Plane Crashes into House or Building
Every airplane accident can spell tragedy, but there is an extra element
when people on the ground are involved in these disasters. Those who go
about their business in the seeming safety of their homes never expect
a plane to crash into their living room. Planes crash into houses more
often than most people realize and certainly more often than the lenient
regulations in these accidents would imply. In our experience, after a
plane crashes into a house or building, the emotional, physical and financial consequences
are potentially as far reaching for those on the ground as those aboard
The legal options for the airplane passengers as well as those harmed on
the ground can be difficult to navigate, and discovering all the parties
responsible for these incidents can be more daunting than meets the eye.
Whether the victim is the pilot, passenger or a person on the ground that
is killed or injured in such an event, you will need a lawyer who is familiar
with the complexities of the investigation and litigation processes that
are necessary after planes crash into houses.
How Often Do Planes Crash Into Houses?
As with all air travel, accidents are not common, but they do happen to
hundreds of planes each year. However, there are certain factors that
tend to play a part in a large majority of cases where planes crash into houses.
Most planes crash into houses near airports. In the event a pilot cannot
make it to the nearest airport, most pilots will try to land their plane
in an empty stretch of land, such as a large grassy field or a clear roadway.
Whenever a plane is experiencing difficulties midair, an air traffic controller
(if one is available) will usually try to direct the struggling aircraft
to the nearest airstrip. This exposes the houses surrounding airports
to the possibility that a plane with mechanical difficulties can fall
short of the desired landing area and accidentally crash into a house.
It is important to note that houses around large, international airports
are mostly unaffected by these instances. This is because most of the
time when a plane crashes into a house, a
small plane, or general aviation aircraft, is involved. In fact, while the number
of large commercial airline crashes has decreased, the number of small
or general aviation plane crashes has remained largely unchanged over
It is becoming harder for private planes to take off and land at large
airports that are servicing commercial airlines, so these planes are generally
directed to small airports, often in the middle of residential areas.
Not all airports have control towers. Not all airports with control towers
are manned by air traffic controllers around the clock. Smaller airports
are not always certified to handle planes carrying 30 or more passengers.
This lack of certification also means that these airports are not required
to have a tower with staff to visually monitor, and separate, planes taking
off or landing, even when the pilots are required to fly by visual flight rules.
Smaller personal planes and helicopters are not required to carry insurance,
and neither are the maintenance facilities that service these small planes.
Private pilots are allowed to have fewer hours of in flight training under
their belt and the airplanes and
helicopters they fly are often left without many of the safety protocols and technology
that are standard for large passenger planes.
Take for example the homes surrounding the Santa Monica Municipal Airport.
This small airport has had 42 planes crash land within five miles of the
airport since the 1980s. Many people in the community have been petitioning
to close the airport for decades out of fear of further accidents damaging
their homes. And, Santa Monica Airport does have a control tower, but
it is not staffed around the clock.
Who is to Blame When Planes Crash Into Houses?
A plane usually crashes due to a number of factors. Our law firm has decades
of experience in ferreting out the true causes of these tragedies whether
it be related to aircraft maintenance, faulty plane design or aircraft
malfunction, pilot error or even air traffic controller negligence.
It is often hard to determine the party or parties at fault when planes
crash because so many of these issues can mask one another. Even NTSB
reports sometimes incorrectly determine the cause of an air crash. A
USA Today investigation found that many planes crashes which the NTSB originally claimed were
caused by pilot error, were determined in court to have been caused by
defective parts or poor design. This is why it is so important to have
a proper investigation done by an experienced aviation attorney. It is
often the case that the NTSB report is just the starting place for a thorough
investigation when it comes to small airplane or helicopter crashes.
In one of our most recent cases, a Beechcraft Bonanza crashed into a home
in Palm Coast, Florida, killing all three people on board. The potential
causes of the crash were not apparent until our firm took a closer look
at the incident. In this case, when the pilot reported a vibration in
his engine to air traffic control, the FAA air-traffic controller directed
him to an airport, which they said was only five miles away.
Our lawsuit, on behalf of the family of one of the deceased passengers,
argues that the airport the controller suggested was not the closest airport
since there was another airport available that was two miles closer. We
also contend that there were additional errors made by the controllers
who directed the pilot to fly farther away from the airport and perform
numerous turns, which caused the aircraft to lose precious altitude while
having insufficient engine power. Tragically, these events culminated
in the airplane crashing into a home less than a mile from the airport.
Hidden Issues After Planes Crash into Houses
Unlike larger airplanes, pilots of small planes that hold only a few passengers
are often not as thoroughly trained. They are not required to train as
long as pilots who fly for airlines before they are certified and they
have little to no oversight when it comes to plane maintenance or maintaining
Additionally, flying a plane is not treated like driving a car in the eyes
of federal regulators. This means that for small planes that are privately
operated, the pilot is not required to have insurance. When one of these
pilots makes an error that sends an aircraft into a nearby residence,
the homeowners can find themselves in a terrible situation.
With no, or minimum, insurance on the plane to cover the destruction of
the home, the homeowner might be left to cover the loss. Many homeowners’
insurance does not necessarily cover a loss caused by a plane crash. Often
times there are no clearly identifiable responsible parties to shoulder
the financial burden of the destruction of property, not to mention any
death or injury to persons in or near the home, resulting from such an event.
It is for these reasons, at least, that experienced aviation attorneys
should be consulted in an effort to determine if there actually is a responsible
party who should be held accountable for the losses.
Call (855) 948-5098 or contact us online to speak with our legal team.