FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT AVIATION ACCIDENTS
Do I need an attorney that specializes in aviation accidents?
Yes. Aviation accident litigation is highly specialized and requires an understanding of the complex legal and technical issues. We have successfully handled hundreds of airplane and helicopter crash cases and have a well-established network of expert witnesses and consultants, who are necessary in a successful aviation accident lawsuit. For this reason, we are often hired by other personal injury lawyers to assist with the aviation-specific aspects of cases. Learn more about our aviation litigation experience here.
What geographical area do you handle cases in?
We handle aviation accident cases all over the world.
Our offices are located in Seattle, Washington, (aka “Jet City”) which is an important hub of the aerospace industry. Many of The Boeing Company’s airplanes are designed and manufactured in the greater Seattle area, and numerous other aviation companies are headquartered here as well. As the closest major metropolitan area to the state of Alaska, much of Alaska’s aviation industry also has some connection to Seattle. Therefore, we often find that regardless of where a crash occurs, many of the important witnesses and experts are located in Seattle, so litigation is frequently based here even if the crash was not.
Sometimes there are legal or practical reasons to file cases elsewhere, so we also work with a network of attorneys in other states and countries, whenever necessary. In those cases, our fee is shared with the out-of-state attorneys, so this will not affect the amount you recover.
When should I hire an attorney?
There are time limits on when you can bring a claim. You must bring a lawsuit within the time period prescribed by the “statute of limitations.” The specific period of time depends on the nature of your claim and where the incident occurred.
In certain types of cases, you may also be obligated to notify the defendant of your claim earlier than the statute of limitations. For example, we regularly handle cases involving float plane or helicopter flights that were part of a cruise ship shore excursion, where the cruise ship contract requires that passengers give notice of a claim within six months of the incident.
Retaining an attorney as soon as possible also allows your attorney to more effectively handle your case. Airplane and helicopter crashes often have complex fact patterns and/or require extensive technical analysis. If you retain an attorney at the outset, your attorney can interview witnesses before their memories fade, assure that all forensic evidence is located and properly stored, and guide you through the process of dealing with medical expenses and insurance companies.
How much is my case worth?
This is a complex question that will depend on numerous factors. State law—and sometimes international treaties or federal statutes—dictates what damages you are entitled to. You are usually entitled to damages for past and future lost income, past and future medical expenses, and certain “general damages” including emotional injuries such as pain and suffering. Some states limit the amount you can recover for general damages and others do not.
Unfortunately, the amount of available insurance and assets of the defendants often plays an outsized role in how much you are able to recover. Plane and helicopter crash cases often cause extremely severe injuries or death, and the individuals and companies at fault do not always have sufficient assets or insurance coverage to fully compensate the victims. An experienced aviation attorney may be able to identify entities that are partially at fault for the crash that an attorney without aviation experience may not recognize, thus providing additional insurance to compensate the victim(s) of the crash.
How much does it cost to hire an attorney?
We handle the majority of our cases on a “contingency fee,” which is based on a percentage of our client’s recovery. This means we will not charge you any attorneys’ fees unless your case is successful. The percentage depends on the specifics of your case but is typically in the range of one-third to forty percent of the recovery. In larger aircraft crash cases where we represent numerous victims, we are sometimes able to reduce this fee.
Who can bring a lawsuit after someone dies in an aviation accident?
The surviving family members of a decedent are known as “beneficiaries” in a wrongful death or survival action. State law dictates which family members are entitled to recover what types of damages. However, in Washington, the personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate is the person who must bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the beneficiaries.
Why should we hire you?
We are the most experienced aviation accident law firm in the Northwest, and among the most experienced aviation accident firms in the nation. We have a proven record of large settlements and verdicts, but we are also small enough give personal attention to each case.
Learn more about our experience here.