Airplane Accidents in New Mexico

For obvious reasons, aviation accidents are extremely devastating and can result in many lives lost and a large amount of property damage. Fortunately, they are not frequent occurrences in New Mexico, but when they do happen, those affected must ensure that they receive the support they need.

There are several different types of aviation accidents that can occur. Although most people immediately think of an incident involving a large commercial airliner, accidents may happen in any sort of aircraft. Therefore, an aviation accident may be classified based on the type of aircraft that were involved. Potential aircraft include:

  • Fixed wing aircraft (both commercial jets and small private airplanes)

  • Helicopters

  • Aircraft built from a kit or experimental aircraft

  • Aircraft used for tours or charter aircraft

  • Aircraft used for medical evacuation

Accidents may also be classified based on the actual event itself. In this case, the categories include such classifications as:

  • Accidents occurring during takeoff, such as an improper taxi or failure to prepare the aircraft adequately for flight

  • Accidents occurring as a result of a bird strike that interferes with the operation of the aircraft

  • Equipment failure

  • Accumulation of ice on the frame of the aircraft that hinders proper flight control

  • Accidents occurring during landing including failure of the landing gear to deploy or properly support the aircraft

The type of accident will determine the personnel involved in the investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is typically the agency tasked with investigating an aircraft crash. For a major incident, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will also assist. For major airline incidents, the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act of 1996 outlines the responsibilities of both the NTSB and the involved airline.

Cause of an Airplane Accident

Before anyone can justly be blamed for an aviation accident, investigators must determine the cause. Typically the cause of the accident can be traced back to one or possible more than one of the following:

  • Defective equipment or defective aircraft design

  • Pilot error

  • Air traffic controller error

  • Improper maintenance or faulty repair of the aircraft

  • Problems with fuel

Legal Action in Airplane Accidents

Once a cause is determined, victims and families must decide whether to pursue legal action. The particular claim will depend on the nature of the cause.

  • Product liability claims are generally made when the accident was caused by a faulty aircraft design or defective equipment.

  • Accidents due to pilot or other human error typically result in a claim of negligence.

  • The Federal Tort Claims Act comes into play when the accident is the fault of an employee of the federal government, such as a Federal Aviation Agency air traffic controller.

The Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act prevents attorneys from directly contacting family members in the days following the incident. Therefore, families must be alert to recognize the need for legal action and seek out a lawyer qualified to handle their case.

Leave a comment