California Aviation Accident Lawyer

Silhouette of a helicopter burning after an aviation accident.Flight-based travel is commonly referred to as the safest mode of transportation, often compared to road-based motor vehicles like cars, trucks, and buses. While it is certainly true that road accidents are far more common than aviation accidents, flights carry their own unique set of risks. Arriving safely is never a guarantee. Further, the touted safety statistics often refer exclusively to the largest commercial airline carriers, leaving out the fact that thousands of accidents involving helicopters, smaller planes, and other aircraft happen every year.

Any time an incident occurs onboard an aircraft, the potential for serious injury and death is extremely high. Surviving family members are often left with unanswered questions as to how the aviation accident occurred and who might be liable for the damages inflicted by the loss of a loved one. Even when aviation crash victims survive, they are likely to be left with serious injuries and the possibility of lifelong disabilities.

Pilots, carriers, insurers, airports, and others involved in the crash typically do everything they can to avoid liability. When you work with the experienced California aviation accident attorneys at Singh Ahluwalia Attorneys at Law, you can know you have someone to fight for you in your corner. Call today to discuss your legal options for pursuing compensation from all liable parties. Schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation when you Call (559) 878-4958 or Contact us online .

Why You Can Benefit Greatly From a California Aviation Accident Attorney

Litigation for aviation crashes is notoriously complicated and technical. Individuals holding a high degree of responsibility, such as pilots and air traffic controllers, are likely to be able to cite specific rules and protocols they followed that supposedly put them in compliance with their expected standard of care. Further, FAA investigations may churn up terabytes worth of flight data and documentation but fail to draw firm conclusions on the causes of the accident.

In a sense, proving that one or more parties were liable becomes a game of “He Said, She Said,” but where one party claims to hold all the knowledge. We at Singh Ahluwalia know better. FAA investigations all-too-often miss key details, or they are unwilling to draw reasonable conclusions based on obvious facts. Further, while pilots and others think they can hide behind rules, we also have our own knowledge of rules and protocol.

Our clients can rest assured that we will put every available resource into uncovering blame and seeking every cent of damages inflicted by all liable parties. We refuse to let commercial interests and negligent professionals evade responsibility for the consequences of their negligence. We pledge to do everything we can to fight for your claim and get to the bottom of why the tragic event in question happened.

When you work with an experienced California aviation accident attorney from our firm, you can expect the following:

  • Concerted efforts to recover any and all available evidence. From flight recorder data to radio comms, flight logs, maintenance logs, and other forms of record-keeping, we will put all of our resources into gathering evidence and data for your case.
  • A refusal to take defending party statements at face value. Commercial airlines and other aviation operators are quick to deny liability, offering up what they think is an ironclad story that demonstrates proper due diligence. In reality, these stories often conveniently leave out key facts or misconstrue events strongly in one side’s favor.
  • Accurate valuation of all your damages. From projected future medical costs to full calculation of the value of income lost when a household member passes, we thoroughly investigate and document your damages to seek full recovery for your losses.
  • Comprehensive and compassionate case management. Our goal is to keep you informed and in control at all stages of your claim. You learn about the most-effective legal strategies available, and you are kept up-to-date on case progress at all times.
  • Access to resources from our established legal ally network. From medical experts to pilots willing to perform investigative flyovers, we will use all resources we feel are necessary to build your case and maximize your chances of full recovery.
Call (559) 878-4958 or Contact us online to speak with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers today

Categories of Aviation Accidents in California

An aviation accident is any incident causing significant damage to property or injury — including fatal injuries — to one or more people. Aviation accidents can occur in any vehicle that offers sustained, powered flight, with helicopters and small propeller-driven airplanes being the most common.

Vehicles involved in an aviation accident can involve any of the following types of aircraft:

  • Domestic commercial airliner crashes
  • International commercial flight crashes
  • Private plane accidents
  • Charter plane accidents
  • Helicopter crashes
  • Work flight crashes
  • Air ambulance accidents

Aviation Crash Statistics Are More Dire Than You Might Think

The airline industry is quick to tout numbers they feel make them look like your safety onboard is guaranteed. In reality, flying should still be considered a technical marvel, meaning that any time something goes wrong, the potential for a catastrophic event is high. Further, those “squeaky clean” numbers mostly apply to large commercial operations, which are governed by the strictest rules, standards, and protocols.

2020 data from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) shows that just 14 accidents occurred aboard larger commercial carrier aircraft (governed under 14 CFR 121) that year. While 2020 notably saw historically low commercial flight activity due to the initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the accident rate compared to flight hours remained fairly consistent at 0.132 per 100,000 flight hours for scheduled flights and 0.529 for non-scheduled flights.

However, accidents aboard smaller carrier operators saw a much-higher rate: 2.223 accidents for every 100,000 flight hours for small Commuter planes and 1.317 accidents for On-Demand (Charter) flights.

General aviation accidents saw a much higher rate of 5.572 accidents per 100,000 flight hours. The General aviation category includes private flights, small cargo flights, air ambulance flights, work-related flights for industries like surveillance or agriculture, and all other flights not governed by 14 CFR parts 121 or 135.

Put simply: the less regulated the flight, the higher the potential for disaster. Family members are often devastated to learn of the passing of a loved one who was being transported on a short private flight or working while aboard an aircraft they assumed to be safe. Hobbyists and others seeking to enjoy small aircraft travel are often shocked and devastated to find themselves involved in an accident they had no part in, leaving them with astronomical medical bills and little recourse to turn to for compensation.

Aviation Accident Trends & Statistics From 2012 – 2021

Looking broadly at all flights, the NTSB has created a new dashboard tool showing the most recent years’ worth of flight accident data from 2012 – 2021. A total of 12,368 accidents across all air travel occurred during this period, leading to 3,817 deaths.

The most common phase of flight for an accident to occur is on landing, although these accidents overwhelmingly tend to be non-fatal. Fatal accidents most often occur during the initial climb, while en route at cruising altitude, maneuvering in response to weather or course changes, and during the final approach to the landing site.

Loss of control in-flight was the overwhelming primary event to occur before an aviation accident, with nearly 44% of these accidents causing one or more fatalities. Other common defining events described included:

  • System/Component Failure (Powerplant)
  • Loss of Control on Ground
  • Abnormal Runway Contact
  • Fuel-related Incident
  • System/Component Failure (Non-power-related)
  • Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) — 50% fatality rate
  • Collision on Takeoff or Landing

Fatality rates hold mostly static, whereas the overall accident rate per 100,000 flight hours has steadily decreased since 2012.

Injury vs. Fatality Data for Aviation Accidents

Data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics show that the majority of aviation accidents produce neither injuries nor deaths. However, in incidents where an injury occurs, one or more fatalities is highly likely. In other words, individuals involved in a serious aviation accident are more likely to be killed than to sustain survivable injuries.

As an example, the above-referenced dataset shows 1,157 recorded aviation accidents in the year 2021, leading to 221 seriously injured persons and 344 fatalities. The rate of seriously injured persons per 100,000 flight hours is 1.01, whereas the same rate for fatalities is 1.57.

Put simply: aviation accidents may be relatively rare, but they are highly likely to be deadly. Families affected by the serious injury or death of a loved one are likely to have high damages in the form of the loss of the household member’s income and the mental and emotional suffering caused by their absence.

Damages Available in an Aviation Accident Claim

The damages sought for an aviation accident case will vary based on the individual losses suffered by the claimant. However, there are common categories of damages to reference.

Economic damages include any financial costs the injured party was forced to pay due to their crash. They most commonly include:

  • Emergency medical transport and treatment
  • Hospital inpatient stays
  • Medical services, including diagnostics, surgery, etc.
  • Medication and medical device costs
  • Out-of-pocket expenses related to medical care, such as transportation
  • Future costs of treatment, including physical therapy
  • Lost wages
  • Replacement of lost personal effects

Non-economic damages are harder to quantify, but they nevertheless take a high toll on the victim’s ability to enjoy life. They commonly include:

  • Pain and suffering inflicted by injury
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of ability to enjoy family companionship

Wrongful death claims are extremely common in aviation accident cases, as the injured victim frequently dies soon after the crash or as a result of their injuries. In these cases, the surviving next-of-kin can file a claim seeking restitution for the following:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of companionship, consortium
  • Personal pain and suffering
  • Loss of domestic services performed by the decedent
  • Loss of the decedent’s income to the household
  • Other reasonable and necessary costs

In addition, a representative of the decedent’s estate or an individual vested with their durable powers of attorney can seek damages inflicted upon the victim prior to their death — a claim type known as a survival action. These types of claims can be pursued by next-of-kin, in many cases, and they will include economic damages suffered by the injury victim, such as the costs of their medical treatment immediately prior to their death.

Common Causes of Aviation Accidents in California

There are a number of reasons an aviation accident might occur. In some cases, the accident could be considered unforeseeable and entirely unavoidable. However, many accidents are entirely avoidable. Defects in the aircraft, mistakes made by pilots, and other forms of negligence could all be the primary causes of the accident. That, or these factors could have intensified an accident’s outcome, causing injury or death in what would have otherwise been a minor incident.

According to the aviation accident data dashboard provided by the NTSB, 11,739 accidents investigated by the FAA or other bodies resulted in findings. Of these, 9,506 accidents (81%) involved one or more personnel issues, including errors related to task performance, action/decision, psychological perception, experience/knowledge, or physical capability. 9,439 studied accidents (80%) involved a finding of one or more issues with the aircraft (potentially in addition to personnel issues noted). These aircraft showed frequent issues likely to lead to a catastrophic failure, including overall performance capability, aircraft systems, fluids/misc. hardware, structural components, propellors/rotors, and overall service history or handling of the craft.

The following categories define the majority of aviation accident circumstances, and they illustrate the need for strict supervision and diligent operation by all individuals responsible for the safety of the flight.

Pilot Error

Overcorrection, misjudgment, poor task performance, or a failure to follow established guidelines and protocols are major reasons for many aviation accidents. Pilots may also be experiencing psychological or physical distress, rendering them incapable of performing their duties or responding to emerging flight risks.

Pilots may also be under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or other mind-altering substances during their flight. These issues may be combined with risky behaviors, incompetence, a lack of training/experience, or other underlying factors that contribute to the likelihood of a flight accident.

Other Personnel Error

Flight traffic controllers and other individuals hold a high degree of responsibility for the safe takeoff and arrival of aircraft. Any negligence on their part could greatly contribute to accident scenarios. Similarly, airport personnel and others tasked with safe aircraft operations all hold their responsibilities and are supposed to do their part in preventing an accident from occurring.

Flight crew may also have committed an error or otherwise contributed to the risk of a situation, sometimes making a bad accident much worse through their actions — or inaction.

Mechanical or Equipment Error

Maintenance failures are common on aircraft, with oversights and neglect being common among private craft owners and commercial carrier operators alike. A failure to maintain an aircraft may be the fault of an airliner, aircraft storage facility, private charter operator, or of a contracted maintenance company.

Mechanical or equipment errors can also stem from defects in the craft. Design defects make the aircraft unsafe to operate, either because the craft violated existing guidelines or because the design was such that the manufacturer knew — or should have known — that it was highly likely to be unsafe. Manufacturing defects can also affect the integrity of parts or the operability of systems. Manufacturers may also have failed to warn, or lacked adequate instructions.

Statute of Limitations for Aviation Accident Injury or Wrongful Death Claims

The state of California provides injury victims or their eligible next-of-kin with two years from the date of the accident to come forward with a claim. This two-year period is only extended under certain circumstances, such as:

  • The victim or eligible plaintiff was under age 18 at the time of the incident
  • The defendant cannot be located or will not respond
  • The victim did not know about their injury until a later date
  • Circumstances prevented the filing of a claim, such as the plane wreckage being missing and the status of the flight being inconclusive

It is critical to reach out to a law firm experienced in handling aviation accident claims as soon as possible after your incident. While this is an extremely challenging time for you and your family, a quick response can benefit your case, as evidence is typically most-available in the immediate aftermath of an accident. At the same time, if you have been forced to delay your claim, do not hesitate to speak to an aviation accident lawyer, who may be able to assist you with requesting an extension of the statute of limitations based on your extenuating circumstances.

Work With an Experienced California Aviation Accident Lawyer Near You

Singh Ahluwalia Attorneys at Law is passionate about helping accident injury victims and surviving family members recover after their devastating incident. Our firm was built on the basis of helping individuals in their most dire time of need, regardless of where they come from. That is why we offer services to individuals who speak Hindi, Punjabi, and Spanish in addition to English: we want everyone to have access to the legal representation they need.

If you have been hurt or a loved one has tragically passed following an aviation accident, now is the best time to start filing your claim. You could be able to recover a settlement to pay for the costs of medical care, lost wages, funeral/burial expenses, or other damages you have suffered.

Our services are available to you at no up-front cost, and your first consultation is always 100% free, with no obligation to continue using our services afterward. Get answers to your legal questions, and learn the strategies we could use to seek the maximum amount of compensation available. Schedule your free case review now when you Call (559) 878-4958 or Contact us online .