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vanHorck
21st Oct 2008, 11:09
Most of us will have heard, or been around a fatal aviation accident where litigation follows to claim damages from either manufacturer or maintenance or FBO.

There are lawyers around who work on no cure no claim basis or at the very least make a strong case for litigation just so that they can earn money for the family but also themselves, perhaps against the pilot s wishes.

It has puzzled me for a long time. Do i wish my relatives to sue my maintenance or the manufacturer (I fly a 1995 piper) in case i m killed in an accident, and if so in what circumstances.

I trust my plane as well as my maintenance team. Even if they made a mistake, which contributed to the accident, I would not like them to be sued, I would just want them and the rest of the world to learn from my accident.

Only if their mistake was the single prime cause of the accident, and the mistake was the result of consistent gross negligence could i accept such litigation.

As I know them as not being consistently grossly negligent I think it would be unlikely I would want them sued.

Should we put in writing our wishes about this serious issue, so that our next of kin can take our wishes into acount, for the love of our hobby?

dirkdj
21st Oct 2008, 11:40
In the end it is us paying for all of this. Recently I spoke to the lawyer representing a manufacturer in the Ostend air show crash of 10? years ago. The pilot made a very serious error and crashed his aircraft in the public causing many fatalities and wounded. Why are the lawyers suing Lycoming for this crash? Nothing was wrong with the engine at all, major pilot error. And, this isn't the US of A.

On the other hand, the victims of this horrible accident are still waiting for compensation.

IO540
21st Oct 2008, 12:17
vanHorcks - you can put what you want in your Will, but I don't know if such a request would be binding on your relatives.

dirkdj - maybe they are suing them for the same reason so many people sue who they can: to get an out of court payoff. Justice doesn't come into it. Most companies will settle at 10k-20k with anybody who goes after them, because engaging a barrister costs that much just to get started. Wasn't the pilot in this case insured?

Genghis the Engineer
21st Oct 2008, 17:44
It's all rather unsavoury of-course, but...

... where operators, manufacturs, pilots have liability insurance...

... it's the court which decides liability so that this can pay out.


No insurance company is likely to pay out in the case of any third party injury or damage without court action.

So the best way to stop your relatives taking such action, is to have very good insurance on your own life, so that they feel no need to.

G

englishal
21st Oct 2008, 18:18
My Sis-in-law represented the family who sued a flying school when several members of the family died in a sad accident. The basis for suing the school was that they employed the instructor and that the FI was to blame in part.....Not sure how it turned out.

I'd like to believe that I'd only sue if someone was clearly negligent and CAUSED the problem.....I would sue a maintenance organisation if they, for example, forgot to tighten the head bolts properly or something along those lines.

A friend of mine who had his car written off by another driver got 10k out of court for "whiplash" (yea right!). I can see the temptation.....

PompeyPaul
21st Oct 2008, 19:38
So the best way to stop your relatives taking such action, is to have very good insurance on your own life, so that they feel no need to.Although good insurance will help you should still be prepared to get lawyers involved and go to court. Whenever a claim arises for more than a few hundred quid the insurer will do their level best to avoid paying out. No matter how morally or legally correct the claimant is.

robin
21st Oct 2008, 19:43
.. the classic was Graham Hill's incident where the insurers refused to pay out.

Recently (and I got the name wrong), it was reported that a rally driver had a fatal helicopter crash when his licence was technically expired. It would be interesting to know if the insurers refused to pay out in that case.

I have a friend who was involved in an incident some time ago, but, although they expected to be compensated for their injuries, the insurers insisted that the pilot was sued so as to 'mitigate the loss'......

IO540
21st Oct 2008, 19:59
From doing some noseing around this, I think that what typically happens is this:

Insurers pay out to the named-insured pretty rapidly and without much (or any) argument. This is certainly my own experience following a prop strike - they could not have been better.

They also pay out (again to the named insured) if the pilot does something really stupid but not in itself clearly illegal, like departing under OVC006, VFR, and then entering cloud, losing control and killing himself. Or worse things even.

What they don't pay out on is when the flight itself was illegal even before it got off the ground, due to duff paperwork, e.g. no CofA, "obviously" unairworthy (though that one has to be pretty serious), no/expired pilot license, no/expired medical, incompatible paperwork (e.g. FAA standalone PPL but the medical was not an FAA one), a CAA instructional flight in which the instructor is not capable of being PIC (ANO article 36), etc.

Insurers don't pay out to 3rd parties (not named insured) unless they are forced to, or feel it is not worth a fight.

It is certainly true that successful businessmen tend to regard writing a cheque (not too far into 5 digits) as a reasonable way to get some hassle off their back regardless of any justice involved (and many ex employees, and nowadays also the Inland Revenue, play heavily on this) but I don't know whether insurance companies do the same. I do know some do, in the employment arena; a friend of mine has just been ordered by his insurer to pay off an employee with 26k despite the employee having been sacked for a crude expenses fraud. I also know of some large companies who now fight each and every claim regardless of cost and it is paying off in a huge reduction of frivolous claims.

The Graham Hill report can be found here (http://www.aaib.dft.gov.uk/publications/formal_reports/14_1976__n6645y.cfm) and while it doesn't discuss insurance, it appears certain they didn't pay out because the plane had been de-registered from the USA but had never been re-registered elsewhere - a massive and truly bizzare oversight by a man with unlimited funds who should have been on top of this kind of relative trivia.

Pace
29th Oct 2008, 12:44
Basically people will sue where they feel they can get the money from not especially from the guilty party.

I am not sure what happens with regards to the pilot whether the accident is fatal or not.

hence why I put my aviation interests through a limited company?
It is only too easy for a pilot to overlook a technicality which allows an insurance company to avoid payment. Then you the pilot and your assets become the target.

It maybe ok if you rent or fly around in aircraft costing maybe 20000 but in my case I fly aircraft going into the Millions and that has always been a worry. How do you protect yourself and your dependants in such an eventuality?

I know of a pilot who was sued successfully for 800,000. he was not a wealthy man but to this day his home is not in his name and he doesnt even hold a credit card or bank account.

Pace

mm_flynn
29th Oct 2008, 15:39
IO,


... they don't pay out on is when the flight itself was illegal even before it got off the ground, due to duff paperwork, e.g. no CofA, "obviously" unairworthy (though that one has to be pretty serious), no/expired pilot license, no/expired medical, incompatible paperwork (e.g. FAA standalone PPL but the medical was not an FAA one), a CAA instructional flight in which the instructor is not capable of being PIC (ANO article 36), etc.

I have been trying to find an example of a private individual's insurer not pay out due to a technically illegal flight. By 'technically illegal' I mean, the pilot believed he provided truthful information to the insurer but through mis-understanding or oversight was not legal (i.e. lapsed medical, incompatible paperwork, missed 100 hour check, etc.). So far all of the examples I could find involve gross illegalities or substantial misrepresentations to the insurer (like not registering an aircraft, selling an aircraft to an other entity and forgetting to mention that to your insurer, claiming to be IR current with no check ride for several years, etc.)

JEM60
29th Oct 2008, 17:34
Robin, I suspect that the Flying Rally Driver's helicopter accident enquiry is still on-going. Like you, I will be very interested in the result, given the licence infringement. If the insurers don't pay up, it will, unfortunately, fall to his estate [presumably his parents] to pay out, and in this case it will be massive, because I believe he had some teenage sons of a friend of his with him,.They sadly died also.
In the case of Graham Hill, his widow, Bette Hill, lost just about everything, because there were at least five other people on board. She was, at one time, living in a semi-detached house in Hertfordshire. Damon Hill said that the really good thing about being successful was that he was able to return virtually everything to her.
Graham was a lovely man, who I met a couple of times, and his son is much the same.

Keygrip
29th Oct 2008, 17:50
I got this wrong when rushing by - can somebody tidy it and decide whether to put the rest of it back?

=^..^=



Done :ok:

Duck

(I was bored)

Miles Gustaph
31st Oct 2008, 23:51
Flynn,
There are a few, a lot actually, PM me if you want to talk it through

747 jock
1st Nov 2008, 00:48
it was reported that a rally driver had a fatal helicopter crash when his licence was technically expired.

What exactly does "technically expired" mean?

It was either valid, or invalid. Even if it was a minor paperwork problem, if the paperwork showed it had expired, that means that unless there was something to prove otherwise, it had expired.

Anyone who has anything to do with air law in the UK knows that the legal requirements are very strict, and any "technicality" should be sorted long before it becomes a problem.