It’s a tragic moment when air travelers suffer from accidents during a flight, but when people on the ground and in their homes become victims, the disaster can reach new levels. These accidents are far more common than most people realize, and federal regulations seem to undermine both the severity and frequency of these incidents. The emotional, physical and financial consequences of a plane crashing into a house can impact both passengers and residents alike.
Whether you are an airplane passenger or a ground victim navigating through the legal options is very complex, as identifying the responsible parties can be difficult. Whether or not the pilot is a victim, a passenger, or a person on the ground, Our legal team can help you navigate the complexities of the investigation and litigation process in the event of sustaining an injury or a death by a loved one after a plane crashes into a house.
How Often Do Planes Crash Into Houses?
Even though airplane accidents are relatively uncommon, hundreds of accidents do occur every year. Data shows that while incidents involving large commercial airplanes have continued to decrease over the years, accidents involving small planes or general aviation aircraft have remained unchanged. As a result, residences near large international airports are less likely to be hit by an airplane, while homes near local airstrips are more likely to be at risk.
In an emergency landing, pilots will attempt to land the plane on an empty field of land, like a clear roadway or a grassy area. If the plane encounters difficulties while flying, an air traffic controller will direct the aircraft to the closest landing field. Due to the risk of planes failing to reach the targeted landing area because of mechanical issues, emergency landings like these increase the possibilities of impact for houses near airports.
Commercial airlines operating in large airports can often result in private planes being redirected to smaller airports located near residential areas. These airports are not required to have a control tower, and those equipped with one do not always have air traffic controllers working 24/7. In the absence of a certified air traffic controller, airport staff will usually direct air traffic, significantly increasing the risk of an airplane crash. Additionally, many small airports are not certified to service planes carrying over 30 passengers.
A prominent example of this is the Santa Monica Airport in Los Angeles. This airport has experienced 42 plane crashes within a densely populated, five-mile radius since the 1980s. While the airport features a control tower on the runway, it lacks 24/7 staffing. Despite community members petitioning the airport’s closure for decades to prevent more accidents, they have not succeeded.
Small private planes are not required by law to carry liability insurance, which exposes a greater risk for the victims in an accident. Also, laws governing qualifications for commercial and private pilots differ, with the latter requiring fewer hours of training. This can result in lackluster safety protocol training for a pilot operating an aircraft with less safety technology than their commercial counterparts.
Who Can Be Held Liable In A Plane Vs. House Accident?
Many factors can contribute to a plane crashing into a house, such as improper maintenance, aircraft malfunction, defective plane design, pilot error, or traffic control negligence. Aviation cases can be very complex, as identifying the responsible party is difficult when there are many factors to analyze.
The NTSB has also been known to report on the causes of an air crash incorrectly. In a USA Today investigation, reporters found that many cases in which the NTSB listed pilot error as the leading cause of the accident were later determined in court to be caused by defective parts or poor design. As a result, if you or a loved one are involved in an aviation accident, it is imperative to be represented by aviation attorneys who are willing to conduct a thorough investigation into the true causes of an accident.
The Palm Coast Beechcraft Case
Recently, our firm litigated a case that resulted in the death of three people after a Beechcraft Bonanza crashed into a home in Palm Coast, Florida. At first, the potential causes of the accident were not easily identifiable. During the flight, the plane’s pilot reported unusual vibrations in his engine to air traffic control. The FAA air traffic controller then directed the pilot to the closest airport, which they claimed was only five miles away. Through a lawsuit on behalf of one of the victims, an in-depth investigation by our lawyers discovered that there was, in fact, a closer airport than the one reported by the air traffic controller.
Our lawyers also asserted that by instructing the pilot to fly farther away from the airport and perform many unnecessary turns, the air traffic controller caused the airplane to lose altitude and engine power that would otherwise be essential for a successful emergency landing. Unfortunately, the aircraft crashed while being less than half a mile away from the airport.
Problems Arising From Planes Crashing Into Houses
Compared to commercial airliners, pilots of small planes are not well trained. They do not require the same number of hours for certification and often lack the skills for airplane maintenance. A fundamental problem within the aviation industry is that federal regulators do not mandate pilots of private planes to carry insurance. In the event of a small plane crashing into a house, homeowners can incur severe financial losses as their insurance does not usually cover aviation-related incidents. In these incidents, it can also be very unclear who can be held liable. An expert legal team of aviation attorneys is fundamental to identify the parties responsible for the crash to recover from any sustained losses.
Why are Small Plane Pilots Not Insured?
The FAA argues that there is no monetary incentive for pilots to carry insurance because accidents involving airplanes happen on a much smaller frequency than car accidents. However, there are many more cars on the road than airplanes in the sky.
At Wilshire Law Firm, our mission is to protect the victims’ rights, no matter who the liable party is. As such, we believe that small plane pilots should be required to carry insurance coverage, as these types of accidents can result in millions of dollars in damages.
Contact Us For a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one are injured while on a plane or after a plane crashes into a house, it is fundamental to be represented by a globally-renowned aviation attorney that can successfully litigate and identify the liable parties.
For a free consultation or immediate assistance from our leading attorneys in aviation accident cases, contact Wilshire Law Firm at 888-276-7421.