Aviation Law Overview
Encountering issues with an airline can often leave you feeling like you have very few options. When an airline isn’t responding to your questions, you can turn somewhere else. An aviation law attorney may be able to help you get money for any injuries that happened on the airplane.
Most aviation law falls under federal law, but some issues can involve state negligence and personal injury law. This page has general information about aviation law, but some specific rules are determined by the state where the injury occurred. Talk to an aviation law attorney in your area to get legal advice about your rights in an airplane injury claim.
What Is Aviation Law?
Aviation law is the area of law that involves airlines and air travel. Aviation law encompasses many issues, ranging from claims involving passengers and airlines to zoning regulations and international aviation law. This legal area is generally based on federal and international laws, but some issues can involve state and local laws.
For consumers, most aviation law issues involve problems with the airlines, criminal matters in airports and on airlines, and airplane-related injuries.
History of Aviation Law in the U.S.
Aviation law began to develop in the early 1900s when air transport became more common and national and international flights started to operate between states and other countries.
In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), under the Department of Transportation, is the federal body that regulates civilian aviation in the United States. This includes air traffic control, aircraft and pilot certification, and airport standards. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is the agency in charge of aircraft accident investigations and aviation safety recommendations.
The Department of Transportation has developed a consumer flyer rights guide that outlines the rights and responsibilities of commercial flyers and airline companies. However, the DOT primarily puts the responsibilities on consumers and provides minimal consumer protections.
Airline Accident Injuries
We mostly hear about the major airplane accidents that occur every few years, but airline-related accident injuries happen every day. Airplanes pose dangers even while on the ground. Types of airplane-related injuries include:
- Coffee burn injuries
- Food poisoning
- Slip and falls
- Hit by falling luggage
- Assault by another passenger
- Rough landings
If a customer is injured in an airline accident, they may be able to recover money for medical care and lost wages. Like other personal injury claims, airline accidents can be based on claims of negligence. If someone is injured because of the negligence of flight attendants, other passengers, or pilots, they may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit for damages.
Is the Airline Company Responsible for Damages?
The airline may be responsible for airplane accident damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage. Even if a flight attendant or pilot causes the accident, the airline may be liable as the employer. An employer can be vicariously liable for the negligence of an employee while in the course of their job. A company taking shortcuts may cause other accidents because of poor airplane maintenance and repair standards.
What Happens If the Airline Cancels My Flight?
If your flight is delayed, you may be better off trying to arrange an alternative flight on your own. If your flight is canceled, you are entitled to a refund of the ticket price. Most airlines will rebook you on the next available flight. However, there are no federal requirements for compensation for delayed or canceled flights, and each airline has its own policies.
Some flyers purchase flight cancellation insurance, but be sure to read the terms and conditions of the insurance policy. It may not cover all causes of cancellation.
Most airlines overbook flights to account for people who don’t show up, which can result in bumping passengers. Voluntary bumping may allow you to get something for voluntarily taking a later flight. Depending on the airline and the rebooking, an airline may offer you money, airline credit, and hotel and food vouchers. If you are involuntarily bumped, airlines must give you a written explanation of your rights, which may include compensation depending on your ticket’s price and the delay’s length.
What Can I Get If the Airline Lost My Baggage and Ruined My Property?
If the airline loses your baggage, they are required to compensate you. You will generally have to submit a claim form with details about the lost property. The airline may not offer you the total value of your lost property. You may have to negotiate with the airline for fair compensation. Receipts and other documentation can help back up your claim.
Lost baggage and flight delays can ruin important events like weddings and family holiday gatherings. However, airlines are not responsible for the associated costs of a vacation for a delayed flight, including the cost of hotels, cruise tickets, or train travel. However, if you are flying internationally to or from Europe, you may be protected by stronger consumer rights laws for delayed flight compensation.
How Can an Aviation Lawyer Help?
Even if you have filed a claim with the airline, you may not get the response you are looking for. Airline customer service is not always the best. Airline representatives often try and get away with giving you the least possible to resolve your problem. This includes giving you the minimum compensation for canceling a flight or losing your bag.
Your attorney will take a different approach. They can go straight to the airline’s legal department. This may help you recover much more money for your lost items or ruined vacation.
An attorney can help you file a personal injury lawsuit if you were injured in an airplane accident. Attorneys help evaluate your injuries and assess your total losses. A lawyer can also negotiate with the airline to help you recover money for medical bills and loss of income. Contact an aviation law attorney for legal advice about your case.
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Additional Aviation Law Articles
- How To Find an Aviation Attorney
- How an Aviation Attorney Can Help
- Common Types of Aviation Accident Cases
- Can You Sue an Airline for Lost Luggage?