Chicago Airplane Accident Attorneys
Aviation accidents can be devastating. Whether there’s an accident on a small, private plane or a large commercial aircraft, the destruction to human life, families and property is catastrophic.
After an aviation accident, lawsuits are often necessary to cover the costs of medical treatment, lost wages, damages to property, wrongful death, and other expenses.
While we typically think of aviation accidents as large-scale issues that get big headlines, the reality is that aviation accidents are quite common. In 2014, 761 people died in commercial airline crashes – and that doesn’t even begin to look at private planes or helicopter accidents. These accidents can shatter the lives of families in Chicago.
In fact, aviation accidents occur in a variety of aircraft, including:
- Single-engine aircraft
- Commercial airliners
- Prop planes
- Sea planes
- Private jets
- Air ambulances
- Military aircraft
Here’s What You Need To Know – Aviation Accidents
What laws govern air travel, state or federal?
The Federal Government enacts laws regulating air navigation. It is the nation’s right of sovereignty to say who shall cross the border, when and in what manner through the powers of the Constitution.1 The Federal Aviation Act prohibits state or local governments from enacting or enforcing any law, rule, regulation, standard, or other provision relating to rates, routes or services of any air carrier authorized under the Act to provide interstate air transportation.
However, nothing in the provision limits the authority of any state or local government as the owner or operator of an airport to exercise its ownership powers and rights.2
If I am involved in an aviation accident in Illinois, how long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit?
The statute of limitations is the amount of time a person has to file a complaint, stating why they are suing another person, before they are prohibited from doing so.
In the state of Illinois, a person suing for personal injuries sustained from an aviation accident has two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/13-202. However, if the plaintiff is a minor they have two years after they turn 18 to file a lawsuit for their injuries. 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/13-211(a).
If the lawsuit is against a local entity or its employees it must be filed within one year of the date of the accident. 745 Ill. Comp. Stat. 10/8-101(a).
Additionally, if a person dies from an aviation accident, an action under the Wrongful Death Act must be filed within two years after death when the personal representative of the deceased knew or should have known that the death was caused wrongfully. 740 Ill. Comp. Stat. 180/2.
It is best to contact a personal injury attorney who has experience with Illinois law in order to accurately determine the appropriate statute of limitations for your specific situation.
Will the statute of limitations be different if the plane my loved one was on disappeared and has not been found?
Yes. The statute of limitations under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act does not begin to run with respect to an action arising out of the disappearance of an aircraft until the discovery of the wreckage of the aircraft at which time the action has accrued.3
Are there any special duties of care that Illinois air carriers owe passengers?
An airplane is a common carrier and therefore owes its passengers the highest degree of care. This includes providing a competent pilot, and an airworthy airplane.4 Additionally, the owner or operator of an airfield near water has a duty to make ingress and egress reasonably safe, and a duty to rescue passengers if there is an accident in the water.5
Who will be held liable for my personal injuries stemming from an aviation accident?
The Federal Tort Claims Act states that the United States will be held liable relating to tort claims, in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual under like circumstances.
A claim would be brought against the United States for money damages for personal injury or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any government employee while acting within the scope of his office or employment.6 For example, air-traffic control tower operators or personnel guiding or controlling aircraft in the air or when landing or taking off at airports may be found guilty of negligence in the performance of their duties rendering them personally liable or imposing liability upon their employer, the United States, as an employer of those civilians.
A claim may also be brought in negligence, wrongful death or product liability against the airline, pilot, staff and airplane or parts manufacturer.
If there is a plane crash what law governs, state or federal?
If there is a plane crash, state law governs tort claims brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act, not federal common law.7 However, the United States District Judge will hear the case.
However, a wrongful death action against a common carrier, charging both common-law negligence in several particulars and also negligence in violating certain federal regulations, may be brought in a state court and it does not lose its character as an action for negligence under state law merely by claiming the violation of the federal regulation and adding another ground of negligence for recovery.8
What types of damages may be recovered in an aviation accident?
If you are injured in an aviation accident, you are entitled to recover damages for pain and suffering, past and future lost wages, past and future medical expenses, emotional distress and past and future pain and suffering.
Aviation Accident Representation
Because there are so many different kinds of aircraft, it’s important to hire an attorney who understands the aviation industry as well as the complexity of airline accidents. The Lamber Goodnow legal team and the lawyers at our partner firms can assist with any aviation accident matters.
With an office in downtown Chicago, we and our partner firms will investigate the complexities of the case, including assessing liability and negligence, reconstructing the accident, reviewing maintenance history of the aircraft, investigating the pilot and the craft’s owner, and more. Our technical experts and engineers can review the craft’s logbooks, and take a scientific approach to understanding the accident, what happened, what should have happened, and who was responsible.
Our thorough approach ensures your interests are addressed, and you can focus on healing. We’ll work with the defendants and the insurance companies while we fight for you.
Crashes or incidents that involve several different victims could result in a class-action lawsuit. While it might be in your best interest to join a class-action claim, you also should still consider retaining your own personal counsel. This ensures that your rights and complete interests are being addressed, both within the class action and separate from it.
With the Lamber Goodnow injury law team, our clients pay us no fees or out-of-pocket expenses. We only make money if we successfully recover funds on your behalf in a settlement or verdict in your favor. It’s that simple.
We know accidents like these are catastrophic – the last thing you and your family need is legal bills and more complexity. That’s why we have our No-Fee Promise, and it’s why we always offer a free, no-obligation initial consultation with prospective clients.
Just call us at (312) 757-7777, 24/7, to learn about your options. We’ll ask you a few questions and you can tell us your story.
1 United States v. Batre, (1934, CA9 Ariz.) 270 Mass. 511, 170 N.E. 385, 69 ALR. 300.
2 49 USCS §1305(b).
3 Praznik v. Sport Aero, Inc., (1976, 1st Dist.) 42 Ill. App 3d 330, 355 N.E.2d 686.
4 Kamienski v. Bluebird Air Service, Inc., (1944) 321 Ill. App 340, 53 N.E.2d 131, error dismd. 389 Ill. 462, 59 N.E.2d 853.
5 Bishop v. Chicago, (1970, 1st Dist.) 121 Ill. App 2d 33, 257 N.E.2d 152.
6 28 USCS § 1346(b).
7 Bowen v. United States, (1978, CA7 Ill.) 570 F2d 1311.
8 Southeastern Aviation, Inc. v. Hurd, (1962) 209 Tenn. 639, 355 SW2d 436, app. dismd. 371 US 21, 9 L Ed. 2d 96, 83 S. Ct. 120.