Understanding Aviation Product Liability

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Aviation product liability focuses on where the pilot of the aircraft has liability and where the manufacturer of the aviation product picks up liability. The pilot is responsible for his or her own training and how it affects the operation of an aircraft, regardless of circumstances and environment. The manufacturer of the aviation product is responsible for all mechanical aspects of the product; most specifically should any item of the aviation product fail. The two should always be separated when trying to determine who was at fault for the result of a crash or similar accident.

Who was at Fault?

Determining who is liable during the failing of an aviation product must be determined based on whether the product itself was defective or if the accident was due to negligence on the part of the pilot or crew/maintenance. A test and analysis will be conducted in order to determine if the aviation product performed as the manufacturer stated it would. If it is determined that the aviation product did not meet standards or what the manufacturer stated it would, and the pilot was not at fault, liability will fall onto the manufacturer.

The Types of Product Liability

Upon determining the manufacturer was responsible, it then falls upon the plaintiff to determine how the defect occurred. This falls into several methods which includes determining if the product was defective while being operated, that it was somehow the cause of the accident, and that the pilot operated the aviation product in a responsible manner according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. The determination of liability in this case will fall upon these aforementioned areas and if the pilot is not at fault in any of these. If the pilot is responsible for any of the three aspects, liability is shared.

In addition, these three defects must be determined:

  • Design
  • Manufacture
  • Failure to Warn

Design defects are determined if there was a flaw within the design itself and whether or not the manufacturer allowed the design to come into production whether knowable or not. If at any point during the manufacturing process a flaw was created, the manufacturer is solely responsible for the process. Although some products are not able to have all potential risks removed from their creation and operation, if the manufacturer fails to warn potential operators of this risk, the manufacturer is also responsible.

Aviation product liability is a situation which usually falls onto a sad note because an operator or passenger may have been injured during the incident. Determining liability may be a painful process, especially if it is the family of a victim who is trying to determine who is liable. However, proper liability will need to be assigned in order to determine what occurred and whether or not the manufacturer or operator/pilot is responsible for the accident which occurred, and to help ease the burdens of all parties involved.

Contact an Aviation Attorney near you to find out more about your legal rights.