• JC Serrano

All About Plane Crashes: Catastrophic Injuries and Wrongful Death

Updated: Jun 5

Find A California Personal Injury Attorney After A Plane Crash


Following a plane crash, the airline and its insurance providers would try to get you to sign agreements and settle claims as soon as possible. They are unconcerned about your well-being. Instead, they want to keep their earnings and reputation safe by avoiding lawsuits. You should not agree to a settlement without first consulting a Personal Injury Lawyer.


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Air travel is not only faster than road or rail travel, but it is also the safest. While aviation accidents are uncommon, when they do happen, they often result in severe injuries and, in the worst-case scenario, death. In addition, as compared to large or commercial flights, smaller planes are more prone to crashes. Airplane crash claims are challenging to navigate.

Although the accident location is important, the location of your lawsuit has a substantial impact on the amount of compensation you receive for your injuries. You can file a lawsuit in a U.S. court if you are injured in an airplane accident involving a domestic carrier. If the plane disaster occurred outside of the United States, you might be able to pursue legal action under international accords.


Catastrophic Injuries: A Definition


Pilots and passengers are the most common victims of plane crashes. However, there are other victims on occasion. If you work for an airline, attend an airshow as a spectator, or go about your daily activities in close proximity to a crashing plane, you may be injured in an airplane disaster. You are likely to suffer catastrophic, life-altering injuries whether you were inside or outside the plane.


Even if your injuries are small or manageable, they are nevertheless disturbances in your life that entitle you to full compensation if they were caused by someone else's negligence or misconduct. However, when injuries are so severe that they are best defined as "catastrophic," the pain, loss of bodily functions, mental stress, and impossibly enormous medical bills can overwhelm you.


In these cases, the injured party almost has no choice but to file a personal injury lawsuit in order to recover damages. However, even if your harm is severe and even permanent, the legal battle will not be easy. In fact, the large sums of money that such injuries entitle you to make at-fault parties and insurance companies even more eager not to pay a fair settlement, regardless of how clear the negligence that caused your injury is.

Catastrophic Personal Injuries: Common Types


Shattered bones, ruptured discs, amputation of limbs or other body parts, severely torn muscles and ligaments, and various degrees/kinds of paralysis are only a few of the conceivable personal injuries. Car accidents, big-rig accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, slip and fall mishaps, workplace injuries, watercraft accidents, injuries caused by defective or unsafe items, and more are all common causes of catastrophic injuries.


However, we'd like to concentrate on five of the most common forms of catastrophic injuries that occur in Los Angeles and throughout California. Consider one of our prescreened California Lawyers in your California Attorney Search.


Injuries from Burns


Unsafe working conditions, as well as the improper storage or disposal of hazardous chemicals, can result in serious burn injuries. The majority of burn injuries might have been avoided, but they happened because of people's or companies' careless conduct or inaction. Defective vehicle parts or other products can also result in painful, scarring burns.


Burns of the third degree or worse can cover huge areas of the victim's body, and no region of the body is safe from a potentially fatal burn. The intense agony is simply the beginning of the problems that serious burns create, both immediately and later. They can also cause deadly infections, internal organ failure, and limitations in limb movement. Reconstructive surgery is frequently required to fix facial or other deformities.


A severe burn can result in exorbitant medical costs, with first care alone costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Furthermore, many effects of severe burns do not manifest themselves for years.

Injuries to the brain


Every year in the United States, an estimated 100,000 major brain injuries or incidences of major brain trauma occur. However, it's difficult to estimate the actual number because many people with brain injuries don't realize it for months or years, and some never learn that brain trauma is the source of their ongoing bad symptoms.


That's why, following a car accident, a slip and fall incident, a sports concussion, or any other event in which the head is struck or pushed abruptly forward/backward, it's critical to receive a comprehensive medical examination. You should also keep track of your symptoms and return for a second exam if you believe something is amiss.

TBI (traumatic brain injury) is one of the most serious types of brain injury, and it's all too common among those who play contact sports and have many concussions. TBI affects roughly 1.5 million Americans, leaving 80,000 permanently crippled and claiming the lives of 50,000 people each year.

When your skull is suddenly smacked against a hard surface, a catastrophic brain injury can occur in one of two ways. The brain collides with the hard ridges of the skull or the bone of the skull fractures at spots. Blood arteries may burst in either case, allowing blood to stream into areas of the brain where it isn't supposed to be. Depending on which regions of the brain are affected, this bleeding can disrupt respiration, heart function, and more. The power of the blow might potentially tear or bruise some parts of your brain.


Injury to the spinal cord


Spinal cord injury is a serious concern when your neck or back are struck in a car accident or an unintentional fall, or when heavy lifting or repetitive motions at work stress these areas of your body. Automobile accidents cause four-ninths of spinal cord injuries, two-ninths from falls, another two-ninths from violent crimes, and the rest from diving mishaps, other sports accidents, and other causes. Construction workers, in particular, are at significant risk of spinal cord injury.


The most painful aspect of surviving a spinal cord injury, aside from the agony and limitations it causes, is knowing that your spine's damaged core nerves can never regrow or mend themselves. There are cases of temporary paralysis, but whether you will ever recover depends on the extent of the damage more than the type of treatment. As a result, there is no cure for this type of injury.

Damage to the spine, which is a key component of the body's central nervous system, prevents communication and sensation between the brain and other areas of the body. As a result, spinal degeneration can cause a slew of additional concerns, including cardiac, digestive, and urinary tract difficulties, as well as psychiatric disorders, respiratory troubles, and more.

Many people with spinal cord injuries become partially or completely paralyzed, either permanently or temporarily. A spinal cord injury can put a stop to your work, leave you bedridden or confined to a wheelchair for the majority of the day, and make it tough to overcome depression and maintain regular familial and social relationships. On the other side, significant technological advancements have occurred in the previous half-century, making it simpler to live a full and active life despite your impairment.

Brachial Plexus


The phrase "brachial plexus" refers to the state of injured nerves in the arms, shoulders, and chest. It's similar to spinal cord trauma in that it affects the signals that travel from your spine to your upper body. It is, however, a distinct catastrophic injury in and of itself.


The nerves in your upper body can be severely damaged if they are squeezed, ripped, pushed out of place, or stretched, resulting in painful, debilitating symptoms. Those who play football or other contact sports frequently refer to lesser kinds of brachial plexus as "stingers." The brachial plexus nerves can also be injured during childbirth. This condition can also be caused by inflammations, tumors, radiation treatment, or vehicle accident injuries.


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In the worst-case situation, an arm could be paralyzed or lose all sensation. In most cases, just one arm is afflicted. Other signs and symptoms include weak or non-functional muscles in your arms, shoulders, or hands, severe discomfort in your neck and other places, and stiffness in your joints.


The majority of people recover from brachial plexus, but some have long-term disabilities. During the healing process, nerves in your arms and shoulders will rebuild slowly, and muscles may degenerate due to lack of use. Nerve and/or muscle grafts may be beneficial, but they are costly and unpleasant procedures.


Vision Loss Following a Trauma


Vision loss is common among those who have had a big traumatic incident in their lives. Vision loss can be whole or partial, and it can be temporary or permanent. It usually happens when a patient is unconscious, but it can also happen when you are awake.


The most prevalent cause of eyesight loss is significant head trauma. Due to high degrees of discomfort and disorientation, people are sometimes unaware of how their eyesight has changed until they are tested and questioned. The exterior appearance of the eye, as well as its motions, will be observed during an eye exam.


Blurred vision, sensitivity to light and glare, difficulties reading, a limited attention span, memory lapses, seeing double, eyes that ache, severe headaches when reading or gazing at a computer screen for an extended period of time, loss of focus and visual field, and trouble making regular eye movements are all symptoms of post-traumatic vision loss.

Prism lenses, eye rehab therapy, and light treatment are all non-surgical options for correcting or treating post-traumatic vision loss. Eye muscle surgery may be performed in some circumstances, but because vision issues are usually caused by damage or stress to the brain, surgery is rarely the solution.

Airplane Accidents Pose Difficult Legal Issues


Airplane accident claims are complicated because they entail a plethora of state and federal restrictions, making it more difficult for you to obtain compensation. The Montreal Convention of 1999, for example, established a liability scheme that benefited victims and reduced their litigation time. It is not necessary to prove the carrier's wilful disregard in order to receive reimbursement under the terms of the agreement. Instead, the airline faces a maximum liability of $100,000 in damages.


Many other entities, in addition to carriers, could be held accountable for the accident. Typically, airplane accident suits involve multiple parties sharing culpability, which may result in a bigger settlement. Aerial accident lawsuits also necessitate lengthy investigations and oversight from several organizations. As a result, it necessitates a thorough understanding of all applicable state and federal legislation.

  • The FAA is in charge of enforcing aviation regulations. The department is also in charge of overseeing the production, operation, and repair of all types of aircraft in the United States.

  • The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is in charge of examining all airline crashes and making recommendations for modifications to aircraft safety protocols.

  • Accidents involving airplanes may be subject to state legislation as well.


The Laws of Negligence in California


When deciding personal injury claims in California, the state employs a "comparative negligence" methodology. Even if you are somewhat at fault, you can seek damages from the defendant under this system. You have the right to recover the portion of your loss for which the defendant is responsible, even if your share of fault is greater than 50%. For example, in a circumstance where the court judges your damages are $1,000,000.00, the jury concludes that you are 70% at fault. You have a right to $300,000 (30%) in damages from the defendant. The jury has sole authority in determining the percentage share of fault. As a result, it's a good idea to hire a Personal Injury Lawyer who has handled catastrophic injury cases before.


Any firm or airline that charges you to fly on its plane is considered a common carrier under California law. As a result, it owes you a responsibility of care and attention to ensure your safety. This is a higher standard than ordinary negligence, and it extends to the entire voyage, including boarding and disembarking from the plane. If you are a non-paying passenger on a flight for which you would otherwise pay a fee, the private firm or airline owes you a duty of due diligence and ordinary care, even if it does not owe you a duty of extreme caution.


The requirement of extreme caution extends to the airplane's maintenance and operation. The task of aircraft maintenance is not delegable, even when an independent contractor maintains the planes on behalf of the airline. By contracting an outside contractor, the airline will not be able to dodge responsibilities for airplane maintenance. As a result, the airline is still liable for the contractor's mistakes.

Defending Your Claim in an Airplane Accident


It might be extremely difficult to obtain genuine evidence from an airplane crash scene. Typically, there is no survivor to give an account of the accident, and the plane is so badly damaged that FAA investigators have a difficult time determining the cause. Fortunately, there is a legal doctrine known as "res ipsa loquitur" that can assist you in winning your case. It protects you when determining the specific cause of an aviation crash is difficult or impossible.

If your case fulfills the following criteria, the "res ipsa loquitur" principle presumes negligence:

  • Typically, such an accident does not occur without someone's negligence.

  • The defendant has complete control over the instrumentality or agency that caused the injury or accident.

  • Your voluntary contribution or behavior did not cause harm or accident.

In practically all aviation lawsuits, excluding those filed by pilots or co-pilots, there is a presumption of negligence. If another party, other than the pilot or their company, is at fault, you can sue for damages as a pilot or flight attendant. You cannot sue your employer, but if you can prove the supplier