Air Show crash – Duty of Care?

Air Show crash – Duty of Care?

I’m sure you’ve heard about the recent accident at the air show in Nevada.  And the one in West Virginia.  Commonality, it seems, is the name of the game.  Accidents happen.  Even though they say you’re more likely to get injured by a car than an airplane, that doesn’t mean that people never get injured by airplanes.  If there’s a will, there’s a way, and if there’s an opportunity for injury, injury there will be.  Part of life is trying to navigate the unexpected.

So, for the people who got injured at these air show crashes – and for the relatives of those killed –  is there a viable lawsuit?  Can they sue for damages, and should they retain a personal injury attorney?  Well, unlike a rear-ender on the highway or a slip-and-fall at a major department store, the answer isn’t black and white.

In any personal injury case, the plaintiff must prove that there existed, on behalf of the defendant, a duty of care which said defendant failed to satisfy.  For example, in a department store slip-and-fall case, the plaintiff would have to prove that the defendant, the department store, had a duty of care which included making sure that the floors were safe for customers to walk on.  If there was a giant puddle on the floor, which caused the customer to fall and hurt themselves as a result of, the defendant would have breached their duty of care by negligently leaving a puddle on the floor where customers are expected to walk without fear of injury.

Sure, the people in charge of the air show had a degree of responsibility as per ensuring the safety of the spectators.  But here arises another issue relating to personal injury cases – the issue of assumed risk.  In a blog posted over the past month, we wrote about the assumed risk of living on a golf course.  That is, when you buy a property that sits on a golf course, you shouldn’t be surprised if a golf ball happens to come flying through your window on occasion.  Let’s be realistic, your neighbors, as dedicated as they may be, are not the world’s best at operating a 4 wood.  Similarly, if you decide to buy a home right next to an airport, you can’t really file a noise complaint with the city – what did you expect?  Airplanes are going to make noise.  A LOT of noise.

The law is there to protect you, not coddle you.  First and foremost, you are responsible for doing the best that you can to avoid hazards and maintain a level of reasonable safety.  Lawyers can’t – and shouldn’t – do everything for you.  However, in the case of a true accident, they can be a necessity and very helpful in going to bat for you, especially against a pitcher who’s got an attorney of his or her own.

So, do the injured (physically and emotionally) at the air shows have a case?  Maybe.  But if they file a lawsuit they may get the following response: people who attend baseball games are made aware of the possibility that a ball might fly into the stands and injure someone.  Those who attend hockey games are made aware of the fact that pucks can fly into the stands and hurt someone.  People at Nascar races are warned that tires have a tendency to skid over the stand barriers and hit a spectator.  Air shows just might fall into that category.

Air show injuries are the extreme, not norm.  While there is a risk assumed with driving a car, the accidents that occur in that arena (i.e., the road) come about, largely, due to the fault of an individual or individuals– a negligent party (or the negligent parties).  The comparable situation at the air show would be that no matter how dangerous airplanes can be, if a fellow spectator trips you and breaks your leg, you have a lawsuit against him, individually – the negligent party, because you were injured by him, not the circumstances involved with the air show.

If you feel that you have been injured due to the negligence of another, please contact the Law Offices of Aronberg & Aronberg at 561-266-9191 or email us at

Views: 0