While most Aviation Accidents are, to some extent, the result of pilot error, there are other factors that need to be considered. Due to the legal doctrine of “strict liability,” the manufacturer can be held liable if the presence of a defect can be proven to be the cause of damage or injury. Defects for which the manufacturer can be held liable can arise from three sources: defects in design, defects in manufacturing, and failure to provide proper warning. It must be kept in mind that liability laws vary from state to state.
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The manufacturer of a plane can be held accountable if the victim or their surviving family can prove that a defect in the aircraft or one of its parts caused the injury. In most aviation accident cases, both the pilot and plane manufacturer can be held accountable for a plane crash. These cases typically involve “comparative fault”, which is a legal term that refers to the decision the judge or jury must make in determining the percentage of liability assigned to each defendant. For instance, a pilot may be 30% responsible for losing control of a plane, but a manufacturer may be 70% liable for creating defective landing gear. A small number of states prohibit a plaintiff from recovering from a plane’s manufacturer if the pilot’s negligence factored into the crash. However, most jurisdictions use comparative fault and distribute liability among both defendants.