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How Plane Crash Survivors Are Compensated In California

Updated: Sep 15, 2022

A Guide To Aviation Accident Claims In California

Passengers are more likely to be involved in a plane accident as air traffic grows. Air travel is generally regarded as a safe mode of transportation. However, aviation accidents frequently result in fatalities or catastrophic injuries.

That said, let's go over the typical concerns and processes a California Plane Crash Attorney helps their clients with.

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What Causes Aviation Accidents?

Both large air carriers and general aviation incidents are covered by aviation accident law. All non-commercial aircraft are classified as general aviation, including small planes, large business jets, charter flights, pleasure crafts, helicopters, and hang gliders.

The following are the most typical causes of large carrier and general aviation accidents:

  • Pilot error

  • Defective aviation equipment

  • Regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration have been broken

  • Problems with the structure or design of the plane or equipment

  • Employees, staff, and flight service attendants were negligent

  • Federal Air Traffic Controllers' Negligence

  • Negligence in the carrier selection by a third party

Finding the person (or multiple persons) at fault is the first step to filing claims after an airplane accident. If you don't know how to identify the defendant in a plane crash, contact a California Attorney For Personal Injury to help sort your claims.

Which Agencies Handle Aviation Concerns?

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aircraft Administration (FAA) are two federal agencies that govern air travel and examine every commercial and private aviation accident in the United States (FAA).

The FAA establishes safety standards for pilots, flight operations, and aircraft manufacturers and enforces those requirements through civil and criminal penalties. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is in charge of examining all civil aviation accidents and recommending safety standards to prevent future mishaps.

Aviation Accident Personal Injury Claims

If you and your Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer decide to file a lawsuit following an aircraft accident, the persons who may be held liable (legally responsible) differ based on the cause of the accident. In some cases, the owner and operator of an aircraft may be held accountable; in other cases, manufacturers or maintenance providers may be held liable; and in some cases, even the federal government may be held responsible for an aviation accident.

Aviation law is complicated, and numerous theories of liability can be used under state, federal, and international law. As a result, there are various prospective defendants to pick from and a variety of courts in which to hold a trial.

The injured individual must show that the person responsible failed to meet an industry standard linked to the operation of the aircraft, engineering, or specific regulatory issues in order to hold them legally accountable for an aviation disaster.

While each aviation accident is unique, claims for personal injury or death as a result of an aircraft accident are often governed by the legal doctrines of negligence, product responsibility, or a mix of the two. Furthermore, because two federal agencies govern air travel, federal rules and regulations may have an impact on a personal injury claim or the standard of care owed to an aviation accident victim.

What Is Negligence?

Negligence is the legal word for failing to do (or not doing) something that a reasonable person would do in the same situation to protect others from foreseeable harm. For example, pilots, airline maintenance suppliers, and big airlines are all liable to negligence claims when an aircraft accident happens.

Product Liability

The legal duty imposed on producers and marketers of defective products is known as "product liability." If it can be proven that a defective product caused an aviation accident, product liability may allow the maker or seller of the defective product to be held liable.

Owner or Operator Liability

When it comes to the legal "duty of care" due to others, aircraft owners and operators are held to high standards. If the owner's negligence or recklessness is shown, the owner will be held accountable for the losses suffered by harmed parties, including passengers, on-the-ground workers, and even the pilot.

Even if the owner was not flying the plane at the time of the accident, they might be found guilty under a legal doctrine known as vicarious liability. This approach is comparable to how, in some circumstances, employers may be held legally liable for their employees' acts.

Commercial Flights

Commercial airlines are classified as "common carriers" under the law since they advertise themselves to the public as eager to transport any passenger who purchases a ticket. Common carriers are held to different (and frequently stricter) criteria than private carriers.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the primary federal agency in charge of regulating air carriers, enforcing consistent standards and operating procedures, and overseeing a carrier's internal standards. Therefore, to be successful in filing an aircraft accident claim against a common carrier such as a commercial airline, you must thoroughly understand the complicated FAA rules and regulations.

Manufacturer's Liability

Under a legal doctrine known as "strict liability," an aircraft manufacturer can be held accountable if an accident victim can prove that a flaw in the product (the aircraft) or a component part caused their injuries. However, it's crucial to keep in mind that liability laws vary by state. (Learn more about product liability in aviation cases.)

Owner/Operator and Manufacturer Liability - Comparative Fault

In many circumstances, an aircraft accident can be blamed on both the pilot and the manufacturer. This generates a legal difficulty known as "comparative blame," which requires the judge or jury to decide the amount percentage of responsibility attributable to each defendant during the trial.

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Only a few states prohibit a pilot from recovering damages from a manufacturer if the pilot's negligence contributed to the crash; most states employ comparative fault to divide blame between the two parties.

Possible Compensation For Aviation Accident Injuries In California

In a personal injury suit originating from an aviation accident, common categories of recoverable damages include:

  1. Expenses for medical treatment in the past and the future;

  2. Wages and earning ability that have been lost.

  3. Pain and suffering in the past and the future;

  4. Emotional Distress damages;

  5. Loss of association/consortium (typically only available to married couples);

  6. Damages for retaliation

What damages can be recovered and what proof is required for each category will vary by jurisdiction. Many states additionally have "limits" on particular types of damages, restricting the amount of money that can be recovered.

An expert Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney can assist you in determining the best jurisdiction for your case and properly presenting your damages to ensure that you are adequately reimbursed for your injuries.

Catastrophic Injuries In Aviation Accidents

Serious accidents often result in catastrophic injuries that alter a person's life forever. Because it affects their ability to perform in daily tasks, this could result in a significant reduction in their quality of life.

These injuries are not only harmful to the person, but they also have severe ramifications for the victim's family. They may have to care for their loved ones for a long time while also dealing with their own anguish. As a result, the family's financial situation may be jeopardized.

Furthermore, because catastrophic injuries inflict far more pain and suffering than lesser injuries, the claimant is entitled to significantly more compensation.

What Is "Catastrophic Injury" and How Is It Defined?

In layman's words, a "catastrophic" injury is one that severely limits your ability to live the life you had before the event. Six situations are commonly referred to as "catastrophic":

  1. Amputations. Furthermore, for persons who have lost limbs, accidents usually demand extensive healing and rehabilitation. Even though prosthetic technology has advanced dramatically in recent years, the adjustment period is quite challenging. Infections, Phantom Pain Syndrome, and psychological distress can all develop from an amputation.

  2. Loss of vision. Working in potentially hazardous locations or engaging in potentially dangerous activities can impair a person's vision. Traumatic head injuries, automobile accidents, acts of aggressiveness, and chemical exposure are only a few of the additional causes of partial or complete vision loss.

  3. Hearing loss. Hearing loss affects many people who work in noisy situations such as factories, construction sites, and assembly plants. Although wearing ear protection all of the time may assist, some exceptionally loud sounds can cause partial or complete hearing loss. In addition, a severe head injury can also cause hearing loss.

  4. Spinal cord injuries. The spinal cord is a thick bundle of nerves that connects the brain to the rest of the body via the spine. The spinal cord is one of the most essential parts of the body, but it is incapable of self-healing. As a result, any damage to the spinal cord is irreversible, and it can result in loss of feeling, loss of function, or a combination of both.

  5. Trauma to the brain. A forceful blow to the head, hypoxia, or chemical exposure can all cause brain injury. Because the brain controls all of the body's functions, any damage to the brain will most likely have consequences throughout the body. This can have an impact on cognition, memory, and even the ability to do daily tasks.

  6. Internal Organs. If a person's internal organs are badly injured, they may be able to submit a claim to recover the costs of treating or managing the resulting permanent illness.

  7. Accidents that result in death. The surviving family or estate representative can bring a wrongful death claim instead of a personal injury claim if a catastrophic injury results in death.

It's crucial to note that, even though you or a loved one suffered a life-altering injury, the defendant's insurance provider or lawyer may try to minimize your or your loved one's suffering. As a result, you should get legal counsel from an expert California Personal Injury Attorney to maximize your chances of recovering the losses you sustained in the form of compensation.

Catastrophic injuries can be common for devastating accidents like plane crashes. So you'll need all the financial and emotional relief you need.

Brain and spinal cord injuries are the most common.

Brain and spinal cord injuries are the most lethal and severe types of catastrophic injuries. Even with a minor injury to either of these essential body parts, the person may have immediate difficulties and irreparable consequences.

Injury to the brain and spinal cord is usually irreparable due to the sluggish recovery of nerves in the spinal cord and neurons in the brain. Some of the long-term repercussions of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) include:

  1. Speech impediments

  2. Memory lapses

  3. Disabilities in learning and development

  4. Anxiety, distress, and emotional instability

  5. Biological activities that are no longer within your control

  6. Deafness, blindness, or other sensory impairments

Permanent paralysis can result from damage to the spinal cord, which can be partial or whole. Due to the nerves and spinal discs sequence, a spinal cord injury sufferer will have more severe paralysis depending on how far up the lesion occurred. Quadriplegia or full-body paralysis could arise from a trauma to the head of the spinal cord, for example.

Catastrophic Injuries' Immediate And Long-Term Effects

Catastrophic injury has immediate, long-term, and often long-term consequences for the person and close family members. Traumatic brain injury (TBI), severe spinal cord damage (SCI), burns, and other catastrophic injuries need victims to adjust to significant changes in their lives.

Our Catastrophic Injury Lawyers in California understand the devastating effects that these injuries and losses may have on victims and their families.

Some of the challenges that a typical victim and family will confront are as follows:

  • Health-care costs. This could include expenses such as hospital bills, routine doctor visits, physical and occupational therapy, medical equipment, in-home care, and other fees. Additionally, if the injury is permanent, the victim and family must budget for significant annual out-of-pocket expenses.

  • Earnings or income losses. The victim's ability to maintain their current employment will almost probably be lost, and they may not be able to work at all. In addition, a close family member will frequently stop working in order to provide care.

  • Pain and Suffering. Any type of severe damage can cause physical discomfort, including paralysis, which has a plethora of unpleasant side effects. In addition, the person may experience emotional misery and suffering as a result of the occurrence's trauma and the losses that follow. The sadness and sorrow affect the entire family.

  • Quality of living or life deteriorates. Disabilities can put a person's career, social standing, family relationships, and other parts of their lives on hold. For example, a severely wounded person's ability to help around the house and provide emotional support may be compromised. In addition, a parent may be unable to care for a child, and a spouse may be unable to provide the same amount of affection and companionship to their partner.

While all types of accidents have the same set of outcomes, catastrophic injuries are particularly devastating. Furthermore, it is impossible to recover from a catastrophic injury.

Having a Personal Injury Lawyer in Los Angeles can help you get the compensation to relieve some of the struggles you'll face. While monetary recompense doesn't address an irreversible disability or a life loss, the money could be used to get the victim and their loved ones back to the life they once had before the accident happened.

Compensation and Damages for Catastrophic Injuries in California

The jury evaluates the number of damages incurred by the plaintiff to determine the claim's worth. With enough evidence, for example:

  • Paystubs and other employment documents

  • Invoices

  • Billings

  • Receipts

Economic losses, such as lost pay from time away from work, property damage, and medical bills, are simple to establish. At the same time, you and your family focus on recuperation, and a skilled Los Angeles County Personal Injury Lawyer will know how to perform their own investigations and obtain the proof you require.

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Non-economic losses, on the other hand, are more difficult to quantify.

The total amount of pain and suffering damages awarded by a jury is usually determined by the severity of the plaintiff's injuries. A plaintiff who spent a certain amount of money on medical costs to treat a catastrophic injury, for example, may be required to recover for several years or longer. The jury is likely to award much more in pain and suffering damages since the plaintiff is likely to be in unremitting misery, discomfort, and loss of range of motion throughout that time.

While there are no specific rules or guidelines for calculating these damages, it is commonly observed that pain and suffering damages are worth several times more than the plaintiff's alleged medical expenses.

In some cases, calculating the plaintiff's economic damages is more complicated. For instance, the jury will evaluate whether the plaintiff may need multiple recovery procedures in the future, such as:

  • Medical needs

  • Physical therapy (even for future costs)

  • Rehabilitation

  • Or any other type of long-term medical intervention

Calculating the Value of Future Earnings That Have Been Lost

Unless the injured person can effectively testify as to what they would have earned, an economist or employment and pay expert will be recruited to calculate a fair but equivalent calculation of their earnings.

This way of computation takes into account a number of factors, including:

  • the victim's earnings at the time of the incident

  • their chances of promotion

  • Around the time of the event, their life expectancy

  • economic trends in general

  • The profession of the injured party and its future promise

If the harm is severe enough that the injured party is unable to pursue their desired vocation, they are also entitled to compensation. The level of payable damages should reflect the amount that would have been earned, minus the amount that the injured party will receive from any new occupation—if that is even a possibility.

As previously stated, expert witness testimony from an economist will be necessary to prove how much would have been made. Some factors are considered when deciding whether or not an injured person should pursue a profession or position in a particular industry.

Witnesses (close relatives and friends) who are familiar with the wounded plaintiff's plans and how far they have progressed in fulfilling those plans are essential. It doesn't matter if the victim was working on commission or prepping for a pop-up sale, as long as there's evidence of lost profits.

If you have more severe injuries or are still suffering from the effects, it is strongly advised that you reject an insurance company's settlement offer. Instead, select a Los Angeles, CA Personal Injury Lawyer who will fight for your rights in the case.

When There Is a Fatal Consequence: Wrongful Death

The death of a loved one is a traumatic event. It's challenging to live with the death of a family member as a result of someone else's negligence or carelessness. If this happens, however, the surviving family members have the ability to pursue a wrongful death claim.

Wrongful death happens when a person dies as a result of negligent, intentional, or wrongful acts or omissions. Such offenses include careless driving, assault or battery, death caused while committing a crime, vehicular manslaughter, manslaughter, or murder.

Catastrophic Injury and Wrongful Death Cases in California

Following a catastrophic injury, the victim files a personal injury claim against the at-fault party in order to receive compensation. The following are examples of damages for which they may be eligible for compensation:

  • Medical expenses

  • Wages from the past and future have been lost.

  • Suffering and pain

The victim's survivors file a wrongful death lawsuit against the individual suspected of being responsible for the death, claiming damages for the following:

  • Medical expenses

  • Expenses associated with a funeral

  • Household earnings in the future that have been lost

  • Benefits that are lost

  • The loss of a connection, as well as the comfort and care that the deceased provided

The severity of the injuries determines the amount of compensation for catastrophic injuries. A catastrophic injury is severe by definition, and the resulting compensation could be significant. Furthermore, if the injured person will be incapacitated for the rest of their life, the settlement must reflect this.

An injured individual cannot rely on the at-fault party to make things right. Instead, as with medical malpractice, the injured individual may be confronted with defenses aimed at making them look to be at fault for their own injuries.

In a wrongful death case, the relatives of the injured victim would almost undoubtedly face strong opposition, especially if the at-fault party is a corporation.

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