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by The Beasley Firm  |  August 26, 2016  |  

Aviation litigation takes many shapes. The most common form of litigation revolves around a general aviation plane or helicopter crash. Other scenarios include aviation business disputes, in-flight airline injuries, airport premises liability, and commercial airplane crashes.

Any time there is an airplane or helicopter crash, it is presumed the injuries to the occupants will be catastrophic, including death. The crash can be caused, however, by any number of things: engine failure, engine component failure, carburetor failure, improper or inadequate maintenance, design defects, mid-air collisions, air-traffic control negligence, and pilot error.

When someone is injured or killed in an aviation crash, it is imperative that their family or loved ones contact an experienced aviation attorney as soon as possible. Preservation of the wreckage and all of its component parts is crucial. A missing part can be the difference between a seven or eight figure recovery and a dismissal of the case. In the past two years alone, the Beasley Firm has litigated aviation cases in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

General Aviation Accidents Occurring on Landing/Takeoff

Many airplane crashes occur on takeoff and landing. The proximity to the ground makes it extremely difficult and sometimes even impossible for the most skilled and experienced pilots to recover from an unanticipated abrupt occurrence, such as engine failure, a near mid-air collision, faulty instructions from air traffic control, or loss of directional control. Sometimes pilots have no choice but to intentionally “crash land” the airplane to avoid a catastrophic roll.

For over thirty years, The Beasley Firm has obtained substantial results in all aspects of aviation litigation. Whether it was Jim Beasley, Sr.’s record $29 million verdict against Cessna Aircraft Corporation, which paved the way for a complete change in the design of one of the most popular aircraft in the world, or the Firm’s deep involvement in the fatal crash of Senator Heinz, the Beasley Firm has been a leader in aviation litigation for over twenty-five years.

Recent results include multiple multimillion dollar settlements and verdicts. In early 2015, Jim Beasley won a significant seven-figure settlement for the family of a pilot against an aircraft manufacturer and training facility. Our pilot client was unable to maintain control of the high performance airplane during a go-around because of the airplane’s dangerous tendency to violently roll during go-around when adding power. The day after Jim Beasley completed discovery in the case, the manufacturer implemented a design change intended to help resolve the rolling problem. The case was successfully litigated in Massachusetts and Florida.

Lawsuits for a Pilot’s Failure to Maintain Control of an Aircraft

Although pilot error does occur and may lead to a crash, more times than not, the fault is wrongly placed on pilots for failure to maintain control of the aircraft. In fact, more times than not, the underlying reason for the loss of control of the aircraft cannot be corrected by the average pilot.

Mid-Air Collision Lawsuits

Mid-air collisions can occur for any number of reasons. Air traffic controllers have the responsibility to issue traffic advisories, traffic alerts, and safety alerts when they notice a dangerous situation. Too often, the NTSB will blame the mid-air collision on the pilots for “failure to see and avoid” each other. In reality, the “see and avoid” principle is flawed.

In February 2015, Jim Beasley and Lane Jubb won a $5.4 million dollar verdict in the Gardella case. In the Gardella case, a flight instructor was killed in a mid-air collision when the Beechcraft Bonanza he occupied collided with a Piper Cherokee over Sumerduck, Virginia. The Air Traffic Controller on duty for that airspace allowed the two VFR (visual flight rules) aircraft to merge for over one minute before the collision. The Controller made no effort to inform either aircraft of the other’s location. The case was tried in the Eastern District of Virginia before a Federal Judge. Virginia law, however, would preclude Mr. Gardella’s family from recovering any award if he was found to have been even 1% at fault for the mid-air collision. Most importantly, the verdict cleared Mr. Gardella and the other experienced pilots of any wrongdoing – something that would not have occurred if the action was not filed or if the case settled before trial.

Other Types of Aviation Litigation

  • Aviation Business Disputes: These types of lawsuits are usually brought when there are issues with breach of contract, damage caused by pilot error, and negligent maintenance. Other cases may involve storage of the aircraft, purchase, and tax and title disputes.
  • Airline Disappearance or Airline Crash Litigation: Airline disappearance and crash litigation is initiated by families who have lost loved ones on commercial airliners.
  • Airport Premises Liability: These cases are brought forth in situations when someone is injured on the airport property, including slip and fall accidents or injuries caused by an airport shuttle. If security for the airport is inadequate and assault occurs, this may also fall under the premises liability laws.

Philadelphia Aviation Accident Lawyers at The Beasley Firm

Any time an aviation matter results in litigation, it requires specific legal knowledge and powerful advocacy. Jim Beasley, Jr is recognized around the world for his skills in airplanes and particularly high performance warbirds. Read more about Jim’s aviation experience here. Lane Jubb is also a pilot.

While some law firms may hire experts to investigate aviation crashes, Jim and Lane won’t hesitate to grab a video camera and recreate the same flight path, in the same airplane, at a safe altitude to play for the Judge, Jury, or Insurance Company at the time of trial.

The Beasley Firm and its aviation attorneys recognize the various aspects of what can go wrong in a plane and the factors that could lead to a serious injury in-flight. We’re proud to represent the pilots, and their families, when the NTSB and the manufacturers try to blame them for crashes when they are no longer here to defend themselves. We have the experience and record of success needed to handle complex aviation litigation from start to finish.

Call our Philadelphia aviation accident attorneys and learn more about how we may be able to help you in your potential lawsuit.

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