What To Do After an Accident

Being involved in an aviation accident is a traumatic experience, and knowing what to do in the days following the accident may be extremely difficult, considering the confusion and turmoil that often surrounds the news of an airplane crash, including intrusive media scrutiny of the survivors. Representatives of various government agencies may be contacting the victims, and some may be able to offer assistance, but understanding exactly what these government resources can and cannot do for the accident victim is not always clear.

In addition to making sure your health needs are covered, the single most important step one can take is to contact a law firm which has successfully handled aviation accident cases and possesses the resources to conduct a thorough investigation and carefully prepare a case for trial. Relying on government agencies or failing to address the issue of a financial recovery can result in the loss of important evidence lost or the unintentional waiver of essential rights.

The Role of NTSB

That National Transportation Safety Board conducts an extensive investigation of aviation accidents and issues a report detailing the cause or causes of the accident. However, it would be unwise to rely solely on the NTSB report. First of all, the NTSB may take months to issue its report, and in some cases a year or more. Meanwhile, the statute of limitations continues to run. The statute of limitations sets out a timeframe within which a lawsuit may be filed after an accident; if this deadline is missed, an injured party may be forever barred from bringing suit and recovering for the injuries he or she has suffered. In most cases of personal injury or wrongful death in California, a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the accident. Allowing the statute of limitations to run without taking any action can prove disastrous to an otherwise strong case.

Another reason not to rely solely on the NTSB report is that it is not a report which is prepared in contemplation of litigation in court. NTSB reports are a mix of fact and opinion, and sorting out one from the other can be difficult. Because of this, NTSB reports are often inadmissible as evidence in civil court.

Finally, while the NTSB may collect and preserve physical evidence of the crash, such as pieces of the wreckage and the flight voice and data recorders, there are many other types of evidence which will be important in a civil action, such as testimony of witnesses at the scene, other passengers, and the physical landscape of the crash site. Physical land patterns and witness memories fade over time and may be unavailable a year after the accident. This type of evidence can be essential to a successful lawsuit, but since a lawsuit is not the focus of the NTSB, they may neglect to ask the same questions or collect the same type of documentary evidence that an experienced trial attorney would.

Seek Experienced Legal Representation

 A seasoned attorney will immediately begin to collect important information about the accident, documenting the crash site and plaintiff injuries, and recording testimony of witnesses. This ensures that if litigation proves necessary, the appropriate questions have been asked, and the relevant evidence has been preserved.

With over 60 years of experience in aviation accident cases, we have extensive experience in conducting aviation accident investigations and an established network of consultants we can access to provide the right type of support in any particular situation. Contact Magaña, Cathcart & McCarthy as soon as possible after an aviation accident to preserve and protect your rights.

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