What is Airline Liability? Here’s What Passengers Should Be Aware Of!
Busy airports all over the country, and the world, are commonplace in 2019; we’ve all become used to logging on and booking airfare to wherever we want to go. It’s as easy as a few taps on an iPhone. The biggest concern for most travelers today is finding the lowest fare before someone else does! Vacations planned months ago, reuniting with family members we don’t see often, and traveling for work conferences all require boarding a plane to get where we need to go quickly and safety. Air travel for any reason has proven to be the safest and most efficient, cost effective form of travel available today for families, individuals, and professionals alike.
So what happens when this safe mode of transportation causes a passenger to become injured while they’re aboard the aircraft? This article will answer several important questions related to plane accidents and the injuries that can result.
- Are advances in air travel adequate?
- How have modern safety standards changed air travel?
- How does technology affect air travel?
- More safety related writeups from our Law Resource
Are advances in air travel adequate?
Traveling in 2019 is not so far removed from what it was in the early 1900s, however, when boarding a plane first became the way we first became able to travel coast to coast and country to country more quickly than ever before. Before air travel, it took weeks by ship to travel to or from the United States. Aside from the fact the convenience that remains the same, although we’ve greatly improved the offered food and beverage in-flight, and safety precautions are still announced over the speakers, the rate of accidents that happen on planes has dramatically increased in the last two decades.
The question remains, are the advances made in air travel adequate? What do travelers need to know about airplane safety? And what happens if a passenger or their loved one becomes injured while flying? This article will answer those questions and provide at the too-little discussed subject or airline accidents that must not be overlooked, especially when travel is increased during the holiday season.
Advances in air travel are still occurring every day. As we first delved into in last summer’s What is Airline Liability? writeup, airlines hold employed flight crew to “sky high” standards. Every mistake in the digital era is only a click away, and once it makes its way to Twitter and YouTube, the public outcry can and often does prompt enraged reactions and public statements (though not always “apologies”) released from the airline’s representatives with little in the way of compensation for those injured (save for a couple of free flights).
That’s why the Law Resource sets out to provide the information our readers need in the event of a plane (or any severe) accident. Pursuing litigation after becoming injured is a complicated process, and those who’ve sustained injuries as a result of a plane accident should seek sound, Board Certified legal advice as quickly as possible.
Questions asked in the digital age, now more able to be answered than ever before after a plane accident include:
- What was occurring?
- Was the pilot or flight crew determined to be intoxicated?
- Did the pilot or one of the flight crew have a medical crisis?
- Did the plane have equipment failure?
- Was there fire aboard?
It’s for this reason, with technology and the ability to more accurately determine what goes wrong during tragic plane accidents, that the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) has begun to increase the strictness with which they enforce the standard of care expected of the pilot and his or her flight crew for airline passengers.
How have modern safety standards changed air travel?
The safety standards employed by airlines, airplane manufacturers, the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) and the FAA are all far more rigorous than they were pre-9/11, when the world was an entirely different place for travelers. With long TSA lines to ensure everyone on every flight stays safe and strict guidelines on what’s no longer allowed on a plane, air travel now requires a level of preparation it didn’t even 30 years ago.
Today, safety standards begin from the screws that hold the plane together all the way to the flight attendant serving beverages and reciting the safety information before takeoff. Everyone on the flight crew and those on the ground all must work together, efficiently and abide by strict regulations when it comes to passenger safety. No detail is ignored in the event of a tragedy such as a plane crash or emergency landing due to mechanical failure. These are things that can cause harm or even become fatal to passengers, and must be thoroughly investigated when they occur, no matter how rare they may be to the public.
Some of these safety standards can be found in the following areas of air travel:
- The manufacturer: who built the plane? When were those employees last given training on plane mechanics and were all certifications maintained and kept up to date? At this level of mechanical failure, liability for negligence resulting in an accident, emergency landing, or crash may be placed upon manufacturer who did not employ flight crew that met FAA’s rigorous standards standards, and/or was careless in their background checking policy.
- Aircraft mechanic: if a specialized plane mechanic hired to fix an acknowledged problem failed to perform their duties, “the standard of care” required of them by federal law, they may be found negligent and can ultimately be held liable for their careless (and possibly reckless) actions. Failing to maintain certification, lying about licensure, or performing duties while under the influence can gravely affect an aircraft’s ability to function properly, which can result in a catastrophic accident.
- The aircraft retailer: the seller of the airplane (whether a large corporation or a smaller boutique company) can be held liable if it’s found that they knowingly sold a plane, or even a fleet of aircrafts to an airline that were defective or that malfunctioned during any testing of the aircraft while in the manufacturing stage.
How does technology affect air travel?
In the early aughts, (think, a time before there was an iPhone in every hand on board a plane) if a passenger sustained an injury of any kind, or had a health crisis resulting from unsafe in-flight conditions, the world at large would never find out about it unless the affected passenger(s) chose to pursue litigation against the airline for the injuries sustained as a result of the airline’s negligence.
Today, a concussion or other serious injury sustained on a flight can mean liability issues made instantly visible all over the internet. In a matter of seconds Twitter, Instagram, and FaceBook will know every detail of what transpired on the flight. An even more tragic occurrence in the digital age, is when plane crashes occur, last moments aboard the flight recorded on phones or iPads are often recovered from wreckage. In these unimaginable circumstances, families may be able to hear what went wrong before the accident, and it can greatly assist the FAA in their investigation. Families thusly have a better chance of pursuing litigation against the airline, which can result in a large amount of compensation to provide for the loved ones of the deceased.
More safety related writeups from our Law Resource
Keep reading our Law Resource Blog daily for more accident liability and summer safety related writeups, and check out our in-depth look at the NTSB and the FAA from 2018’s Plane Accidents Are Tragic, Unexpected. In 2018’s popular writeup we provided the important purposes these government agencies serve to the public when it comes to getting passengers in the air where they need to go safely.