a failure to check the weather before takeoff or reacting the wrong way to unexpected bad weather in flight. Some of the most common types of accidents include improper landings, mechanical failures, collisions while on the ground/taxiing and midair collisions. Identifying the cause of your aviation accident and the at-fault party are tasks our lawyers can complete for you at Gallagher & Kennedy.
Commercial Airlines and Chartered Aircraft
Commercial airlines, chartered aircraft and private aircraft are all different classes of aircraft. They each have different laws and rules that apply to their operations. Commercial airlines transport passengers or cargo for money. Some of the largest aerospace companies in the world are in commercial aviation, including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Airbus. In general, commercial airlines are held to the highest standards of care and safety in the aviation industry.
A chartered aircraft or charter flight is an aircraft one rents out to use privately. Chartered flights are not a part of an airline’s regularly scheduled flights. Consumers cannot access them through the airline’s general website. Instead, the airline will operate chartered flights for individuals who rent the aircraft. You might find yourself on a charter flight as part of a tour or vacation package, or you might rent out an entire charter flight for a group trip. The FAA monitors chartered aircraft the same way it does commercial aircraft. Both types are generally held to the same safety and performance standards.
Aviation accidents are much less common on commercial and chartered flights than private aircraft in the US. One of the main reasons for this difference is the number of safety regulations each type must obey. Commercial airlines have to follow hundreds of additional safety regulations from the FAA on top of general aviation rules. For example, commercial pilots may only be on duty for a limited amount of time without taking a rest break. Private pilots have no regulations on how much they can fly. Fewer regulations can contribute to more aviation accidents.
State, Federal and International Aviation Laws
Aviation laws are what keep the industry as safe as possible. Most aviation laws have to do with the safety of operations, such as creating aircraft inspection guidelines and mandating piloting rules. Airlines, owners and operators must obey all applicable aviation laws on the state, federal and international levels. Failure to do so could cause a preventable aircraft disaster.
- State. Arizona’s statewide aviation laws include aircraft registration requirements, caps on pilot hours, mandatory maintenance tests, rules on passenger safety and many other regulations. All aircraft owners, pilots and others in the industry in Arizona must abide by state regulations.
- Federal. The FAA has many rules in place for the regulation of the US aviation industry. One such law is 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91: General Operating and Flight Rules. Federal laws aim to protect pilots, airline employees, passengers and the general public.
- International. Flying overseas will invoke international aviation laws. The International Civil Aviation Organization is the main regulating body that imposes most international air travel laws. Like state and federal laws, the main purpose of international aviation laws is to improve overall safety.
A violation of any applicable law during aircraft manufacture, maintenance, control or operation could cause a preventable accident. An investigation of the accident, including retrieving the plane’s black box, could point to a broken aviation law connected to the crash. The person or party that broke the law may then be liable for victims’ injuries, deaths and damages.
Owner, Operator and Manufacturer Liability
If someone else caused or contributed to your aviation accident, that party may owe your family compensation. Liability could come down to the owner of the aircraft, its operator, the manufacturer or a combination of parties depending on the situation. The owner might be liable if an issue related to maintenance, upkeep, inspections or repairs caused the crash. Ensuring aircraft flight worthiness is the responsibility of the owner.
The operator of the aircraft could be legally responsible if a pilot error caused the wreck. Pilot errors while in flight cause the majority of aviation accidents in the US. The pilot could be individually responsible if flying a private aircraft, or else an airline could be vicariously liable for its pilot during a commercial flight. On the other hand, the aircraft manufacturer or distributor may have to pay for damages after an accident involving a defectively designed or produced part.
The laws regarding your aviation case could change depending on the cause of the crash and the identity of the liable party. A product liability claim against the aircraft manufacturer, for example, may use strict liability laws, meaning your lawyer will not have to prove negligence to obtain compensation. Determining liability for you or a loved one’s aviation accident may take assistance from an attorney in Phoenix. The lawyers at Gallagher & Kennedy can review your case and help you decide what step to take next during a free consultation in Phoenix.
Why File an Injury or Death Claim?
Almost all aviation accidents are preventable. They occur when a pilot, aircraft owner, air traffic controller or other parties fail to uphold their duties of care, resulting in hazards that could bring the aircraft down or cause a mid-air collision. When you pursue compensation for an aircraft disaster, you get the opportunity to hold the at-fault person or company accountable for its wrongful or negligent actions. You could also receive financial compensation for your damages through the skills of your Phoenix airplane crash attorney.
Contact Our Phoenix Aviation Accident Attorneys Today
At Gallagher & Kennedy, we represent clients in almost every aspect of the aviation industry. We have helped both those catastrophically injured and the family members of those killed in aircraft disasters in Arizona. Our Phoenix airplane accident lawyers take the time to understand the nuances of each case before tailoring a legal strategy for the client’s individual needs. Speak with one of our lawyers in the aviation accident sector about your serious accident today. Call (602) 530-8400.