Aviation Accident Lawsuits: What Causes Of Action Can Be Alleged?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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If you’re involved in an aviation accident, you may be able to allege negligence, strict liability, products liability or even a cause of action under the Montreal Convention. However, knowing which of these to allege is best left to an experienced attorney.

Attorney Larry Goldhirsch

One such attorney is Larry Goldhirsch, a New York plaintiffs’ attorney with 38 years of experience whose practice represents aviation accident victims. It would be an understatement to say that Goldhirsch knows aviation law. In fact, he authored a book on it. We asked him about the different causes of action in aviation accident lawsuits. Here’s what he told us:

One of the causes of action would be under the Montreal Convention (a treaty which regulates international aviation accidents). Other causes of action might be in negligence or in strict products liability. However, products liability cases can not be brought against the airline unless the airline manufactures the airplane, which some companies do, by the way. Products liability cases would be brought against the manufacturer of the plane, and sometimes, there’s more than one manufacturer, so you have to be careful about that.

In fact, there are many joint ventures in which companies, such as Airbus, might supply certain parts to a manufacturer such as Boeing or McDonald Douglas. So, you have to know not only the manufacturer of the end product, but also the intermediate manufacturers because sometimes you might want to sue the manufacturer of the engine if there’s an engine failure, as well as the manufacturer of the end product, whether it’s Boeing, Airbus or anybody else.

An example of a company that builds its own planes is Aeroflot in Russia. Aeroflot is the name of the Russian airline and it also manufactures its own planes. All of these questions have to be undertaken by the attorneys who are familiar with these aviation cases and whether to sue under the Montreal Convention, under some local state law or under some other statute, such as product liability.

Air traffic controller error

Sometimes governmental bodies, such as air traffic controllers, can be involved in aviation accident lawsuits. Goldhirsch explained, “If an air traffic controller has given negligent information or is otherwise involved in some way, the government can be sued. There are different rules when you want to sue the government, the United States of America. Sometimes governments of foreign countries are involved as well.”

He provided the following example, “There was a well known crash some years ago in Tenerife, which is a part of Spain. There was a collision between a KLM and a Pan Am plane and the Spanish government ended up paying, I believe, 20 percent of the settlement because of it’s involvement with respect to its air traffic controllers involved.”

Don’t leave your aviation accident lawsuit to just anyone, contact an experienced lawyer whose practice focuses in this area of the law to discuss your situation. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential.

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