It can be difficult for injured passengers or mourning family members to know what to do in a plane crash’s aftermath. Air crash cases typically present a wide range of contributing causes to a crash. Factors as diverse as piloting, weather, air traffic control, maintenance procedures, avionics, airframe or engine design, or metal fatigue can all play a role.
With decades of aviation accident cases under their belts, the aviation accident lawyers at Mithoff Law are familiar with the complexities of airplane crash cases and have gained a reputation for our comprehensive investigative approach at the outset of any representation.
Learn more about what steps you can take in the aftermath of a plane crash, what resources may be available to you, and how an experienced and successful aviation accident law firm like Mithoff Law pursues these cases.
Do plane crash survivors get compensation?
Throughout a plane crash’s aftermath, many victims and their families wonder if the airline will provide financial compensation for their injuries and losses.
Under certain circumstances, due to various treaties and laws governing international and domestic air transport, commercial airlines are required to pay airplane crash victims or surviving family members a certain amount of compensation (separate from damages sought in plane crash lawsuit settlements). The amount of compensation that may be owed depends upon several factors, and the experienced aviation attorneys at Mithoff Law can help you navigate the regulatory framework that governs air crash disasters.
Depending on the circumstances of the accident and the liability of the airline, crash victims may wish to seek additional aviation accident compensation. It is this type of compensation that airplane crash attorneys can help their clients pursue.
Mithoff Law’s experience representing those affected by air crashes spans a wide range of scenarios, from commercial aviation to private fixed-wing aviation. As helicopter accident lawyers, we also represent clients affected by commercial helicopter operations (including offshore operations).
How Mithoff Law helped the family of Air France flight 447 victims
Mithoff Law represented the surviving family members of the only Americans aboard Air France flight 447, which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean while flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. As with many air crashes, Mithoff Law was retained before the investigating authority had issued a final report (in that case, France’s Civil Aviation Authority, the “BEA”).
Mithoff Law began assembling its own team of experts, in fields ranging from accident reconstruction to piloting and avionics, to initiate its own investigation into the crash. The case also involved questions of jurisdiction unique to international air crash cases (specifically, whether the Montreal Convention permitted U.S. citizens to bring their claims in a U.S. court for a commercial air crash that did not involve a flight to or from a U.S. airport). Mithoff Law was able to resolve the claims of its clients before France’s BEA issued its Final Report into the crash.
How long does it take to investigate a plane crash?
Every plane crash is different, and the investigation of each accident involves a wide array of technical specialties. It may take substantial time for a governmental investigating agency such as the National Transportation Safety Board to issue its findings.
Accordingly, the team at Mithoff Law wastes no time assembling its own investigative team to pursue all available evidence, conducting its own thorough, independent investigation into air crashes to ensure that responsible parties are identified and held accountable.
Resources and information for families of plane accident victims
If you have recently lost a loved one in an airplane accident, you will want to become familiar with several federal agencies that are responsible for ensuring safe air travel. While these organizations tend to move slowly and cannot represent your interests, in personal injury or wrongful death aviation accident cases they can act as resources for clients during this time.
- Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): The FAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT). The FAA issues and suspends certificates for pilots, aircraft, plans airports, manages air traffic control, and more. It also handles safety recommendations made by the NTSB.
- National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB): The NTSB operates independently from the DoT and is responsible for investigating and determining probable cause for civil aviation accidents. They are responsible for assigning an Investigator-In-Charge (IIC) to each accident, publishing reports on their site, making safety recommendations based on their findings. The NTSB partners with the American Red Cross for providing temporary mental-health support to victims and their families. A more in-depth overview of NTSB services can be found in their most recent brochure.
- Transportation Disaster Assistance (TDA): The TDA is a division of the NTSB that works with federal to local agencies to provide support to accident victims and their families. Services include establishing free counseling (if recommended/requested), facilitating translation, and providing updates.
Meanwhile, airlines are required by NTSB and TDA to provide additional assistance to the families of crash victims. These include but are not limited to notifying family members before releasing passenger names to the media, offering American Red Cross assistance, and providing a contact person to help with logistical needs for traveling to the incident site.
During a plane crash’s aftermath, airlines must also develop a means for handling the personal effects of passengers (not being held for evidence) and returning them to victims’ families, provide the media with updates, and provide logistical support for the local and federal staff, the Disaster Operational Response Team (DMORT), and medical examiner.
Plane crash disasters beyond the courtroom
Mithoff Law’s high-profile aviation cases often continue to shape, influence, and inform the aviation industry long after a trial has been won or a settlement has been negotiated. For example, the firm’s experience in the Air France 447 case was recently highlighted by the Houston Chronicle, in connection with a news report looking into the issues affecting the Boeing 737-MAX series of aircraft.
Mithoff Law aviation attorneys Richard Mithoff and Warner Hocker were interviewed for the article and asked questions regarding parallels between the publicly available findings of the BEA Report regarding the crash of Air France 447 and the automated flight control system issues recently affecting Boeing’s 737-MAX aircraft.
“Boeing… had the benefit of everything that should have been learned from Air France,” Mithoff stated, adding that “Boeing has to be measured against what the world of engineering, of avionics, should have known by the time they were pushing this (Max) design.”
These concerns were shared by Captain Sully Sullenberger, captain of the U.S. Airways “Miracle on the Hudson” flight in 2009, who said: “The global aviation industry has not effectively applied what we have learned from the crash of Air France 447 . . . Had they done so, the 737 Max crashes might have been avoided.”
Aviation attorney Hocker also saw similarities between the findings of France’s Civil Aviation Authority regarding crew training and the recent developments with Boeing. “Training goes a long way in addressing a lot of these recurring issues,” he noted.
Don’t struggle through the aftermath of a plane crash alone. Contact Mithoff Law.
Wading through a plane crash’s aftermath is overwhelming. The attorneys at Mithoff Law draw on our extensive experience in the field and our professional relationship with a wide range of subject-matter experts to ensure that their clients’ interests are actively represented.
While we are known for being Houston airplane accident attorneys, we have successfully investigated cases and pursued claims for clients from all over Texas.
Request a consultation with one of the top airplane crash lawyers in Houston. Call 713-654-1122 today.
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