New York Senator Chuck Schumer has called for an in-depth federal investigation into the state’s recent spate of aviation accidents involving small planes, including 10 on Long Island just in the past year. According to a Newsday report, Senator Schumer said during a news conference in Manhattan that there have been two small plane crashes in the New York metro area just since the beginning of this year. A vintage single-engine plane crashed and burst into flames in Westhampton Beach Feb. 26 and on Feb. 19, a single-engine Piper PA-28 plane crashed into a residential area of Bayonne, New Jersey.
Spike in Small Plane Crashes
In a letter to the National Transportation Safety Board, Schumer asked the agency to examine New York’s small plane accidents over the past year to evaluate potential steps that could help prevent them, particularly as they endanger neighborhoods along the flight path of these planes. Schumer specifically pointed out the prevalence of these types of accidents on Long Island, noting that of the state’s 18 small plane crashes last year, 10 were linked to Long Island.
It is interesting to note that Long Island has seen an increase in small plane crashes at a time when such accidents have been decreasing nationwide. Nationwide, the number of fatal small plane crashes has dropped from 272 in 2010 to 238 in 2015, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Federal agencies also state that human error is the leading cause of small plane crashes nationally. But experts say Long Island probably has a higher incidence of these crashes because it is in a busy airspace and due to its proximity with New York City.
Need to Change the Rules
A recent New York Times Op-Ed pointed out the different administrative rules for commercial versus general aviation. Because the rules are less stringent for general aviation compared to commercial planes, the risks tend to be much higher. For example, general aviation pilots can receive certification to fly with a relatively lower number of flight hours. We know that a majority of general aviation accidents involve pilot error. The errors made by these inexperienced pilots tend to manifest particularly during challenging situations such when flying in bad weather. According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, nearly 75 percent of weather-related crashes are fatal. Also, numerous accidents have led to the FAA issuing alerts regarding private pilots who operate their planes while on prescription or nonprescription over-the-counter medications
Compensation for Injured Victims
Some experts have called for the FAA to require all general aviation pilots to carry liability insurance, which would in turn require pilots to have the better training that insurance companies mandate. Currently, there is no legal requirement for the owner of a small plane or the pilot of such an aircraft to carry insurance to cover injuries to passengers or third parties on the ground who may be affected by a crash. According to the Times article, one homeowner in Florida found this out the hard way when a single-engine plane crashed into his Palm Coast home. The house was completely wrecked, but the owner who survived was shocked to learn that the pilot who crashed into his home had no insurance. The same is true for passengers who may be severely injured in such crashes.
Victims of aviation accidents often suffer severe or catastrophic injuries ranging from irreversible brain or spinal cord injuries and burn injuries that leave them with permanent disabilities and could result in scarring and disfigurement. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the incident, injured victims of aviation accidents may be able to seek compensation from several parties including, but not limited to, the plane’s owner, the pilot, the aviation company, the aircraft manufacturer, etc.
Injured victims can seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, rehabilitative treatment, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc. Those who have lost loved ones in such cases can also seek compensation by filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault or negligent parties.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured in an aviation accident, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you. For over 45 years, our skilled accident attorneys have established a proven track record of helping injured victims get fair compensation for their losses.
Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury cases in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
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1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES
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