Though they occur infrequently, commercial aviation accidents are typically very high profile. When crashes occur, lawsuits often arise where the negligence of others appears to be a contributing cause of the accident. The litigation surrounding airplane crashes is often complex
In an airplane crash not involving an airline, legal rules are usually very similar to those of an
automobile accident. Owners and operators of private aircraft are required to exercise ordinary
care when operating an aircraft.
Airline common carriers, on the other hand, are held to a higher standard of care.
If an airline crash involves a common carrier, the right to recover damages depends upon
whether the flight was domestic (within the United States) or international. International flights
and the domestic portions of international flights are covered by two international agreements,
the Warsaw Convention and the Montreal Protocol.
Under these international agreements, the airlines are held liable for passengers’ injuries. This
means that passengers on international flights and the domestic portions of international flights
need not prove negligence in order to recover damages if an airline accident occurs.