Who is Responsible for Defective Aircraft Machinery?

Apr 4, 2022 | Aviation Accidents, Personal Injury

defective aircraft machinery

Every year, millions of Americans travel around the country on helicopters and airplanes. When they do, they expect to arrive safely at their destination. 

Unfortunately, these flights do not always go to plan. Sometimes, essential components fail and cause the aircraft to crash, killing or injuring the people inside.

Who is responsible for accidents caused by defective machinery? And what can the victims and their families do to claim compensation for their damages?

Williams Hart & Boundas Boundas LLP is here to provide you with all the info you need to know.

Defective Aircraft Machinery – Determining the Responsible Party

When defective aircraft machinery causes passengers to sustain injuries or lose their lives, one or more of the following parties is almost always to blame:

The Aircraft Manufacturer

Manufacturers must ensure every part that goes into their aircraft is safe, built to code, and free of known defects. If a manufacturer knowingly puts defective components in an airplane or fails to disclose potential problems, they may be held responsible for any ensuing accidents.

The Airline

Airlines are responsible for the actions of their employees. For example, suppose a component breaks because one of their team members overloaded a plane or operated a helicopter in unsafe conditions. In that case, courts may find them the at-fault party in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

A Third-Party Maintenance Company

Airlines in the United States regularly hire third-party companies to maintain their aircraft. If the shoddy work of that company’s technicians causes a key component to fail, they might be held liable for any subsequent damages.

Common Types of Defective Aircraft Machinery

Airplanes and helicopters have thousands of components designed to work in harmony to transport passengers from one place to another safely. But, unfortunately, some of those parts are more likely to fail than others.

The majority of the machinery that is most likely to fail in-flight falls into one of these categories:

Engine Components

It is not uncommon for defective parts to cause aircraft engines to fail. Such a failure is not generally a significant issue for large commercial jets designed to withstand the loss of an engine. However, it can be catastrophic for smaller, single-engine aircraft.

Electrical Components

Modern aircraft are filled with electrical components pilots use to navigate, monitor altitude, and determine speed. Unfortunately, these parts often fail – making landing the aircraft much more dangerous than it needs to be.

Structural Components

Takeoffs, landings, and turbulence place a great deal of strain on the structural components of a plane. When those parts don’t meet the FAA’s standards, they often fail and cause accidents.

Common Injuries Caused by Defective Aircraft Machinery

When planes and helicopters crash as a result of defective machinery, passengers can suffer an array of severe, life-altering injuries, such as:

Traumatic Brain Injuries

When components break and aircraft crash, passengers often hit their heads against walls, windows, seatbacks, and other solid objects. Those impacts regularly cause traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).

Some people make full recoveries from TBIs in a matter of days. For others, the process of recovery can take years.


Airplane and helicopter accidents often start fires that cause passengers to sustain severe burns. Those burns can be excruciating and may result in disfigurement or death.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for passengers to sustain severe spinal cord damage in aviation accidents caused by defective machinery.

These spinal cord injuries can cause some victims muscle weakness and bladder control issues. For others, they can result in complete paralysis. 


When people get into aviation accidents, they often suffer a great deal of trauma to the legs and arms. If the damage is too severe, doctors may have no option but to amputate the limb.

Individuals who lose their limbs need a great deal of therapy in the months and years following the crash.

Defective Aircraft Machinery Lawsuits

When passengers suffer injuries in aviation accidents caused by defective machinery, they often rack up tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills and other expenses. Those who wish to be compensated for their damages can file personal injury lawsuits against the at-fault party (or parties).

Those lawsuits generally follow this path:

  1. Initial Investigations: Attorneys speak to witnesses and review photo evidence
  2. Formal Filing: The plaintiff’s attorney files lawsuit paperwork with the court
  3. Discovery: Both parties exchange facts, documents, and critical information
  4. Settlement Negotiations: Lawyers and insurance reps try to work out a deal
  5. Trial: If the parties cannot agree to an agreement, the case goes before a judge 

The standard statute of limitations for aviation accident cases in Texas is two years. Therefore, it is generally advisable for injured parties to begin pursuing compensation before the second anniversary of their crash.

Depending on the case’s complexity, this compensation claims process can last anywhere from a few months to a couple of years.

The number of compensation victims receives at the end of the process varies significantly from case to case. However, the award is generally based on factors such as:

  • The cost of the victim’s initial medical treatment
  • The expenses associated with the victim’s ongoing care
  • The amount of time the victim missed from work due to their injury
  • The effect the victim’s injury will have on their ability to work, and
  • The impact the victim’s injury will have on their quality of life

Victims who would like to receive an accurate estimate of the compensation they may be eligible to receive should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Houston’s Trusted Defective Aircraft Machinery Attorneys

Did you suffer an injury or lose a loved one because of an aviation accident caused by defective machinery? If so, please do not hesitate to reach out to the experienced personal injury lawyers at Williams Hart & Boundas Boundas LLP. We have been standing up for the residents of Houston for years, and we would love to help you fight for the compensation you deserve.

Disclaimer: This material is provided for informational purposes only. The provision of this material does not create an attorney-client relationship between the firm and the reader and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this newsletter are not a substitute for legal counsel. Do not take action in reliance on the contents of this material without seeking the advice of counsel.

The information contained in this blog may or may not reflect the most current legal developments. Accordingly, information in this blog is not promised or guaranteed to be correct or complete, and should not be relied upon as such. Readers should conduct their own appropriate legal research.


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