Austin Aviation Accident Lawyers

The clear skies of Texas offer many opportunities for personal aircraft activities and helicopter flights catering to tourists and for medical emergencies. Although airline travel is generally one of the safest modes of transportation, there are a number of incidents each year when commercial or personal aircraft encounter problems from any number of causes. Mechanical errors, weather, equipment failure, or other difficulties, can all lead to tragic aviation accidents that more often than not result in fatalities.

The attorneys at Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP are highly regarded Austin aviation accident attorneys who have a long record of successful settlements in these catastrophic accidents. If you were injured in an aircraft accident or had a loved one who was killed, call us today for a free consultation at (512) 593-7650.

What Causes an Aviation Accident?

An equipment malfunction can occur suddenly or it could appear as a result of lack of maintenance or from a defective part. Most airplanes are fixed wing aircraft, meaning that they use a fixed wing with either a propeller or a jet engine which are found on both commercial and personal airplanes. There are a number of things that can go wrong with these types of aircraft:

  • Ice on the airframe
  • Defects in design or the plane's structure
  • Failure to service or maintain
  • Bird strikes
  • Human or pilot error
  • Error by air traffic controller
  • In-flight instrument or avionics failure
  • Fueling errors
  • Pilot inexperience
  • Inclement weather
  • Violation of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations

Cockpit instruments such as altitude indicators and the autopilot can fail without warning. An air traffic controller has to follow certain air traffic control procedures or else collisions or runway mishaps can occur. A pilot or airline should be prepared for bird strike incidents to reduce their happenstance or the damage that can occur.

What Causes Helicopter Crashes?

Helicopters are unusual aircrafts. They can fly vertically and at low altitudes, are essential in quickly airlifting critically ill or injured patients, otherwise known as 'life flight', and is commonly used in fighting fires and military missions. They are also highly complex machines and require sophisticated training and maintenance. Helicopter crashes occur during many different scenarios:

  • Sightseeing tours
  • Emergency airlifting
  • Private contractors handling military operations
  • Reporting on traffic conditions
  • Chartered flights

Because of their unique nature, investigating a helicopter accident usually involves more in-depth examination of the causes of an accident.

Helicopter accidents occur from many different causes:

  • Improper maintenance
  • Poor pilot training
  • Operating the aircraft in unsafe weather
  • Failure to appreciate the aircraft's limitations
  • Electrical source malfunctions
  • Faulty design such as fuel tanks
  • Inadequate testing

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

All aircraft accidents are investigated by the NTSB. Its representatives examine the aircraft's maintenance history, air traffic control communications, weather, the aircraft itself, and the plane's cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder or black box. Pilot error accounts for the majority of airplane disasters so the pilot's actions and training are also investigated.

In non-fatal accidents involving fixed wing aircraft of less than 12,500 pounds, and home built aircraft, the NTSB may delegate the investigation to the FAA, or Federal Aviation Administration. Unfortunately, attorneys for the victims are not permitted to participate in the NTSB investigation. The NTSB will establish the probable cause for the crash but does not allocate blame on the parties who may have contributed to the accident.

For these and other reasons, you will need a law firm that has the resources to uncover the causes and responsible parties in an aircraft accident and to hire credible experts to support causation and liability. The Austin attorneys at Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP will work to preserve evidence and avoid the loss of evidence. While we cannot participate in the NTSB investigation, our own investigators can conduct a parallel investigation including interviewing any witness regardless if they have been questioned by NTSB investigators. Our experts will also review the cockpit voice recorder transcripts and ground track plots from FAA raw data, examine diagrams and reports and review or produce our own computer recreations.

Preventing an Aviation Accident

While federal law requires that interstate air carriers maintain at least $300,00 per person and $20,000,000 in insurance coverage, Texas, like most states, does not have mandatory liability insurance requirements. Still, most private carriers in Texas do possess coverage. Commercial airline disasters often occur either in international waters or in other countries. Jurisdictional issues may arise that our attorneys will address and will undertake all efforts to see that your claim is handled in a US court where the rules of evidence and damages generally favor victims and their families.

International disasters may be governed by international law in which your claim may have to be litigated pursuant to the Montreal or Warsaw Conventions. Obviously, you will need a law firm like Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP with attorneys who are familiar with international law as it applies to airline accidents.

For victims of aviation accidents involving the military, you may come up against obstacles to receiving compensation. For example, you cannot sue the US government or the military if you or your loved one was on active military duty. You also cannot bring a negligence claim against contractors who provide services or materials to the military. Civilians, however, may bring claims depending on the contract status or relationship pertaining to the aircraft including services that were outsourced to private companies.

Choose Experienced Aviation Attorneys

The Austin aviation lawyers from Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP have unusually broad experience in aircraft crash litigation as well as personal experience in operating single wing aircraft and helicopters. We have lawyers with military aircraft experience including helicopters; pilot instructor training; degrees in aeronautical science and success in lawsuits against aircraft manufacturers such as Cessna Aircraft Co., Kaman Aerospace, Bell Helicopter and Avco Lycoming among others.

Airplane and helicopter accidents demand legal representation from attorneys who can handle the complexities and unique issues found in these types of cases. Call Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP today for a no-cost, no obligation consultation at 512-593-7650.

Don Davis

Don Davis is the managing partner of Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP. He started handling aviation cases in 1975. He has successfully litigated cases involving manufacturers such as Cessna Aircraft Co., Kaman Aerospace, Bell Helicopter and Avco Lycoming, to name a few over the past 35 years all over the country.

He earned his B.S. at Abilene Christian University and an L.L.B. from the University of Texas School of Law in Austin. Don served as a briefing attorney for Justice Meade F. Griffin in the Supreme Court of Texas before he began his career at Byrd Davis Eisenberg, L.L.P. in 1966.

More information about Don L. Davis.

Some of Our Notable Aviation Cases

Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP has represented victims of the following aviation accidents involving aircraft similar to those depicted.

1968 - Piedmont Airlines mid-air collision in Ashville, North Carolina.

1968 - Braniff International Airways crash in severe weather over Dawson, Texas killed 80 passengers.

1973 - Jim Croce was killed when his charter plane crashed into trees in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

1980 - A Scenic Airlines charter plane lost power after take off and crashed near the Grand Canyon, killing the pilot and seven passengers.

1985 - Delta Airlines Crash at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.

1990 - Stevie Ray Vaughan was killed when his helicopter crashed into a ski slope in fog near East Troy, Wisconsin.

1991 - 7 members of Reba McEntire's band were killed when their plane crashed into mountainous terrain near San Diego, California.

1991 - United Airlines crash in Colorado Springs, Co.

1995 - Porter vs. Bell Helicopter - first case that established civil liability of helicopter manufacturers for mast bumping.

2000 - Osprey cases

2001 - Engine seizure brought down a private plane in Haslet, Texas, injuring 3.

2003 - Navy helicopter caught fire in flight killing the pilot and three passengers in Italy.

2003 - Airplane wing came off during maneuvers near Montgomery, Texas killing the pilot and passenger.

2004 - Army helicopter hit television transmission tower in Texas killing 7.

2004 - A cargo plane lost power in Colorado and crashed into terrain killing the pilot and passenger.

2004 - A medical rescue helicopter collided with terrain while attempting to land in a parking lot in Arizona killing a crew member and seriously injuring the pilot and a second crew member.

2005 - Helicopter crashed en route to Finland, landing in water and killing 14.

2006 - A private pilot was killed when his plane crashed into terrain in Colorado.

2007 - Private plane lost power after takeoff at night and crashed into terrain killing the pilot and passenger in Texas.