According to the Aviation Safety Network, there were 12 commercial airplane crashes in 2014, which resulted in 761 deaths. Losing a loved one in an unfortunate airline accident is a horrific experience, and it is often made worse by the litigation that follows. If you are considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit after losing a family member, chances are you don't know where to begin and have several questions. Here are a some of the questions you may have concerning filing a wrongful death lawsuit:
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
When a loved one dies after being involved in an airline accident, one of the first questions you might have concerns the right to file a claim. Typically, the victim's spouse is the first individual who has the right to file a wrongful death claim. If there is no spouse, the victim's children have precedence. If the victim was single and childless, their other blood family members have the authority to file a claim.
If there are no family members, it is vital to contact an attorney to determine who can file a claim. For example, in some states, a victim's partner can file a claim if the victim was the sole money earner and the partner was financially dependent.
Who Is Liable in The Wrongful Death Case?
In many wrongful death cases, determining liability can be tricky. This is why there is always a lengthy investigation when an airplane crashes. In the case of a commercial domestic airline, the National Transportation Safety Board, NTSB, will perform the initial and primary investigation.
Typically, the defendant in the wrongful death lawsuit will be the airline itself, the airplane's manufacturer, the pilot, the pilot's flight school, the air traffic controller, the maintenance workers or the company that employs the maintenance workers.
It will be the job of your attorney to help determine who is actually at fault. It can become very complicated, especially if it is determined multiple parties were at fault. Due to the complex nature of wrongful death cases, it is vital that you work with a talented, seasoned attorney. This individual can help you through this lengthy and often confusing process.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Claim?
The statute of limitations to file a claim against the airline, the airplane's manufacturer or any of the above-mentioned potential defendants is dependent upon several factors. For example, if your loved one perished on a commercial domestic flight, the statute of limitation may depend upon where the ticket was purchased, where the flight originated from or the victim's home state.
If the flight was international, there are several other statutes of limitations that also come into play. Once again, this is a very complicated matter, which is why it is vital to contact a wrongful death attorney immediately. The statute of limitations could impact your ability to file a claim and seek compensation for your loved one's pain and suffering.
Are There Different Procedures Concerning Domestic and International Flights?
There are several different entities and procedures that govern how a domestic or international airline accident is investigated, and the amount of compensation a victim's family can recover. For example, all international flights are governed by an International Air Transport Association, IATA, agreement and an international treaty called the Warsaw and Montreal Conventions.
Basically, these two agreements set limits on how much compensation can be recovered by a victim's loved ones in the event of an airplane crash. These are also the two entities your attorney will need to contact prior to filing a wrongful death claim.
In the case of a domestic flight, your attorney must file a claim in the victim's home state, the state where the flight originated or even the site of the airline's home office. When it comes to compensation, there are no limits to how much compensation a victim's family can receive from whichever person or entity is held liable in the claim.
Losing a loved one in an airplane crash is a devastating experience for those left behind. If you are a family member of a victim, don't hesitate to contact an attorney immediately to discuss your next steps in filing a wrongful death claim.