Despite a recent report in one of the nation’s top news papers detailing the surprising string of accident free years in commercial aviation, aviation lawyers have been kept busy by any number of legal and liability issues. It has been found in a recent study that commercial fights in the United States have gone two consecutive years without a related accidental death. This is the first time that in the history of United States aviation that this feat has occurred. However, the average aviation lawyer still must battle over certain safety and liability issues that have kept the need for such specialized lawyers in demand. These lawyers, while obviously not having to concern themselves with personal injury claims due to accidents in the previous years of relative safety, have still had their hands full with defining regulatory bodies and creating new and protective laws for consumers, bystanders, and workers.
While assigning liability in an accident and insuring that a claimant receives due process of law and proper compensation where deemed necessary is the primary task of an aviation lawyer, it is not the only task. These specialized lawyers must deal with a complicated set of government institutions at the state and local level, and may even have to deal with international regulatory bodies for large, commercial flights. These agencies, committees, and other regulatory bodies are largely created from case files brought through and prosecuted by lawyers. Just like criminal law, aviation law has been created by these vast networks of case files and court decisions. These regulatory bodies have sprung from these decisions. Creating these laws, therefore, dominates much of these attorneys’ time and energy even when there are few commercial accidents to prosecute.
Aviation attorneys are also employed to institute safety standards. Many of these attorneys are involved in, or used to be involved in, commercial or private aviation. Many are current or former pilots and enjoy private joy flights. They are, given their concurrent knowledge of law, uniquely qualified to institute and maintain safety standards. By providing this service, they are insuring that when you buy your ticket for your next flight, you can be guaranteed of certain standards. These include safe airplane design, fully functioning safety systems (such as lighted pathways, available exits, flotation devices, etc.), regular maintenance schedules, and age limits on old aircrafts. Without these basic guarantees commercial flying could be a dangerous practice. Once these safety guidelines are established, attorneys can then use these standards to prosecute those at fault during an accident and more easily assign liability to those at fault.
Even while the United States has had two consecutive years without a death associated with the commercial airline industry, the average aviation lawyer is still busy and in demand. Despite the fact that there have been no accidents to prosecute, these specialized lawyers still must maintain strict industry safety standards, thus insuring that the unprecedented string of safe and successful flights continue, and develop and fine tune the developing field of aviation litigation and law. Therefore, these particular lawyers are still heavily in demand.
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