Small Plane Crashes Increase Dramatically in 2021

August 29, 2023

Fatal turboprop planes and business jet crashes in the United States doubled during 2021, according to a recent report. 

The number of fatalities increased almost as much, from eighteen to forty-six. Six aircraft manufacturers built all the planes involved in all these crashes.

Investigators often rely on information from a black box flight data recorder to determine the cause of a crash. 

What Causes Small Plane Crashes?

As we go through the possible causes of small plane crashes in California, alert readers will notice that the causes overlap. For example, both pilots and mechanics have a duty to perform preflight inspections.

These situations involve some obscure legal doctrines, including joint and several liability, mandatory counterclaims, and permissive counterclaims. If all these Legalese terms don’t make sense, don’t fret. The bottom line is that a Los Angeles personal injury attorney has multiple legal options in these situations.

These roads all lead to the same place, which is maximum compensation for your serious injuries.

Mechanical Error

AIrplane mechanics are very highly paid for a reason. These individuals have extensive training and experience. They also have significant safety and legal responsibilities.

These responsibilities usually begin before airplanes take off. They must carefully inspect aircraft, bringing all of their training and experience to bear. This inspection involves far more than a visual inspection. Mechanics must test individual components and ensure they’re working properly. They must also test sections of the airplane, like the engines and the flaps, to ensure these parts are working together properly.

Post-flight inspections are very similar. Mechanics must carefully examine planes and get ahead of any possible problems. Basically, if a part or system is in the yellow, as opposed to in the green, it probably needs further inspection, and quite possible repair or replacement.

Legally, the airport or other organization that employed the mechanic is responsible for damages in these cases, under the respondeat superior rule.

These damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Pilot Error

Human error by pilots causes over 75 percent of the plane crashes in California. Some common pilot errors include:

  • Bad Weather: VFR or IFR into IMC (visual flight rules or instrument flight rules into instrument meteorological conditions) is the most common pilot error. Many pilots have too much confidence in themselves or their instruments. Others give into passengers who want to reach their destinations as soon as possible.
  • Ground Collisions: CFIT (controlled flight into terrain), which is a close second, is often related to VFR/IFR into IMC. If a pilot cannot see the ground, perhaps because of fog, it’s much easier to hit the ground. If a mechanical problem causes a takeoff or landing crash, the wreck could be the mechanic’s fault for not addressing a problem or the pilot’s fault for ignoring an issue.
  • Communication Issues: Pilots, like the rest of us, often hear what they want to hear. Experienced pilots know what air traffic controllers usually say, so they assume that’s what they always say. Misunderstandings happen too. In these situations, pilots should always ask for clarification. However, pride often gets in the way, and they don’t ask for help.

Flicker vertigo, a common pilot condition, is a common thread. Airplane consoles have so many blinking and flashing lights that pilots, especially new pilots, often almost fall into trances.

A pilot’s safety responsibilities, much like a driver’s safety responsibilities, begin before the engine starts. Pilots and drivers both have a legal duty to visually inspect their vehicles and look for problems. The responsibility is much greater for pilots. Drivers can usually pull over if something goes wrong with their cars or trucks. Airplanes usually crash in these situations.

Product Defect

The chain of events which inevitably ends in a crash often begins in the hangar or on the runway. Sometimes, this chain starts even earlier. Mechanics have a legal duty to maintain airplanes safely, pilots have a legal duty to fly them safely, and manufacturers have a duty to build them safely.

Alas, many product manufacturers, including airplane manufacturers, are so concerned with profits that safety takes a back seat. Common product defects include:

  • Design Defects: “Good enough” isn’t good enough in this context. Airplanes and airplane components must be designed to withstand more than the normal amount of use. The airplane crash fatality rate is much higher than the vehicle collision fatality rate.
  • Manufacturing Defects: Most airplanes aren’t built in the same place. They’re only assembled in the same place. The different parts usually come from different parts of the world. Many of these countries don’t have strict product safety standards.

Companies that make defective products which injure people cannot hide behind pilot or mechanical error. Generally, these firms are strictly liable for injuries in these cases. So, a Los Angeles personal injury attorney must only establish cause, which is a link between the defect and the injury. Moreover, additional punitive damages are usually available in these cases, since the legal safety standard is so high. Accident victims are entitled to maximum compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.

Image Credit: Photo by Maksim Chernishev on Unsplash

Sharona Hakim

Sharona Eslamboly Hakim, Esq. is a successful personal injury attorney and the principal of the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim firm in Beverly Hills, California.

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