Aircraft Accidents and Litigation




S                                                                                                            AN DIEGO AVIATION LAWYER

The FAA and NTSB Aircraft Accident Investigations do not determine who was at fault, they  only determine “probable cause”, and whether the Investigator believes there was a violation of the Federal Aviation Regulations.  When the damage and/or injuries are serious, the injured party needs a competent Aviation Lawyer to assure adequate compensation for their losses.   l

Liability Insurance policy limits are often inadequate to compensate the injured persons for their damages. Adequate compensation for Aircraft Accident victims may only be assured by a competent, knowledgeable Aviation Attorney.

Listed below are but a few of the Aircraft Accident cases we have handled as  Aviation Attorney:


Defective Galley Cart Lift Boeing 747 Airliner

United Airlines Flight Attendant was injured when a Boeing 747 meal cart lift malfunctioned causing serious injuries and disfigurement to her head, face, and shoulders.  The Airline only offered Worker’s Compensation.  Settlement:  Flight Attendant settled during trial for $2.5 million plus medical expenses.

General Aviation Aircraft Accident, Mid-Air Collision

Two airplanes collided in Class D Airspace.  Three fatalities.  Both aircraft were in communication with  FAA Air Traffic Control Tower.  FAA claims the pilots had failed to exercise vigilance under the “see and be seen” rule, and that Air Traffic Controllers have no responsibility to notify pilots of potential hazards.   Our Client, the mother of deceased CFI, claims Controller Negligence.   Settlement:  FAA pays $1.5 million to heirs of CFI and Student, other pilot’s insurance pays $1million.

 General Aviation Helicopter Accident

  Insurance Company refused to pay the $1 million Accidental Death Policy when Husband was killed in a sight-seeing helicopter crash.  Insurance Company used the excuse that the flight was “not a regularly-scheduled common carrier” flight as required by Policy language.   Judgment:  The helicopter sightseeing flight met the policy definition of “regularly scheduled common carrier”.  Payment to widow:  Policy Limits of  $1 million.

Helicopter v. Corporate Jet, Taxi Accident

Gulfstream IV taxied into the turning rotor of a Bell 206.  Rotor sliced off the G-IV’s winglet and substantial damage to the helicopter. G-IV owner claimed it had the Right-of-Way, and that Hel;icopter’s Rotor was not turning when G-IV made it’s turn, but started up just before contact.   Settlement:  $200,000 to Helicopter owner.

Early Gear Retraction Accident on Rental Aircraft

Renter pilot retracted landing gear before liftoff. Aircraft settled back onto runway causing structural damage, prop strike, and loss of use during repairs. Settlement:  for our client the aircraft owner $14,400.

Fuel Starvation Accident

First test flight of helicopter after maintenance.  Mechanic told pilot helicopter was fueled.  Engine failed at 200 feet due to fuel starvation.  Client had to auto-rotate helicopter to ground, impact caused structural damage.  FAA wanted to suspend/revoke pilot certificate.  Settlement:  “No Action” against our pilot client.

Insurance Coverage Denied in Fatal Aircraft Accident

Retired Airline Pilot bought used light twin, purchased full insurance coverage.  Airplane crashed after takeoff from Tijuana, Mexico killing pilot, passenger, and innocent bystander on ground.  Insurance Company cited clause in policy requiring annual Instrument Checkout in Make and Model to be conducted by a Flight Instructor “approved” by Insurance Company.  Pilot’s Instrument Checkout was in a different Make and Model, by a CFI, not specifically “approved” by insurance company.  Coverage was denied.  Settlement:  Liability coverage limit of $100,000 to mother of passenger and widow of pilot.

2 thoughts on “Aircraft Accidents and Litigation

  • June 9, 2013 at 12:14 am

    I owned my own aviation insurance agency for 30 years and have to say that the insurance companies I dealt with always tried to settle rather than litigate.

    However, I always advised the client to get the advice of a good aviation law attorney before any settlement in order to make sure their rights were protected. Most of the aviation attorneys I dealt with were pilots and very competent.

    I have a page about aviation law on my website at

  • July 9, 2013 at 3:58 am

    Sounds like good advice. Insurance companies will always try to either deny or settle. A competent Aviation Attorney can protect your rights. He is on your side.

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