United States airline accidents can involve any domestic flight conducted by an air carrier for profit. This includes both scheduled air carriers and charter companies. While commercial air travel is still considered to be one of the safest forms of transportation, a variety of factors contribute to maintaining that safety. Pilot training, crew resource management, aircraft maintenance, air traffic controller support, airport operations and maintenance, and aircraft manufacturing and design, must all function without flaw in order to prevent accidents from occurring.
Whatever the cause, commercial aircraft accidents frequently result in catastrophic injuries or death. The laws surrounding these tragic events can be complex and when the airline has every reason to try and limit their liability in the event of a U.S. airline accident, it is important to have an experienced team fighting for you.
Experience and Results in U.S. Airline Accident Litigation
At Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, P.C., our personal injury and wrongful death attorneys have extensive experience pursuing U.S. airline accident claims, including identifying defendants and liable parties and working to recover full compensation for victims and their families. Our firm has successfully litigated cases against all major airlines in the United States that have been involved in plane accidents, as well as a number of international airlines.*
We know that no amount of money will replace the loss of a loved one or completely restore a person to their previous health and vitality. When we take on cases stemming from plane accidents, our experienced team will be there to help with urgent matters, to manage and conduct an in-depth investigation, to protect our clients' rights and to obtain full and just compensation. We also seek non-traditional remedies where appropriate. For example, in 2003 we organized the first official public airline apology in history. At a ceremony in Charlotte, N.C., the responsible airline issued the surviving family members a public apology as part of a settlement agreement.
- Maintenance Negligence: It is becoming increasingly common for airlines to outsource aircraft maintenance to third parties in the U.S. and abroad. By doing this, airlines are exposing air travelers to needless risk, all in the name of boosting profits by keeping costs down.
- Design or Manufacturing Defects: Commercial planes and their components must be designed to withstand the stresses of flight. In flight, systems must be designed to operate with regard to human needs under all operating conditions, including high workload and stress situations. In the event that aircraft design is inadequate, the manufacturer of the defective plane or part needs to be held accountable.
- Flight Crew Negligence: Crew negligence can easily lead to a U.S. airline accident. If the pilot is inattentive or not properly trained in operating the aircraft, the crew skips critical safety checks, or the flight attendants fail to complete their duties, anything from in-flight injuries, runway crashes, or even devastating mid-air plane crashes can be the result.
- Corporate Negligence: Airline pilots and crew members are increasingly pushed by corporate policies to fly with the minimum amount of fuel to cut down on costs, or make unsafe landings to avoid delays and canceled flights. These cost cutting measures have an effect on safety and needlessly open the door to a potential U.S. airline accident.
Examples of our U.S. Airline Accident Cases
Our firm has a successful track record handling U.S. airline accident cases. Please look at our major airline accidents case list for a more comprehensive view of our experience.
JetBlue Flight 1416 In-Flight Incident: On September 18, 2014, JetBlue Flight 1416 departed from Long Beach Airport with 147 people onboard. Roughly 20 minutes into the Austin, Texas-bound flight, passengers heard a loud bang and smoke began to plume throughout the passenger cabin as the plane was over the Pacific Ocean. Many passengers went into panic. A few struggled to breathe. One passenger would later tell CNN that oxygen masks never fell from the ceiling, so flight attendants had to manually hand them out. Many suffered severe stress and fear of impending crash and death. Dozens of passengers forced to endure this in-flight emergency, retained Baum, Hedlund, Aristei and Goldman to represent them in their JetBlue lawsuit.
Continental Connection / Colgan Air Flight 3407 Crash: Our firm was retained to handle a wrongful death case that arose from the February 12, 2009 crash. Our lawsuit alleged that Flight 3407 flew into icing conditions even though the aircraft was equipped with ineffective de-icing equipment. We argued that defective aircraft design was a significant cause of this U.S. airline accident that took the lives of 50 people when it crashed into a house near Buffalo, New York.
Southwest Airlines Flight 1248 Crash: On December 8, 2005 Southwest Airlines Flight 1248 headed for Chicago Midway International Airport after a successful take off from Baltimore. However, the flight encountered a snow storm and the plane was delayed for 35 minutes before attempting to land on a runway that would turn out to be too small to stop the plane efficiently. The plane skidded off the runway and crashed through the airport barrier, eventually stopping on South Central Ave, killing a young child in a parked car on the street. Baum Hedlund represented six of the injured passengers.
US Airways Express/Air Midwest Flight 5481 Crash: Air Midwest Flight 5481 taking off from Charlotte-Douglas International Airport crashed shortly after takeoff on January 8, 2003. The Raytheon Beechcraft was destroyed by impact forces and a fire that resulted from the plane impacting a nearby building. The NTSB determined several contributing factors to the cause of the accident, including the oversight of Air Midwest's maintenance and procedures, the weight the plane was carrying and the incorrect rigging of the elevator control system. Twenty-one fatalities resulted in the crash.
Baum Hedlund represented the families of two victims in this U.S. airline accident and to our knowledge, it is the first case ever resulting in a public apology directly from an airline. Air Midwest Airlines, the maintenance provider responsible for the crash, publicly apologized as part of the settlement terms, and acknowledged deficiencies that contributed to the accident. The apology was negotiated by Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman. The event was organized and directed for the benefit of all the families of the passengers and crew of the crash. It was part of the final settlement agreement Baum Hedlund negotiated between the airline and our clients. This provided another level of justice for all the victims of this tragedy and Baum Hedlund was proud to be a part of it.
September 11, 2001 Plane Crashes: Our law firm represented the families of dozens of passengers killed on the four planes hijacked on September 11, 2001. Our aviation attorneys filed the first civil lawsuits on behalf of victims' families who chose to forego a settlement from the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund as they felt it was inadequate and failed to hold those responsible accountable for the security lapses leading up the attacks.
Our 9/11 lawsuits targeted United Airlines and American Airlines, as well as the security firms Huntleigh USA Corp. and Argenbright Security Inc. American and United had contracted the security firms at the airports where the hijackers were able to board the planes, armed with weapons later used in the attacks. Also, after filing required government claims, we sued the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The lawsuits charged the defendants with negligence, reckless conduct, and conscious disregard for the rights and safety of their airline passengers and for failing to prevent the crashes. Several Baum Hedlund attorneys were appointed to the Plaintiffs' Executive Committee, September 11, 2001 Tort Litigation, the group of leading attorneys responsible for the coordination and litigation of the consolidated 9/11 lawsuits.
- American Airlines Flight 11, World Trade Center North, New York
Two of the hijackers first went through security at Portland International Jetport in Maine for their flight to Boston. Then all the hijackers on this flight gained access to AA Flight 11 gate through Globe Security under a contract with American Airlines at Boston Logan International Airport.
- United Airlines Flight 175, World Trade Center South, New York
Huntleigh USA performed the screening for this flight at Boston Logan, controlled by United Airlines.
- American Airlines Flight 77, Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia
Argenbright Security screened the hijackers for this flight at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia under contract with United Airlines.
- United Airlines Flight 93, near Shanksville, Pennsylvania
The hijackers were screened by Argenbright Security at Newark International Airport, controlled by United Airlines.
Alaska Airlines Flight 261 Crash: Our firm represented the families of 15 passengers killed on the January 31, 2000 flight when it crashed into the Pacific Ocean after experiencing a loss of pitch control. The NTSB investigation found that inadequate maintenance lead to the failure of the stabilizer system during the flight. All 88 people on board the flight lost their lives in this tragic U.S. airline accident. Our lawsuit alleged that Alaska Airlines was negligent by providing improper maintenance of its vital plane systems and that the pilots could have executed a precautionary landing when the issue with the stabilizer first appeared, but failed to do so. The lawsuit also included allegations against the aircraft and parts manufacturers for failing to warn against the defective and dangerous design and conditions of the plane and its parts. After much litigation, the Boeing Co. and Alaska Airlines eventually conceded that they were liable for the crash and settlements were reached for all of our clients.
Learn more about a specific U.S. airline accident history and examples of cases handled by Baum Hedlund (this list only includes a portion of our case history):
Why Should I Hire a U.S. Airline Accident Attorney?
In the wake of a U.S. airline accident, victims are often anxious with uncertainty: Where can you go for answers and support? Who can you trust?
The airline will have set up a family care team to act as a liaison for affected families. While the airline's family care team likely has the best of intentions to help victims, it still takes orders from the airline, which could prove to be liable for these accidents, down the road.
Airline family care teams are also not likely to discuss legal options with victims, so victims often don't have a broad understanding of their choices and legal rights. This is where having an experienced aviation attorney to advocate on your behalf can make all the difference.
Pursuing a U.S. Airline Accident Case
If you need assistance pursuing a U.S. airline accident claim, it is in your best interest to speak with a Baum Hedlund airline accident attorney. We have decades of experience litigating high-profile personal injury and wrongful death cases after commercial U.S. airline accidents. Our firm will aggressively pursue full compensation on your behalf against the airline, manufacturer or negligent third party responsible for your injuries or loss.
Contact the plane crash attorneys at Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman to recover the compensation you deserve.
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*Our verdicts and settlements do not constitute a guarantee, warranty or prediction regarding the outcome of your case.