South Africa has thankfully had a spotless domestic aviation accident record for large commercial passenger planes since 1994. However, according to a News24 article, in the decade spanning 2005 to 2015, there were 318 aviation related injuries and 332 fatalities reported: an average of 32 deaths a year. The South African Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) stated that the 2017/2018 financial year had 75 reported accidents.

These unfortunate accidents took place predominantly with fixed wing airplanes and helicopters but also with microlights, gyrocopters, gliders, hot air balloons, parachutes and para-gliders.

If you were injured or a family member has died in an aviation accident that was a result of someone else’s negligence, or for which another party carries the liability, you may be able to claim for compensation.

What causes aviation accidents?

Statistics show that the causes of aviation accidents are, for example, due to pilot error, mechanical failure, bad weather, sabotage or human error by an air traffic controller or maintenance engineer.

What is strict liability?

To be liable is to be legally responsible and strict liability is when this responsibility does not depend on proving actual negligence or an intent to harm.

The theory of strict liability was created to make it easier to sue manufacturers for a defect by focusing on the safety of the product rather than the conduct of the person using the product.

If mechanical problems with an aircraft contribute to an accident, the manufacturer of the aircraft (or the manufacturer of a component part) may share the legal blame for a crash under this theory of strict liability.

From whom can I claim compensation?

Depending on the nature of the accident, you may be able to claim from the aircraft owner or airline, the aircraft manufacturer or key part manufacturer, the aircraft maintenance provider, airport operators or the government if there is negligence by air traffic controllers, for example.

How long do I have to claim?

Victims or their families have three years from the date of the accident to submit a claim.

What if the accident occurred outside South Africa’s borders?

For accidents that occur outside of the country’s borders, it is best to consult with an experienced international aviation attorney that would be familiar with the law in that country and what the best procedure would be to follow. Our attorneys at Elmarié de Vos Inc are experienced with dealing with local incidents as well as cross-border accidents.

What to do if you have been in an aviation accident

In the event of an aviation accident, it is important in the case of light aircraft and helicopters to get away from the craft due to the risk of fire. Secondly, remain calm and assess your medical needs and call emergency services to assist.

Take photos and document as much of the crash scene as possible from every angle. Write down as many details as you can such as time, date, location, and other important details of the accident. Get contact details of any witnesses. Do not discuss the case with anyone before consulting with an attorney.

Contact an expert aviation accident attorney

Aviation cases are highly complex and it is strongly advised that you get legal help if you think you have a claim. Contact a personal injury attorney that specialises in flying accidents as soon as possible so that they can review your case and begin gathering evidence.

At Elmarié de Vos Inc, our experienced team can expertly navigate eye witnesses, evidence and wreckage to help you build a strong case. We operate on a contingency basis which means that if there is no win for you, there is no fee from us. Let us help you get satisfactory compensation for your injuries and loss of income.

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The information on these web pages is provided for general information purposes and is not intended to be stand-alone legal advice. Always consult a suitably qualified attorney for individual advice regarding your legal matter.