It’s not uncommon for three or four pilots to share ownership of an aircraft. For years, owning an aircraft as “partners” was the norm. That form of ownership, however, carries with it some liability considerations.

  • “Partners” can generally be held individually liable for one another’s debts, including debts arising from one another’s negligence. In other

When Cory Lidle’s widow sued Cirrus Design, it caused a bit of an uproar in the aviation community.  Her suit alleges that it was a defect in the aircraft’s flight controls that caused the Cirrus SR-20 to slam into a Manhattan hi-rise.  That claim led many to call the suit frivolous.  After all, the NTSB determined the accident was caused by pilot error, plain and simple. Right?

Cirrus asked the federal judge who is hearing the case to toss it out as being based on "junk science." Cirrus argued that under legal precedent known as Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, the judge must act as a "gatekeeper."  That means she must review the expert


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The Death on the High Seas Act was originally intended to apply to shipwrecks and other shipping accidents in international waters.  Though a law of admiralty, DOHSHigh Seas and Air France Flight 447A’s wording is broad enough to cover any accident, not just shipping accidents. Therefore, it applies with equal force to aviation accidents occurring on the high seas.

The "high seas" are those international waters more than 12 nautical miles from the shore of the United States or one of its islands.  After an aviation accident, it doesn’t matter whether the passenger’s family sues the responsible airline under the Warsaw or Montreal conventions, a mechanic for negligence, or a manufacturer for a defectively designed product. If the accident happened on or over the "high seas," those responsible for the


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The Federal Tort Claims Act allows citizens who have been injured by the federal government to sue the United States.  But there’s an important exception.  No suit against the government is allowed when the victim is a service member injured by the negligence of the United States military. 

The rule protecting the military is called the Feres Doctrine

In the early stages of a lawsuit, it is often unclear which of two different defendants is responsible for an aviation accident.  But as the case progresses, evidence may point to one defendant over another.  When that happens, it may seem like a good idea for the victim to settle with (or dismiss from the lawsuit) the defendant whose

A crew member injured by an aircraft’s defective design may sue to hold the aircraft manufactuSuper Stallion Helicopterrer accountable.  At least he can when the aircraft involved in the accident was a civilian aircraft. If, however, the airplane or helicopter was a military aircraft, then the rules change.

A manufacturer who built an aircraft specifically for the military may be