Holiday season dimmed by fatal Fresno, Calif., plane crash that killed 2

Airplane rides can bring joy, wonder and exhilaration, and be the key to visiting new places and experiencing other cultures. But, unfortunately, when something goes wrong and a plane crashes, the risk of catastrophic injury and death are of course very high.

Fresno aviation accident

In late December 2013, family members waited early in the evening at the Fresno, Calif., Chandler Downtown Airport for a 72-year-old uncle and licensed pilot and his 8-year-old nephew to land after their flight from Tehachapi, about 150 miles south. Instead, the single-engine Cessna reportedly borrowed from another party crashed into a nearby residential area and burst into flames. Both were killed in the aviation accident test.

According to The Fresno Bee, federal aviation officials are spearheading the investigation into the accident. A local official told the Bee that so far it has been determined that the runway lights were operating properly and nearby trees appropriately trimmed. The aircraft wreckage has been removed for examination in the investigation.

Legal counsel important

When an aviation accident occurs, it is important for those injured and for the survivors of those killed to contact legal counsel as soon as possible because of the importance of early investigation and evidence gathering. In addition, the significant complexity of the legal issues in aviation accident claims should be researched and analyzed by a skilled personal injury attorney.

While government officials will investigate the accident, it can be crucial for a victim's personal injury lawyer to be involved both to monitor the investigation and to gather any other pertinent information. Many things can contribute to an aircraft accident: human error, weather, defective equipment, negligent maintenance and more.

Determining all contributing factors and who was responsible for them can be a monumental task, and a personal injury attorney with specific aviation accident experience can be a tremendous asset to those injured. In addition to the factual complexity, the legal analysis requires skill and knowledge.

For example, depending on the circumstances, local, state, federal and even international or foreign law may come into play. There may be more than one jurisdiction where a lawsuit may be filed and legal counsel must educate the plaintiff about the strengths and weaknesses of the choices.

Potentially responsible parties and claims

Here are some of the possible bases for liability:

  • An airline could have negligently hired, supervised or trained its pilots, crews or ground employees
  • A pilot or crew member could have failed to follow government safety regulations or acted recklessly or negligently
  • An air traffic controller could have acted negligently or failed to follow safety procedures
  • An engineer or manufacturer may have been at fault for designing or manufacturing dangerous equipment
  • A maintenance worker may have performed improper maintenance or repair
  • And more

Potential lawsuits include those for personal injury, property destruction, negligence, wrongful death, breach of contract or warranty, product liability, strict liability and more, depending on the circumstances.