Our work as a Panama City personal injury attorney expands beyond automobile crashes to include a variety of other transportation accident cases. One particularly complex area of our practice is representing victims of Florida airplane crashes. While they occur less frequently than other forms of transportation accidents, plane crashes are especially likely to cause serious, catastrophic injury, even death.
This week, as reported by The News Herald, the National Transportation Safety Board released a final report on the July 9, 2011 plane crash that killed 7 members of a Niceville family. An earlier report focused on engine failure, but the NTSB's final investigation found the primary cause was pilot error. Specifically, the report cites the failure to maintain control of the craft during a single-engine approach, as well as the failure to utilize a proper traffic pattern for such a landing. The NTSB did list the total loss of power from the right engine as a contributing factor, noting the issue stemmed from a fatigue failure of the cam gear in that engine.
Frank Teutenberg had logged over 1,000 hours airtime prior to taking the pilot's seat in a Cessna 421C to fly his wife and 5 of their children home from a family reunion in St. Louis. Per the official report, he was operating at around 21,000 feet about 2 hours after takeoff when he called in an emergency, citing problems with the plane's right engine. A few minutes later, he radioed in to say he had shut down the right engine and indicated that he was preparing to land at the Demopolis Municipal Airport in Alabama, but did not expect to need any assistance once on the ground. An investigation after the crash blamed the engine failure on the fracture of one of the camshaft's gear teeth, which caused it to stop rotating. Although standard procedure for landing the Cessna 421C involves "excessive altitude" on the approach, radar showed the craft was only at 600 feet when it was three miles from the runway. The NTSB believes the plane was nearing a final approach when it rolled and hit trees. The crash, which occurred less than a mile from the runway, sparked a large fire in the cockpit and main cabin as well as a blaze on the left wing. Due to the fire, the NTSB could not comment on the survivability of the crash itself. Fred Teutenberg, his wife Terresa, and their children, Will, Brandon, Ellie, Peyton, and Emma died in the accident. Terresa's older daughter was not on board.
Crashes can result from a range of causes, including pilot error, operator fatigue, mechanical failure, and maintenance issues. Weather can be a factor, but a claim may exist if the pilot or airline failed to obey industry rules and regulations relating to inclement conditions. Representing victims of aviation accidents requires specialized knowledge of both state and federal aviation law.
This set of laws covers airplane crashes as well as other accidents that may occur onboard an aircraft vessel. Serving as counsel in these cases also requires an attorney who is able to work side-by-side with experts in the aviation arena to interpret reports, understand industry standards, and explain complex matters to a judge and/or jury.
Our firm is committed to investing the time necessary to help aviation accident clients recover money damages in Florida's civil courts. If you have been injured or lost a loved one in an air travel accident, please call our Panama City aviation accident attorney for a free consultation.