From driving a car to riding a bike, all modern methods of transportation rely on specialized systems that must work together perfectly. A tire blowout or sudden brake failure can cause significant injuries to passengers on the ground, but unfortunately these components can also fail at 30,000 feet. It only takes one defect—a short in a wire, a rusted screw, a broken latch—to cause a debilitating or even fatal aviation injury.
Defective Aircraft Components That May Injure Travelers
Aircraft defects are not just a common cause of airplane crashes, they are often a contributing factor in near-miss incidents, runway accidents, and in-flight injuries. A component on a plane may be unsafe by design or simply have suffered too much wear and tear, leading to a sudden failure that can injure several travelers onboard.
Defects can occur in any area or system of an airplane, including:
- Mechanical components. Electrical or mechanical failure can affect the navigation system or engine controls, sending the plane off-course. Faulty wiring can cause the lights to fail on the wings and tail, making it impossible for other planes to see the aircraft. Problems with wheels and brake systems can make for a bumpy or uncontrolled landing, while stuck doors can prevent the landing gear from lowering.
- Interior compartments. Many passengers have suffered in-flight injuries as a result of luggage falling out of overhead bins, tripping or falling on the way to the bathroom, or hitting their heads in heavy turbulence—many of which could have been avoided if the seatbelts and seatbelt signals were functioning normally.
- Fuselage and exterior. The body of the plane can suffer dents or rust along the wings, propellers, rudder, or spoilers, making it more difficult to control the flight in high winds. A crack in the windows can lead to a loss of cabin pressure, while a leak in the fuel tank can force an emergency landing.
Who Is Responsible for Aircraft Defects?
Air travel providers are required to make sure that their aircrafts are reasonably safe for all different kinds of passengers. Aviation laws require each party in the air travel process—including pilots, manufacturers, mechanics, and maintenance crews—to make regular inspections of all of their planes to identify any potential points of failure. If a passenger is injured as a result of faulty equipment, he or she may be owed compensation from:
- The commercial airline. Under the Federal Aviation Act, all commercial airline carriers are responsible for negligence on the part of their employees. The airline can be held liable for the injuries that result due to an overloaded plane, a pilot’s failure to warn passengers of weather conditions that could increase turbulence, an inspector who cleared an old or outdated plane for service, or mistakes made by an air traffic controller.
- Parts manufacturers. Airlines may provide the travel service, but they do not build the planes that carry their passengers. The company who manufactured the plane can be held liable for injuries caused by a defective design, failure to disclose potential problems, or defects that occurred during the assembly of the plane.
- A private company. While operators of charter flights or other small aircraft are exempt from federal carrier laws, they still have a duty to protect their passengers. Travelers on corporate jets, charter flights, helicopters, or other non-commercial aircraft may be able to collect compensation from the company or pilot for injuries sustained on private flights.
- Maintenance crews. Many airlines rely on third-party mechanics and maintenance providers to adequately identify and replace worn or broken components. These contractors may be sued for any injuries caused by lax inspections or shoddy workmanship.
It is vital for passengers who have been injured during a plane trip to learn about their rights as quickly as possible. Depending on the details of your case, you only have a limited window of time to collect compensation for your medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering.
The aviation accident attorneys at GriffithLaw can perform a thorough investigation to determine what caused your injury and who is responsible—and we do not collect any legal fees unless we win your case. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page to set up your no-cost injury consultation, or learn more about your rights in our free guide, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.