Who is Liable for Damages in an Alaska Aviation Accident?


First, the good news: Aviation-related transportation is far safer than motor vehicle travel, so you are less likely to be hurt in an airplane than a car. The bad news is that the rate of airplane crashes in Alaska is higher than the national average. According to a recent report published by the Anchorage Daily News, the statistics for the last few years show there were:

  • Nine crashes in 2018;
  • Eight crashes in 2017;
  • Twelve crashes in 2016; and,
  • Eleven crashes in 2015.


A closer look at the data reveals that a high percentage of all crashes in the US occurred in Alaska, which is home to less than 1% of the national population. Fortunately, state law does provide you with rights as a victim, so you may be able to recover damages from the negligent party. However, one major factor is WHO that person or entity might be. An Alaska airplane accidents attorney can handle the details, but some background information may be helpful.

  • Pilots: The initial person to consider pursuing is the person operating the plane, since negligence is closely tied to human error. Holding a pilot accountable for an aviation accident is similar to a claim for injuries if you were involved in a motor vehicle crash.
  • Airlines: It may be possible to seek compensation from the airline that employs the pilot who caused the airplane accident. Under the legal theory of respondeat superior, which makes an employer liable for the acts of employees within the scope of employment.
  • Owner of the Aircraft: In some situations, a different person or entity owns the airplane. That party would be responsible for failure to properly maintain the aircraft or conduct regular inspections. The owner may also be liable if there is an employment relationship with the pilot who was operating the plane.
  • Airport Operators: At times, dangerous conditions at the airport can cause an airplane accident, such as through mismanagement of air control. You may also be able to pursue an airport company for negligence in maintaining runways or surrounding areas.
  • Airplane Manufacturers: Aircraft are complex machines, so even just one defect in a component or part can lead to an accident. The flaw might be related to how the equipment was designed, or it could be a defect that occurred during the manufacturing process. A claim based upon a flaw within the plane proceeds according to the principles of product liability, specifically strict liability. This means you do not have to prove that the manufacturer of the defective equipment was negligent.


Speak to an Alaska Airplane Accidents Lawyer for Free

Of course, there is much more to an airplane crash case than knowing whom you can pursue for damages. Other issues include proving fault, filing a claim with an insurance company, and complying with court procedural rules. For more information on your rights and remedies as the victim of an aviation accident, please contact Power & Power Law. We can set up a no-cost consultation with a skilled attorney at our offices in Anchorage, Alaska.