Airplane And Aviation Crashes

Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner helps victims of airplane accidents recover compensation for their injuries and losses.

While large airline disasters are uncommon, the tragedy they cause is extensive. Smaller airplane crashes, however, are much more common than most people realize.

Experienced in handling aircraft litigation, our Houston, Texas, airplane accident attorneys are prepared to handle airplane accident cases involving single-engine planes, multi-engine planes, turbo prop planes, chartered jets, helicopters, and large commercial airplane crashes.

Free consultation: To learn more about how we can help you, contact our office online or call (713) 222-7211 (toll free 713-222-7211).

Understanding Liability In Airplane Crash Cases

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is responsible for investigating aviation accidents in the United States as well as accidents in foreign countries that involve U.S. airlines. The NTSB’s responsibility is to provide a probable cause for airplane accidents. This is not necessarily sufficient to prove legal liability.

Our airplane crash attorneys have significant experience using the NTSB’s probable cause finding as a basis for creating legal liability. Because airplane accident litigation is as complex as it is expensive, it is of the utmost importance to hire a personal injury law firm with the proven skill, experience and resources to successfully resolve complicated cases where more than one party may be at fault.

Our lawyers have a comprehensive understanding of Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules that govern commercial, charter and private aviation (including Part 135 and Part 91). Additionally, our firm has experience dealing with the extensive documentation necessary to establish liability for airplane crashes beyond the probable cause finding of the NTSB.

  • Helicopter Crashes
    • In helicopter crash cases, multiple parties may be deemed legally responsible. The owner and operator of the helicopter could be liable in addition to:
      • Manufacturers
      • Maintenance suppliers
      • The federal government

      Did Your Helicopter Crash Occur in the Gulf?.

      There are thousands of offshore installments in the Gulf of Mexico, which are often served by helicopter taxis. In accidents involving offshore workers, there could be maritime law ramifications. If you are an offshore worker who has been injured in a helicopter crash, we can handle all aspects of your case, including maritime and Jones Act claims.

  • A Sampling of Our Aviation Litigation Experience
    • Our firm has substantial experience handling and litigating aircraft cases. From the days of the Braniff Airways tragedies to military aircraft crashes and recent airline disasters, our firm has been consistently involved.Braniff Electra Airplane Disasters.Our attorneys handled the Braniff Electra airplane disasters occurring on separate dates over Buffalo, Texas, and Dawson, Texas. We litigated these Texas aircraft disasters against Braniff Airways and the manufacturer of the plane and engines in question in Houston, Texas. These tragedies involved the separation of the wings from the body of the plane, resulting in fatalities for all passengers.KODA Bird Helicopter Crash.Another case tried by our firm involved the fatality of a Houston-based helicopter news service pilot employed by radio station KODA. Our firm represented his widow and family in this product liability case against the manufacturer of the helicopter. The news service helicopter was known as the KODA Bird.Military Aircraft Lawsuits.We have also handled claims regarding military aircraft manufactured by McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis, Missouri. We have handled three cases involving fatal military aircraft crashes, RF4s, caused by defectively designed and manufactured plane equipment. These included:
      • A defective hydraulic system on a single-engine plane that caused flap failure during a night approach at Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin, Texas.
      • A product liability case in which a wing separated from the body of the aircraft. It was determined that a manufacturing defect and failure to properly chamfer and level the wing bolts contributed to the crash.
      • Electrical failure that produced an in-flight fire

      Private Plane Crashes.

      Our firm has also been involved in numerous private plane crashes involving pilot error, flight fires and clear product liability failures with various defective flight systems. These cases have included faulty and defective interior siding, seats, seat belts, flammable interior material and coverings, and general pilot error.

      Several years ago, we handled litigation against Hawaiian Airlines in which a commuter plane, due to pilot error, crashed into a mountain in Hawaii. We had complaints regarding the pilot’s qualifications, background, training, history, etc. The plane was found in the mountains, with all passengers and crew listed as fatalities.

      Recently, we handled aircraft litigation involving a fatal Swiss Air Boeing crash in Nova Scotia, Canada, and a private plane disaster in Eagle County, Colorado, involving three family deaths due to pilot error.

The Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 Crash

On March 11, 2019, Ethopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed minutes into flight, killing all 157 on board.

The plane was a Boeing 737 MAX 8. This was not the first crash involving this type of aircraft. In October 2018, a Lion Air flight crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 189 on board.

Our attorneys represent victims of these disasters. If you have lost a loved one on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, please contact us to find out how we can help you.


Building a successful case after an aviation crash is significantly more complex than a car accident or other more common types of personal injury accidents. They involve severe damage and obscure evidence. Therefore, choosing a well-established law firm is essential.

Abraham Watkins has been helping personal injury victims and their families for more than 70 years, making us one of the longest-serving law firms in the state. During this time, we have established a strong team, a stellar reputation, and a wealth of connections and resources that benefit our clients.

Your aviation accident attorney will explore all possible avenues to compensation to maximize the amount you could receive. We are strong negotiations and fierce litigators and will be prepared to stand for you in a trial if necessary.


In 2022 in the United States, there were six fatal air accidents, claiming 174 lives. Although aviation accidents are infrequent, they are never acceptable, considering that around 80% of them are due to human error.

The most common causes of aircraft accidents are:

  • Human Error – The majority of aircraft accidents are caused by human error, such as misjudging weather, failure to follow proper take-off or landing procedures, missed runways, excessive landing speed, navigation mistakes, dangerous miscalculations, and failure to refuel.
  • Bad Weather – Aviation accidents are often caused by bad weather. Although a pilot or aviation company cannot control bad weather, they can be liable if they reasonably should have known that the weather could be a risk. Perhaps they failed to check the weather, obey proper procedures, or underestimated the dangers.
  • Equipment Malfunction – Another common cause of airline accidents is equipment malfunction, such as engine failure. When this happens, a part manufacturer could be at fault for the defect, or the owner of the plane could be at fault if they failed to properly maintain the aircraft.
  • Other Causes – Some less common causes include ground crew error, improper cargo loader, passenger negligence or intent to harm, in-flight fires, air traffic control errors, runway obstructions, and terrorist activity.


Establishing who is liable for an aviation accident is often a complex process. Our aviation accident attorneys will work with authorities to investigate the accident and prove fault so that you can be compensated for your damages.

Often, more than one party contributes to the cause of aviation accidents. Liability could be shared between a pilot, the owner of the aircraft, the loading company, and/or the equipment manufacturer. The shared fault often results in higher compensation for victims, and so it is important that you have the support of an attorney who will explore all avenues to compensation.

At Abraham Watkins, we will investigate your claim fully and will explore all potential liabilities. We will then help you to demonstrate to insurance companies or a Judge how the accident happened, which parties are liable, the degree to which each potential party is at fault, and therefore, what percentage of your settlement they are liable for.


Aviation injury victims and their families are often left with extensive damages. Injuries can be severe, leading to high medical expenses that even the most comprehensive medical insurance policy will not cover. When paired with lost income, this can cause turmoil for families who are already dealing with a traumatic event.

The mental trauma of these types of accidents must also be a big consideration when determining what compensation victims are owed. An airplane accident is likely to cause long-lasting trauma from the event itself as well as the resulting injuries, which often leave life-long scars.

Your airplane crash attorney will investigate your case to determine the value of your damages. They will use this to fight for a settlement that is reflective of their experiences. The damages that could be included in your settlement include the following:


All medical expenses should be considered in your settlement, including hospital bills, medical equipment, prescription costs, and more. Whether you are claiming compensation for yourself or a loved one who has died or can no longer claim for themselves, all of your medical expenses should be covered.

If the accident has resulted in ongoing or life-long injuries such as severe burns, brain damage, or lost limbs, then you should also be compensated for the future costs of treatment. Determining what your future costs are likely to often require the help of a medical professional who may provide testimony on your behalf.

At Abraham Watkins, we have close working relationships with a range of experts that can help to establish the facts of your case, including medical professionals and accident reconstruction specialists.


After an airplane crash, victims and their families are often required to take time away from work to recover. All lost income should be considered in your settlement. If your injuries are ongoing, then you should also be compensated for the loss of earning capacity. Or, if you lost a loved one in an airplane accident, then you could be compensated for lost income to your family household.


Non-economic damages are designed to compensate victims for their intangible losses. They could include:

  • Pain and suffering;
  • Emotional anguish;
  • Mental trauma;
  • Changes to the way you live your life;
  • Loss of enjoyment;
  • Loss of companionship.

These types of damages can be difficult to establish. However, an experienced attorney will know how to calculate them in a way that is difficult to contest. Non-economic damages often make up the largest percentage of your aircraft negligence settlement when you have high-quality legal representation.


In Texas, surviving family members may be eligible for damages for the wrongful death of a loved one. Parents, children, or a spouse may be able to file a wrongful death claim which could compensate them for things such as funeral expenses, loss of consortium, and lost income to a family household.

At Abraham Watkins, we understand that no amount of money can begin to heal the grief of losing a loved one. However, an airplane accident lawyer will dedicate themselves to your case so that you do not have to deal with the legal process. We will fight to ensure that you are not left suffering financially because of the negligent actions of another party.


Aviation law is highly complex, which can make establishing liability a difficult process. Fortunately, there are also laws in place to help protect victims.

The Montreal Convention of 1999 established strict liability for damages up to $100,000, which means that it is not always necessary to prove negligence. This can make claiming compensation a more straightforward and faster process for victims.

At Abraham Watkins, we will fight for a quick settlement where possible. However, if this is insufficient to cover all of your damages, we will also be prepared to go the distance and do whatever it takes to secure justice. We will be prepared to take large airlines and their legal teams to trial if necessary to secure the compensation you deserve.


Our law firm has substantial experience handling aircraft accidents, including the Braniff Airways tragedies, military aircraft crashes, and other more recent airline disasters. We have been consistently involved in incidents involving aircraft for several decades.

Some of the cases that we have been involved in include the following:

  • Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 – On March 11, 2019, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed, killing all 157 on board. The plane was a Boeing 737 MAX 8. Unfortunately, this was not the first crash involving this type of aircraft. We represented the victim’s families of this fatal tragedy.
  • Braniff Electra Airplane Disasters – Our attorneys litigated on behalf of family members who lost loved ones in the Braniff Electra airplane disasters. These strategies involved manufacturer negligence which caused the wings to separate from the body of the plane.
  • KODA Bird Helicopter Crash – Our attorneys litigated on behalf of the family of a Houston-based helicopter news service pilot employed by radio station KODA. This case involved a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the helicopter.
  • Military Aircraft Lawsuits – Our firm has been involved in several cases involving military aircraft manufactured by McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis, Missouri, including three fatal crashes as a result of defective equipment.
  • Private Plane Crashes – Our attorneys have helped numerous victims of private plane crashes and their families including cases involving product liability and pilot error.
  • Hawaiian Airlines – We litigated on behalf of families who lost loved ones in a case where a pilot crashed into a mountain in Hawaii. There were questions regarding the pilot’s background and qualifications.
  • Swiss Air Boeing – More recently, we helped families who lost loved ones in a Swiss Air Boeing crash in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Aviation Accident FAQs

  • How much money do you get for surviving a plane crash?

How much you receive after a plane crash will depend upon many factors, most notably the extent of your injuries, and the quality of your representation. When you contact Abraham Watkins for a free consultation, we can review your case and give you a rough idea of how much you could receive

  • Who is liable for a plane crash?

There are often multiple parties responsible for a plane crash. Liable parties could include the pilot, parts manufacturer, airline, etc. Your attorney from Abraham Watkins will explore all avenues to compensation, which could involve seeking compensation from multiple parties.

  • Can I claim compensation for a helicopter crash?

Regardless of whether you suffered an airplane or helicopter crash, or any other type of aviation accident, we can help. Contact us today to find out if you could have a valid claim for compensation.

  • How long does an aviation accident case take?

Every claim is different, and how long your case takes will depend on the severity of your injuries, how clear the liability is, and whether litigation is necessary. Many cases will be over in less than a year, while others could take longer.


Aviation crash investigation is a large undertaking and requires the help of a law firm with the experience and resources necessary to handle these types of cases. Your attorney from Abraham Watkins will help you understand your legal rights and will investigate the cause of the crash, who is responsible, who you can sue, and what your damages are worth.

We will protect your rights and strive for just compensation regardless of whether you are an aircraft crash survivor or the family member of someone who has been seriously injured or killed in a crash.

We will gather evidence, negotiate a settlement with an insurance company, or fight at trial if necessary. We will do whatever it takes to secure justice for you and your family.

Arrange a free consultation with one of our aviation accident attorneys at 713-535-9319.

Free Consultation

We offer a free consultation to prospective clients. If you have been injured and wish to speak to one of our attorneys in a no-cost consultation, please call us at (713) 222-7211. or toll free at 713-222-7211

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