The United States Armed Forces have the most technologically advanced aircraft in the world. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces risk their lives daily as they operate aircraft in extreme environments, dramatically increasing the probability of experiencing an aerial accident.
Under no circumstances should our armed forces run a risk from mechanical failures (caused by defective manufacturing parts or design) or negligent aircraft maintenance carried out by civilian contractors. Every year, however, the U.S. Armed Forces experience numerous fatal military aviation crashes with leading causes involving defective manufacturing parts and design.
Legal Rights After Military Aviation Crashes
Many members of the armed forces believe that their legal rights are limited when it comes to sustaining an injury after a military aviation crash. This fear is due to the existence of a law known as the Feres Doctrine, which prohibits service members and their families from filing a lawsuit against the U.S. government in the event of being killed or injured aboard a military airplane.
Luckily, a few exceptions allow members of the armed forces and their families to file a lawsuit and seek monetary compensation. These include sustaining an injury or death from a defective component in civil and military planes and negligence from an external source other than the government. For instance, airplane manufacturers and privately owned maintenance facilities can be held liable for a military aviation crash that resulted from negligent maintenance or a defective aircraft component. A lawsuit may also be filed if there was negligence on behalf of civilian air traffic controllers.
Legal Options for Civilians Injured by Military Aviation Crashes
Civilians killed or injured by a military aviation crash and their families have the right to file a lawsuit against the military. In this case, a lawsuit would be filed against the U.S. government for negligence. Even though these types of aviation accidents do not frequently happen, sometimes military aircraft crash into homes or collide midair with a civilian airplane.
For instance, on July 7, 2015, an F16 fighter jet crashed midair with a Cessna in South Carolina, resulting in the death of two passengers aboard the civilian aircraft. An initial investigation conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NSTB) found that air traffic controllers had warned the pilot of the fighter jet of the nearby presence of the Cessna and had instructed them to avoid the plane right before the accident.
How Often Do Military Planes Crash?
Data recorded by Helihub shows that 133 helicopter crashes left 420 people dead during a recent year. Of the total number, 50 accidents and 246 deaths happened in a military helicopter crash, on U.S. soil, and in war zones. It is important to note that numerous military plane crashes in war zones go unreported, and as a result, data can be higher than the figures recorded.
Causes of Military Aviation Crashes?
As in many aviation accidents, it is crucial to identify the leading causes to hold the parties liable. No matter which location the accident occurs, a lawsuit can be filed on behalf of a victim if the party responsible is subject to U.S. laws through our judicial system. Some of the factors that contribute to military aviation crashes include:
- Pilot error
- Manufacturing defects
- Negligent Maintenance
- Air traffic controller error
Who Investigates Military Plane Crashes?
As is the case in most aviation accidents, military plane crashes are characterized by very complex litigation that requires in-depth investigations. U.S. laws severely limit how and when these cases can be filed. The National Transportation Safety Board (NSTB) has jurisdiction over the investigations of most airplane accidents. In addition, each military branch has jurisdiction for investigating cases involving their service members.
At Wilshire Law Firm, we have years of experience in aviation law. Our Senior Aviation Attorney, A. Ilyas Akbari, has investigated some of the most complex and high-profile airplane accidents worldwide, including military plane crashes. Our lawyers understand the complexities and limitations surrounding these types of cases and are fully committed to providing our clients with excellent legal services to reach a settlement on their behalf. If you need immediate assistance or a free consultation from our leading aviation attorneys, contact us at 1(800)52-CRASH.
Examples of Military Aviation Crashes Handled by Lawyers of the Wilshire Law Firm:
Marine Corps KC-130T plane Crash in Leflore County, Mississippi:
On July 10, 2017, a Marine Corps KC-130T crashed in a soybean field between Itta Bena and Moorhead after experiencing a mechanical failure.
The accident resulted in the death of 15 Marines and one Navy Corpsman. Our lawyers represented the family members of 10 of the Marines that died due to the accident.
The KC-130T plane crash has been categorized as one of the deadliest disasters involving the Marine Corps in the past ten years.
Kiowa Warrior OH-58D Military Helicopter Crash, Kandahar, Afghanistan:
On March 16, 2013, the military helicopter crashed after experiencing a mechanical malfunction that resulted in the death of one pilot and severely injuring the other.
An investigation into the matter concluded that a failure in the engine control unit (ECU) from the Full Authority Digital Electronic Control (FADEC), which controls fuel to a turbine engine, was the leading cause of the crash. The failed component reduced fuel flow to the engine, which led the main rotor to speed too slowly for the plane to remain in the air.
Our lawyers represented the families of the two Army servicemen affected in the accident. We argued that the design and make of the ECU located inside the FADEC were defective. Since FADEC’s are used in both military and civil planes, our lawyers believe that the manufacturing companies (Triumph Group, Inc., Goodrich Pump and Engine Control Systems Inc.) were negligent and that the manufacturers were aware of the defective components and failed to notify authorities.
AH-6M “Little Bird” Military Helicopter Crash, Fort Benning, Georgia:
On August 8, 2011, an AH-6M “Little Bird” crashed during a routine military helicopter training exercise after experiencing a mechanical failure on its Full Authority Engine Control (FADEC). The accident resulted in the death of Chief Warrant Officer Steven Redd and Captain David Hortman.
According to the lawsuit, both pilots could not regain control of the aircraft even after performing prescribed emergency procedures. Our lawyers identified manufacturers Goodrich Corporation, Goodrich Pump and Engine Controls, Rolls-Royce of North America, Inc., Allison Engine Company, Boeing Company, and M.D. Helicopters as the liable parties.
They argued that the manufacturers provided an aircraft with a defective engine, fuel control system, and flight components. Wilshire Law Firm filed the lawsuit on behalf of the family of Steven Redd.