Investigation Continues Into Causes of Fatal Airplane Accident - Elliott & Smith Law Firm

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Jan 24

Investigation Continues Into Causes of Fatal Airplane Accident

Officials continue to investigate the reasons behind a recent Arkansas-bound fatal airplane accident that claimed the lives of the two individuals on board.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette covered the story in a January 1, 2020 article, stating that a federal investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) arrived to assist local authorities. What officials do know is that the aircraft crashed right after taking off, clipping treetops beyond the airport runway before it nosedived to the ground.

Efforts to determine the causes of the airplane crash may be hampered by the fact that the single-engine craft did not have a black box on it to track in-flight details.

As such, officials will not have access to electronic flight data recorder information, including altitude, position, speed, and pilot conversations. An NTSB spokesperson said that the scenario is common for smaller planes, and that some details may be recoverable through cellphones, tablets, GPS units, and other portable devices. It did not appear that wind, fog, rain, or other weather conditions were a factor.

J. Timothy Smith, a founding partner at Elliott & Smith Law Firm in Fayetteville, AR, noted that some of the more common causes of aviation accidents could be behind the recent crash.

“Most of the time, human error is to blame. It’s easy to point the finger at the pilot, and it’s true that the operator’s conduct is often a factor. But there may be other negligent parties involved, and their actions could be a cause – even when they’re not on board the aircraft.” Mr. Smith pointed out a few examples, such as:

  • Mechanics who do not properly make repairs to a plane’s equipment, components, and systems;
  • Ground crew that inspected the craft before departure;
  • Air traffic controllers, which are responsible for directing taxiing, movement on the ground, and issuing landing and takeoff instructions to pilots;
  • Airport designers and developers who created an inherently dangerous layout of runways; and,
  • Many others

Mr. Smith also mentioned another potential party.

“Though it’s not the case here, when a plane owned by or operated through another entity, aviation accident victims may be able to pursue the individual or company. There’s a legal concept called respondeat superior, which holds the principal accountable for an agent’s negligence.”

The doctrine states that when the agent is performing tasks at the direction of the principal, it’s possible to see monetary damages from the principal. It is frequently applied when accidents stem from an employer-employee relationship.

Contact Elliott & Smith Law Firm today to discuss your case.