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Wrongful Death Actions Filed in Georgia after Fatal Plane Crash

A deadly Georgia airplane crash that occurred earlier this year may have lent itself to multiple lawsuits, according to the Augusta Chronicle. Investigation into the crash continues as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) attempts to determine what cause the February 20 incident. An independent federal agency, the NTSB is charged with determining the probable cause of each accident investigated and issuing safety recommendations designed specifically to prevent future accidents.

The lawsuits, which were filed in Fulton County Superior Court, come months after the crash, with family members of the deceased filing civil claims on September 9 against the city of Thomson, Georgia McDuffie County, the airport’s operators, Georgia Power and parent company, Southern Company, to name a few. On February 20 the estate was carrying five passengers, all Vein Guys employees, when the plane touched down, aborted its landing and clipped the top of a 60-foot-tall concrete utility pole as it went airborne. The right wing of the plane was severed, causing a fuel leak right before the plane landed in a fiery crash. The passengers perished, while the pilots escaped with injuries.

In aviation, a personal injury claim is typically filed when one or more parties are negligent in the operation and/or maintenance of the subject aircraft. A flight depends on the successful execution of multiple factors and can likewise be derailed by any number things including pilot error and mechanical defects. Because of the altitudes that airplanes hit, as well as their size, airplane accidents are usually fatal or result in debilitating and traumatic injury.

When it comes to such cases, personal injury attorneys know that one of the first questions asked is often one of liability. The most obvious candidate for liability is the airline or aircraft company that charged the injured passengers for its services. As common carriers, these commercial entities owe the highest duty of care to consumers. But there are also other, less obvious parties who may potentially share some responsibility – and deciding who to pursue (and likewise who can sue) has the potential to become a complicated issue. Strategically speaking, many airplane crash attorneys find it is better to err on the side of being overly inclusive.

There is quite a bit of community buzz because in the Georgia case, the plaintiffs seem to have filed an action against every potential defendant. The Daily Report (as reported in the Augusta Chronicle) indicates that, in addition to the previously named defendants, survivors of the deceased are also suing Milliken & Co., owner of the Kingsley Plant at the end of the runway that had granted easement for the power pole; Spirit Aviation, the airport’s operator; and The Sky’s The Limit doing business as Executive Shuttle, which was owned by Trammell and employed both pilots. Three suits also named as defendants the Pavilion Group and the executor of Dr. Steven Roth’s estate (the co-owner of Vein Guys), Mary Anne Roth, his widow. Roth was also a part of Pavilion Group LLC, the company that owned the Beechcraft 390 Premier 1 aircraft. Roth perished in the crash.

The tactic isn’t right for everyone, and there’s absolutely no guarantee that litigation will proceed successfully against each named party, but more than likely the survivors’ respective representation wanted to make sure that everything was covered in terms of foreseeable liability and possible recovery.

If you or a loved one is injured as a result of an aviation accident, it is best to seek the assistance of an attorney. This is especially true when considering the complexities associated with determining liability. A personal injury lawyer is best equipped to quickly assess your unique needs and pursue the appropriate parties.