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Devastating Illinois Plane Crash Illustrates Complexity of Aviation Law

Our Chicago personal injury attorneys were devastated to hear about the recent airplane crash that occurred in Crystal Lake, Illinois, last week. According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, four people were killed when the plane went down near the Northwest Chicago Suburb on November 26.

The single-engine plane crashed in a field in McHenry County, near the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 14 and Ridgefield Road. Officials said that four out-of-state residents were killed when the plane crashed, but at the time of the Tribune‘s report, the victims had not yet been identified. The McHenry County Deputy Coroner reported that the decedents appeared to be two men and two women, all of whom were over the age of 18. Fortunately no one on the ground was injured by the crash, but all four passengers were pronounced dead at the scene.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had no information as to the place from which the plane took off, or its ultimate destination. The FAA is the national aviation authority for the United States, and is an agency that regulates and oversees all aspects of aviation in the country. The FAA did, however, say that the aircraft’s pilot was operating under “Visual Flight Rules” and was not in touch with air traffic control.

When a pilot operates an airplane under Visual Flight Rules (VFR), it essentially means he or she is flying the plane under a set of regulations that are designed to allow a pilot to fly the plane based only on what the pilot can see out of the window of the cockpit. Under VFR, the weather must be clear and “better than basic VFR minimums,” as specified by the FAA – otherwise the pilot must use radio control or other flight instruments to guide the plane.

Visual Flight rules require that a pilot is able to see outside the window of the cockpit to navigate the aircraft and “see and avoid obstacles and other aircrafts.” Because they have chosen not to use outside help or devices to help fly the plane, pilots who fly under VFR assume responsibly for their flight. As per the Chicago Tribune‘s coverage of the story, the National Transportation Safety Board is heading an investigation to determine whether the rules of flight were followed, if the plane was properly maintained and registered, and if the pilot was in fact licensed to fly the plane.

Our Illinois personal injury lawyers have extensive experience handling the unique challenges and complexities of aviation law. Because Illinois airplane crash law is such a distinct field of practice, many attorneys rely on relationships with aviation experts and other industry personnel in order to understand the nuances of accidents, in order to best achieve justice for their clients. A successful outcome in aviation accident litigation requires an understanding of the all the various issues that arise when an aviation accident occurs.
Some of these factors include:
• Faulty Equipment • FAA Regulation Violations • Pilot Errors • Problems in the Design or Structure of an Aircraft • Flight Service Station Employee Negligence • Negligence in a Third Party Selection of a Carrier • Federal Air Traffic Controller Negligence
Interestingly, our Illinois personal injury attorneys won a $2.33 million settlement for the family of a pilot whose Cessna plane crashed due to a defective carburetor part – but this success could not have been achieved without our close, long-standing relationships with renowned experts in the field.

Aviation accidents are devastating, and the complexities involved in investigating the cause of these incidents make it an even more intricate field of law.

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