Domestic Airline Crashes


Commercial air travel is considered one of the safest methods of transportation. Several factors that contribute to air travel safety are pilot training, crew resource management, aircraft maintenance, air traffic controller support, airport operation and maintenance, and aircraft manufacturing and design, all of which must be properly functioning to prevent accidents. Domestic airlines include for-profit air carriers, charter companies, and scheduled air carriers.

The laws surrounding these tragic events may be complex, and airlines often seek to limit their liability in these accidents. Therefore, it is crucial to have an experienced team representing your case.

What are some common causes of domestic airline accidents?

While the chances of being involved in a domestic airline accident are slim, commercial aircraft accidents still occur and can often result in catastrophic injuries or death. Causes of airline crashes can include:

  • Maintenance Negligence: Airlines have recently outsourced aircraft maintenance to third parties in the U.S. to benefit their bottom line. This practice has increased unnecessary risks posed to air travelers by lack of oversight and regulation during maintenance.
  • Manufacturing and Design Defects: Commercial planes and their components must be built with great precision to resist the stresses of air travel. When flying, systems must be designed to be operated by humans during all conditions such as high workload and stressful situations. When there is an error in aircraft design, airplane manufacturers are held at fault.
  • Flight Crew Negligence: Many times, crew negligence can lead to aircraft accidents. For example, when pilots are not well trained in operating the aircraft, the crew may fail to perform essential safety checks and complete duties, leading to in-flight injuries, runaway crashes, or mid-air plane crashes.
  • Corporate Negligence: Airlines often seek to undercut costs by conducting flights with minimum amounts of fuel or making unsafe landings to prevent delays or cancel flights, which can lead to disaster if a plane runs out. The undermining of maintenance and safety guidelines can also lead to potential airline accidents.

Experience and Results of Domestic Airline Accident Cases

Wilshire Law Firm's Aviation practice is led by Senior Partner Ilyas Akbari, a globally-renowned aviation attorney who is highly experienced in litigating U.S. airline accident claims. Mr. Akbari and his legal team have successfully litigated several cases involving all major airlines in the United States and other international airlines. Some of his most notorious cases include:

September 11 Litigation:  One of the nation's most significant events involving domestic airline carriers resulted in the deaths of dozens of passengers after four planes were hijacked. Akbari helped represent the families of many victims by filing a civil lawsuit after they rejected a settlement from the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which they argued was inadequate and failed to hold accountable those responsible for the lack of effective security procedures.

This lawsuit focused on United Airlines and American Airlines and security firms Huntleigh USA Corp. and Argenbright Security Inc. United Airlines and American Airlines hired both firms to provide security at the airports where the hijackers boarded the planes with weapons. After filing the required government claims, the port authorities of New York and New Jersey were also sued. As a result, the defendants were charged with negligence, reckless conduct, conscious disregard for the rights and safety of the victims, and failure to prevent the crashes.

Colgan Air Flight 3407 Crash: Ilyas Akbari was also part of the team hired to represent a wrongful death case caused by the February 12, 2009 crash of Flight 3407. During this case, attorneys argued that the aircraft flew into icy conditions despite lacking essential de-icing equipment. An investigation concluded that the defective aircraft design was the lead factor in causing the airline accident, which resulted in the death of 50 people after the plane crashed into a house near Buffalo, New York.

Southwest Airlines Flight 1248 Crash: On December 8, 2005, Flight 1248 was en route to Chicago's Midway Airport after successfully taking off from Baltimore. Unfortunately, the flight experienced a snowstorm delay after half an hour and was forced to attempt an emergency landing on a runaway that would prove to be too small. Due to the size of the runway, the plane could not make a complete stop, and it crashed through the airport barrier, killing a young child in a parked car after completely stopping on South Central Ave. Six injured passengers were represented in this case.

Air Midwest Flight 5481 Crash: On January 8, 2003, Air Midwest Flight 5481 crashed soon after taking off from Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. The airplane in use, a Raytheon Beechcraft, was severely destroyed by the impact force and fire that ensued after crashing with a nearby building. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that Air Midwest's inadequate maintenance and procedures, excess weight carried by the plane, and improper rigging placed on the elevator system were critical factors that led to the crash. As a result, twenty-one people lost their lives.

Ilyas Akbari was part of the team that helped represent the families of two of the airplane crash victims. Air Midwest Airlines provided the maintenance for the aircraft, thus making it responsible for the crash. The settlement resulted in the first public apology by an airline. Air Midwest Airline acknowledged that the inadequate maintenance provided to the aircraft was the primary factor that contributed to the crash.

Why Hire Us?

We understand that the physical health, mental wellbeing, or life of a loved one cannot be replaced with any amount of money. However, we can achieve justice and remuneration for our clients and accountability for the liable parties in a domestic airline accident. The cases we handle are managed by our experienced team, who provide immediate help with urgent matters, organize and conduct in-depth investigations, protect our clients' rights, and obtain full and just compensation.

Airline accidents can often result in uncertainty for victims in need of answers, support, and trust. Even though airlines set up family care teams to protect and act as liaisons for the victims and their families, they ultimately take orders from the airlines, which can be proved liable for the accidents themselves. Many victims and their families are unaware of their legal options, as family care teams fail to discuss the many choices and legal rights they are entitled to receive. As a result, a highly reputable and experienced aviation attorney like Mr. Akbari and his team can help you navigate through the stresses of a legal case and successfully represent you.

When you reach out to Wilshire Law Firm, you can be assured that you are receiving help from some of the best aviation attorneys in the country. Senior Partner Ilyas Akbari is the Plaintiffs' Vice-Chair to the Aviation and Space Law Committee of the American Bar Association. He is also the Editor of the Aviation and Space Law Committee Newsletter for 2020 and is well-known and respected by his peers and lawyers for the airlines, aircraft manufacturers, and insurance companies.

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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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