Scene of an aircraft accident

While statistically less likely than most other accidents, aircraft accidents can be completely and utterly devastating when they do occur. The physical and emotional trauma that results from an aircraft accident can feel insurmountable, but at Williams Iagmin we are here to help you navigate the legal process that follows.


For the purposes of defining aircraft accidents, the term “aircraft” encompasses all types of planes and other flying machines, including jumbo jets, private jets, helicopters, turboprop planes, powered parachutes, and more. According to the  National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), in 2016 there was a total of 1282 aviation accidents in the United States and 412 people lost their lives. Zero people died on a major airline, four died in an accident on an unregistered or foreign aircraft, eight on a commuter craft, 19 died in an air taxi, and 386 died in accidents involving other general types of aircraft. In addition to these deaths, hundreds more were seriously injured as a result of aircraft accidents that year.

An aircraft accident can be caused by a number of factors, typically through a person’s negligence or a defective piece of equipment. The most common causes of aircraft accidents include:

  • Negligence of air traffic controllers
  • Errors in runway traffic control
  • Mechanical or maintenance problems with the aircraft
  • Aircraft crew negligence
  • Malfunctioning aircraft software
  • Pilot disobeying aviation regulations or instructions
  • Pilot error, negligence, or omission
  • Pilot flying under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Flying in inclement weather
  • Loss of visibility on take-off or landing


Depending on the cause of an aircraft accident, lawsuits can be filed for negligence or under strict liability. Negligence lawsuits are filed against a person, persons, or company that failed to live up to a certain duty of care and that failure ultimately led to the accident. Strict liability lawsuits are filed if the cause of the accident is found to be a defective piece of the aircraft or its equipment. Depending on the circumstances, the liable parties for an accident can include the following:

  • The pilot
  • The airline crew
  • Air traffic controllers
  • Runway and other maintenance crew
  • Any companies responsible for the maintenance of the aircraft and its equipment
  • The parent airline company and any subsidiaries


If a person survives an aircraft accident, the physical and emotional injuries can be devastating and take years to fully recover. Unfortunately for many families, the result of an aircraft accident means the loss of a loved one. Under California law, the victims of aviation accidents and their families are entitled to economic and non-economic damages for their losses.

Economic damages for a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit include past and future medical bills, lost wages, damaged property, funeral costs, and any other out-of-pocket expenses. Non-economic damages refer to compensation for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life.


If the unthinkable has happened, and you or a loved one has been involved in an aircraft accident, contact the attorneys at William Iagmin, LLP today. Call or contact the office now to schedule a free consultation for your claim.