Cases involving military aircraft are especially challenging. The military may grant victims or their families only limited access to the evidence they need to prove their case. And if the victim is an active service member, he cannot sue the military at all. It doesn’t matter whether the crash was caused by poor aircraft design, shoddy maintenance, or air traffic control error. The service member’s claim against the military is barred by a legal rule known as the Feres Doctrine.
Like a civilian, the service member can, however, sue others who may have contributed to the crash. In some cases, that can include the manufacturer of the aircraft, or perhaps an outside contractor who repaired it. Identifying those parties and proving their role in the accident can be difficult. Even then the service member may have to overcome the “Government Contractor” defense.
The government will prepare a report of the military crash. It’s important for the victims to retain an aviation attorney to conduct an investigation that is independent of the military’s findings. The investigation should be started quickly before witnesses disperse and memories fade.
Special federal laws may apply to crashes involving military aircraft and each case is unique. But depending on the circumstances, civilians or service members who prove their claims for negligence or products liability are entitled to be compensated for:
Where the military crash caused the loss of life, surviving family members have the right to seek wrongful death damages. These may include loss of the family member’s future earnings, compensation for the loss of the support and guidance the loved one would have provided and, in some special cases, compensation for the emotional trauma the loved one suffered before passing.
At Danko Meredith Trial Lawyers, we know the challenges that military crash cases present. We’re not afraid of pursuing justice for military crash victims. Contact us for a free consultation about your case.