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South Carolina Aviation Accident Injury Attorneys
Aggressive representation for airplane, airport, and aircraft accident victims in SC
Air travel is a modern marvel, and millions of people take to the skies every year to travel. While studies have proven that flying is safer than driving, and that you are less likely to suffer harm on flight than in a vehicle, there are still risks.
If you suffered an injury while in the air, on the tarmac, or in an airport, McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC is here to help. As leaders in complex litigation matters in South Carolina, we have the skills, resources, and experience you want on your side. Contact us today to get started.
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How Can We Help?
- What is an aviation accident?
- What kinds of aviation accidents do you handle?
- What are the leading causes of aviation accidents in South Carolina?
- What kinds of injury claims arise from airline and airport negligence?
- How long do I have to file an airline injury claim in South Carolina?
- What kinds of damages can I seek in an aviation lawsuit in South Carolina?
- Can I afford an aviation accident attorney?
- Do you have an aviation accident injury lawyer near me?
What is an aviation accident?
“Aviation” encompasses all things related to mechanical flight – commercial planes, helicopters, sea planes, etc. – and the industry around them. An aviation accident involves some element of that industry. It can run the gamut from a plane crash to an unsecured drink cart, to a fall down airstairs, to a failure to care for passengers properly mid-flight.
What kinds of aviation accidents do you handle?
McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips primarily represents clients in lawsuits against commercial airlines and airports, but also handles claims involving private planes such as corporate jets and air tours. We have represented injury victims in aviation accidents involving:
- Plane crashes, on land and in air
- Luggage injuries
- Drink cart injuries
- Hot liquid spills and food service injuries
- Failure to divert for adverse medical events
- Failure to appropriately care for passengers with disabilities or illnesses
- Turbulence-related injuries
- Seat belt and restraint-related defects
What you should know about plane crashes
When people hear the word “plane crash,” they often think of planes falling out of the sky, or colliding mid-air with another aircraft or object (like the side of a mountain or a flock of geese). While these types of collisions do happen, they are rare. According to Reuters, “The United States has not had a fatal U.S. passenger airline crash since February 2009 and one fatality due to a U.S. passenger airline accident in that period.”
Why does this matter? For two reasons:
- Plane crashes are more common for general aviation (GA) aircraft. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), “Most aviation deaths in 2020 took place during general aviation operations, where 332 were killed, compared to 414 the year before.”
- Not all plan crashes happen in the air. In fact, a plane “crash” can occur while taxiing, taking off, or landing. We have personally handled a plane crash case where the aircraft hit a lamppost.
In short, while “plane crashes” get a lot of attention, you are far more likely to sustain an injury onboard for almost any other reason.
Why airport injury claims are different
There are six airports in South Carolina that offer commercial flights. These are the airports you likely use to travel: Charleston International, Columbia Metropolitan, Florence Regional, Greenville-Spartanburg International, Hilton Head, and Myrle Beach International. These airports are largely owned by some combination of the State of South Carolina and the local cities they serve, though Charleston is unique in that it also serves the U.S. Air Force.
But these are not the only airports in South Carolina. There are
- Two reliever airports that offer some commercial flights, but mostly serve general aviation aircraft.
- 45 general aviation airports for public use.
- 15 privately owned airports that allow some commercial use
- Four airports for military use only.
There are different owners, operators, and managers for all of them. Sometimes South Carolina owns a piece; sometimes the federal government is in on the action. More than a dozen are privately owned. This means that if you get hurt in an airport, the liable parties can run from a negligent member of the janitorial team to the federal government of the United States – and that affects how, where, and when you file a claim.
If you are injured in an airport in South Carolina, we can still help. If you fell on an unsafe floor, were injured by a drunk or unruly passenger, or sustained injuries at the baggage claim, you should not have to shoulder the burden of your injuries alone. Make sure to contact us as quickly as possible, though, so you are not time-barred from collecting compensation you are entitled to receive.
A quick note about the Montreal Convention
Some aviation-related injuries may be covered under the Montreal Convention, an international treaty which establishes liability in the event of an injury or a death (as well as liability for damaged luggage and mobility equipment, and other harms). This treaty typically applies to passengers who are boarding, flying, or exiting an aircraft as part of international travel, but it could apply if you are in an airport because you have layovers, even if one or more of those layovers is in a domestic airport.
What are the leading causes of aviation accidents in South Carolina?
A leading cause of aviation accidents is negligence. Often, this negligence leads to catastrophic injuries for one or more passengers. Some common causes of accidents include:
- Pilot error or negligence, including failure to follow Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or NTSB regulations
- Air traffic controller error or negligence
- Defective aircraft parts
- Engine failure
- Mechanical failures
- Insufficient fueling
- Faulty design of the aircraft or its component parts
- Negligent screening practices (for employees or passengers)
- Unsecured overhead compartments
- Unsecured drink carts
- Slip and falls on airstairs
- Collisions with baggage haulers
Another leading cause of commercial airline accidents is bad weather. In fact, bad weather is a leading cause of all aviation accidents. Low visibility is particularly dangerous when it comes to landing a plane. In 2019, there were 40 accidents involving commercial airplanes; more than a quarter of them (11) occurred while the planes were landing. While no airline can control the weather – we once represented people who suffered injuries when lightning struck their plane – they may be liable in cases where they ignored weather reports, failed to properly de-ice the aircraft, or attempted an unsafe landing instead of diverting to a safer course. In some cases, air traffic control may also be liable for weather-related injuries.
Passenger violence is on the rise
A recent CNN report revealed that the FAA recorded close to 6,000 incident reports involving “unruly” passengers in 2021 – the worst year on record. The number of investigations into these incidents also increased exponentially. Per CNN, “From 1995 to 2020, an average of 182 investigations were initiated per year. In 2021, the FAA initiated 1,081 investigations – a 494% increase over the historic average of investigations.”
Passengers who physically harm other passengers or members of the flight crew can be criminally charged, but they can also he held liable for injuries through a civil claim. Filing a claim against the airline itself is possible, though it is a far more complicated task because most airlines enjoy a certain level of immunity from civil suits. We can help you chart the best path forward for your needs, based on the specific details of your case.
What kinds of injury claims arise from airline and airport negligence?
In a best-case scenario, an aviation accident will leave no one injured. Unfortunately, when injuries are caused by these types of incidents, they tend to be severe. Some of the more catastrophic injuries include:
In the most tragic of circumstances, a person can die because of in an aviation accident, or as a result of the injuries he or she sustains. In such cases, our South Carolina aviation accident attorneys can help you file a wrongful death claim to recover damages.
How long do I have to file an airline injury claim in South Carolina?
Generally speaking, you have three years to file a personal injury lawsuit in South Carolina. There are exceptions to this rule, however; certain claims may be tolled if the injury victim is a minor, whereas others may have a time limit of as little as six months. This is why it is crucial that you speak with a South Carolina aviation accident attorney as soon as you can. You do not want to be time barred from filing a lawsuit.
What kinds of damages can I seek in an aviation lawsuit in South Carolina?
Under South Carolina law, you are entitled to seek compensatory damages such as:
- Economic damages, which cover your injury-related expenses like medical bills, lost wages, and even property loss. In cases of wrongful death, you may also seek funeral and burial expenses.
- Non-economic damages, which include non-tangible harms such as pain and suffering, mental trauma, and loss of companionship.
In some cases, you may also be entitled to exemplary damages (also known as punitive damages). They aim to punish a wrongdoer for reckless behavior, while also serving as a deterrent for future bad behavior.
Can I afford an aviation accident attorney?
Yes, you can. McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips handles all aviation accident cases on contingency. That means that our fee is contingent upon us winning your trial or settling your case. It also means that we handle all related expenses of your case; you don’t need to pay us anything until after we win.
We also offer free initial consultations. It costs you nothing to call us and see what we can do to help you.
Do you have an aviation accident injury lawyer near me?
McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC is located at 1539 Health Care Drive in Rock Hill, SC. If you are too ill or injured to visit us, we can see you in the hospital or meet via telephone or video conference.
We also maintain offices in or near Charleston, Columbia, Myrtle Beach, and Greenville, and serve clients throughout the State of South Carolina in all 46 counties, including Sumter, Anderson, Orangeburg, Hilton Head, Aiken, and Spartanburg.
Injured in an aviation accident? Call today
McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC, puts people first. If you or your loved one sustained injuries in an aviation accident, we are here to help. To find out more about our services, or to schedule a free consultation, please call 803-327-7800 or fill out our contact form from any device. We handle all claims on a contingency fee basis.