Today’s headlines are uncomfortably replete with stories of air traffic controllers asleep at the command, pilots flying under the influence and flight attendants losing their cool. But how can all this seeming aeronautical negligence affect you as the commercial traveler? Very easily. Negligent airline and transportation employees can easily cause devastating accidents as airlines are constantly being forced to re-route or abort the flight as a result of air traffic controllers misdirecting planes or not responding at all. Injury lawsuits abound on the private side of things as many inexperienced private pilots have plummeted to their death carrying one or more passengers. While many think that personal injury is limited just to car accidents, injuries from airplanes are becoming all too common.
The most recent debate within the national airline industry is whether air traffic controllers should be allowed to take scheduled naps during long overnight shifts while another controller is on duty. Many feel that allowing controllers to nap is a safe and effective way to ensure alertness while ultimately results in increased passenger safety, reduced cost and better-run airports. Just within the past month, three air traffic controllers have been suspended indefinitely for napping on the job. The federal government is “outraged” by the incidents but the Union has other ideas. Pointing to solid evidence set forth by NASA, a 26-minute nap can increase alertness by 54%. Sleep experts have opined that air traffic controllers should be monitored under fatigue-management plans, especially those controllers working overnight shifts where fatigue is inevitable.
Private plane aviation accidents are usually attributed to more than just fatigue mismanagement. A variety of factors can cause private plane fatalities. Unfortunately, many of those can be directly attributed to inexperienced pilots, unjustified risk taking and flying in inclement weather. Statistics show that the vast majority of aviation accidents involving private pilots take place during takeoff and landing as the pilot is not adept in either. Pilots often choose to fly in “iffy” weather and wind up injured or killed when the inexperience coupled with severe storms overwhelm the navigator. Sadly, one plane crash tends to affect multiple families as groups often choose to fly together in private planes for recreation.
Before stepping foot in either a private or commercial aircraft, it is best to know your rights and how negligence at the hands of the pilot or transportation employees can impact you. First, if you or a close relative are killed in an airline crash, surviving family members may be entitled to recovery under California’s wrongful death statute. This allows grieving widows and children the opportunity to collect from the liable party responsible for the injury. Any party who has contributed to the resulting injury may be held liable in negligence for any act or omission resulting in harm. This can include the pilot, airline corporation, owner of the airplane or even other passengers. It will always depend on the facts.
If you or someone you care about have been injured in an aviation accident, do not hesitate to contact our offices today. We would love to put our personal injury experience to work for you.