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Is It Worth Getting a Lawyer After an Airplane Accident?

airplane before an accident

If you or a loved one has been involved in an airplane accident, the most important thing to do is take time to recuperate – both emotionally and physically – before making any important financial decisions. Unfortunately, aircraft insurance companies attempt to settle with crash victims and their families before even allowing them to heal or grieve, much less seek their own legal help. In most cases, the compensation insurance companies offer does not come close to the amount that victims deserve.

As a licensed pilot and personal injury attorney, Samuel Kane knows the ins and outs of aviation law. He helps those who have been injured in airplane accidents as well as those who have tragically lost loved ones. Here’s why it’s absolutely worth contacting Kane Law after an aviation accident.

How Do Aviation Accidents Happen, and Who’s to Blame?

According to data from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, 1,043 airplane accidents happened in the U.S. in 2023, with 179 of them being fatal. Accidents happen for a number of reasons, including:


  • Pilot error
  • Air traffic controller’s error
  • Mechanical error
  • Improper maintenance
  • Structural defects of the plane
  • Defects in the runway
  • Airline crews who do not follow the Federal Aviation Administration’s rules
  • Weather conditions


When it comes to filing a lawsuit after an aviation accident, there is usually one of three parties to blame for the incident:

Common Carrier 

As a public transportation provider, commercial airlines have a duty to keep passengers safe. They must follow strict standards established by the Federation Aviation Association, and if any of those protocols are neglected, the airline can be found liable for passenger injuries or death resulting from a crash. 


Pilots of all aircraft should receive extensive training and be fully engaged while flying a plane. If a pilot becomes distracted or is reckless during a flight, it can lead to an accident. A private pilot can be held liable for causing a crash. If flying for a commercial airline, the airline can be held liable for hiring or allowing an incompetent pilot to fly the plane. 


Airplanes are built with hundreds of parts. If any of those parts are found to be defective after an aviation accident investigation, the manufacturer can be held liable for any accidents or injuries caused by the defective product. One recent example is the Alaska Airlines plane that lost a door plug in flight due to having missing bolts. Boeing built the aircraft and may be held liable.

airplane after an accident
Image by Jure Kralj by Canva.com

Can a Lawyer Help in a Commercial Aircraft Accident?

Commercial airline operations are overseen by the FAA, which is a government organization responsible for civil aviation safety. Pilots, crew members on board, and a ground crew work together to guarantee the aircraft takes off, travels, and lands safely. If safety protocols are broken or there is any miscommunication, injuries to passengers can happen in-flight, during hard landings, or in a crash. 

Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, the federal government may be responsible for an airplane accident if damages occur due to the government failing to maintain an aircraft, or if federal airport employees cause an accident. Such was the case at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport in 2000, when an air traffic controller mistakenly allowed two Cessna planes to take off on the same runway at the same time, causing them to collide. Families of the passengers who died sought help from a law firm to successfully sue the FAA for millions. 

In cases where there is a defect with the plane or faulty mechanics, an attorney can prove that the airline or a parts manufacturer is to blame. In 2018, an Albuquerque couple sued Southwest Airlines and Boeing for negligence after their traumatic flight from Dallas to New York. An engine fan blade came loose and struck a window, causing debris to fly around the inside of the plane and strike the couple. They sought compensation from the airline and its parts manufacturer for failing to conduct due diligence through testing or inspections of the airplane, which caused them to endure headaches, hearing loss, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, emotional distress, depression, and “physical manifestations of the emotional and mental trauma they experienced.” 

Attorneys Can’t Contact You for 45 Days, But You Can Contact Them

While it is possible to sue the FAA or a commercial airline for damages, there are roadblocks in place for doing so. The Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act prohibits attorneys and their agents from having unsolicited contact with victims or their families until 45 days after the crash. During this time, the FAA, airline and its manufacturers have time to hire and consult with well-funded defense teams who will build a case to save their clients as much money as possible. Before you are offered a settlement, it’s crucial to contact an attorney who will be on your side to tell you whether you deserve more. Once you sign anything, it’s likely binding and there’s no going back for a higher amount.

Can I Seek Compensation in a Private Aviation Accident?

Accidents involving small aircraft are much more common than commercial crashes. Their small size makes them more vulnerable to poor weather conditions. And statistics from the National Transportation Safety Board show that the most common reason personal planes crash is due to pilot error. Pilots of private aircraft not only have less training than commercial pilots, but they are less likely to monitor equipment and more likely to misjudge a landing. 

In 2014, three teens from Silver City tragically lost their lives after their small plane crashed while on a school trip. With help from an attorney, their parents were able to get compensation from the New Mexico Public School Insurance Authority, proving the school showed negligence by hiring an unskilled pilot to fly their students. 

Faulty mechanics can also be the reason for small plane accidents. When filing a lawsuit, an attorney’s investigation will help determine whether a pilot’s negligence caused the accident or if a manufacturer deserves the blame.   

Airplane Accident Injuries Can Be Catastrophic

Any airplane crash can result in fatalities, leaving families grieving from the loss of loved ones. 

Life insurance typically covers claims arising from commercial airline accidents and typically excludes claims for accidents involving general aviation and corporate aviation crashes. 

Survivors are likely to endure serious injuries including head injuries, broken bones, limb amputations, major lacerations, severe burns, trauma-induced strokes, and heart attacks. 

Even long after an aviation accident, psychological trauma can linger. Flashbacks, anxiety, and grief are likely to last for years. Between medical bills, counseling services, and possibly being unable to work again, the financial burden of a plane crash can be astronomical. 

A personal injury lawyer can help file a wrongful death suit on behalf of families who have lost loved ones. For surviving victims, they can seek compensation to cover the costs of bills, along with pain and suffering. 

At Kane Law Firm, We’re Experts in Aviation Accidents

As a qualified professional pilot, Samuel Kane recognizes that transportation is totally out of passengers’ control from the time they board the aircraft until they land. As a personal injury lawyer, he knows when an airplane accident victim is owed compensation and how to get it.  

The National Transportation Safety Board always begins to investigate airplane accidents as soon as they occur. Sam will stay up to date on their investigation, keeping his eye out for manufacturing oversights, error misjudgment, or maintenance mistakes that could have caused the crash. Once the NTSB’s investigation is over, he can present his evidence and negotiate with the liable party’s attorney and insurance company on your behalf. Contact us for a free/no-obligation consultation today.