The Law Offices of Mark A. Doughty offer caring, tough, and effective representation from an attorney who understands the factual and legal issues in complex cases such as airplane crashes.
Attorney Mark A. Doughty is a licensed pilot who understands the special legal issues faced in aircraft accidents. He has been flying and trying personal injury accident cases in Northern California for decades. If you or a loved one has been involved in an aircraft accident, contact the Law Offices of Mark A. Doughty to speak with an experienced, qualified Sacramento injury attorney who can help you evaluate your legal situation.
California is one of only a handful of states which requires aircraft operators to carry liability insurance, yet as with automobile accidents, the minimum amounts required by law are woefully inadequate to compensate an injured individual in most instances. As you might expect, aircraft accidents often involve significant property damage as well as serious or catastrophic injuries, or even death. Fortunately, an operator or owner carrying only minimum liability may have other significant assets, so that a claim against the negligent operator may still result in a collectable judgment or settlement. Also, where "pilot error" is at fault, the owner or operator of the aircraft may also be liable to the injured party, under a theory of "vicarious liability."
Pilot error is not always the cause of an accident, or at least not always the sole cause. A defect in the aircraft or a component part may have caused or contributed to the accident, in which case a lawsuit against the manufacturer under a products liability theory should be brought. However, aircraft manufacturers are often protected by statutes of repose which limit the timeframe within which a lawsuit may be brought, so it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. The General Aviation Revitalization Act (GARA) contains such a statute of repose to limit the liability of manufacturers of small private planes. However, GARA does contain several exceptions; an experienced aviation accident lawyer can assess the facts and circumstances of your case and advise you further.
It is important to understand what type of aircraft was involved in the accident. Commercial airlines and other common carriers are held to higher standards and stricter Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations than owners and operators of private planes. A private owner who charges for a flight may result in the owner being considered a commercial carrier and therefore subject to these higher standards. This could happen even where an owner is not charging a fee for the flight, but has asked to be reimbursed for fuel or other expenses of the trip.
Between the manufacturer and pilot of the aircraft are several others who may have caused the accident, including air traffic controllers whose job is to guide the aircraft away from collisions, and mechanics and maintenance crews on the ground who are responsible for preparing the craft for flight in good working order. Aircraft cases are quite complex, and it takes an experienced lawyer to know how to properly investigate the accident and determine the appropriate responsible parties.