Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman changed its name to Wisner Baum in January 2023.

Airport Runway Accidents

Airport Runway Accident Lawyers

Experienced Representation for Victims of Runway Accidents

Any pilot will tell you that the most critical times of a flight are during takeoff and landing. The margins for errors, in both circumstances, are slim. If anything goes wrong, the likely result is a runway accident, which can have deadly consequences. According to a study published by Boeing Commercial Airplanes, nearly half of all aviation accidents occur during the final approach or landing and 14 percent occur during takeoff or initial climb.

If you or a loved one have been harmed in an airport runway crash, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced aviation attorney to protect your rights. The vast amount of rules and regulations governing air travel can make aviation accident cases complex and confusing, therefore, retaining a qualified aviation attorney is vital. Our aviation attorneys at Wisner Baum have represented over 100 passengers in more than a dozen runway accidents, and we have dedicated our practice to ensuring that victims of aviation crashes receive the justice and compensation they deserve.

Contact us at (855) 948-5098 to speak with a Los Angeles airport runway accident attorney today.

planes on a runway

What Causes Takeoff and Landing Runway Accidents?

Most of us have misconceptions about how plane crashes happen. Based on what we see in the movies and on TV, when we think of plane crashes, we typically think of the sensational —a mid-air collision or engine failure at 30,000 feet, resulting in planes plummeting from the sky. The truth is that the majority of aviation accidents happen on the runway during takeoff or landing, not while the airplane is cruising in the air.

Three reasons why airport runway accidents are the most common of all aviation accidents:

  • Takeoffs and landings are when planes are closest to the ground. There is often not enough time or altitude for the pilots to take corrective action.
  • Planes are traveling slower, closer to their stalling speeds, and forced to do more maneuvering during these critical times.
  • Planes are in closer proximity to one another when taking off or landing at an airport.

When a plane is close to the ground or in the proximity of other aircraft, there is little room for error. As we think of runway accidents, we typically think of a mechanical malfunction, maintenance issues or a number of other problems occurring during takeoff or landing that can lead to catastrophe, but oftentimes the pilots didn’t do everything they were required to do to set up a safe takeoff or landing.

Top causes for runway accidents:

  • Pilot error – Most runway accidents are the result of pilot error, which can result from tactical errors (such as poor actions, planning or decision making, often caused by lack of experience or fatigue) or operational errors (relating to training or instruction).
  • Air traffic controller error — Air traffic controllers are often responsible for dozens of planes taking off and landing at the same time. The job is a demanding one; difficult and complex. One small mistake can lead to a mid-air collision or runway incursion (this occurs when another plane or a vehicle is on a runway designated for a plane coming in to land, or starting its takeoff roll).
  • Mechanical failure or defective design – Either of these causes can result in runway accidents. For example, if a landing gear does not deploy it can force pilots to perform a belly landing.
  • Maintenance error— Roughly 12 percent of all aviation accident reports cite poor maintenance as a contributing factor. Between the years 1994 to 2004, maintenance issues contributed to 42 percent of fatal airline accidents in the U.S.
  • Bad weather — Inclement weather can cause runway accidents when a plane is either unable to properly take off due to stormy weather, or unable to land appropriately, often causing the plane to overrun a runway.

Types of Runway Accidents

Runway Excursion

Commonly referred to as a runway overrun, a runway excursion is when an aircraft veers off or overruns the runway surface. Runway excursions occur while an aircraft is taking off or landing and can involve a variety of factors ranging from unstable approaches, to the condition of the runway.

According to a study conducted by the Flight Safety Foundation, roughly 96 percent of all runway accidents and 80 percent of the deaths stemming from runway accidents, are the result of runway excursions. The Flight Safety Foundation study found that runway excursions are the most common type of all runway accidents. At Wisner Baum, our aviation attorneys have represented nearly 70 passengers in runway excursion cases.

Runway Incursion

The second most common type of runway accidents, according to the Flight Safety Foundation study, are runway incursions. These occur when an aircraft collides with an unauthorized vehicle, a person on the runway or another plane. Incursion runway accidents are not as common as excursion runway accidents, but they are certainly just as dangerous. In five fatal runway incursions that happened between 1995 and 2007, 129 people lost their lives. The deadliest runway incursion in history killed 583 people in the Canary Islands. Two Boeing 747s collided on March, 27, 1977 at Los Rodeos Airport (now Tenerife North Airport) on the Spanish island of Tenerife.

Runway Confusion

Runway confusion is when a single plane uses the wrong runway or a taxiway during landing or takeoff. Only two fatal runway accidents in recent years have been attributed to runway confusion: Singapore Airlines Flight 006 and Comair Flight 5191.

On October 31, 2000, the pilots of Singapore Airlines Flight 006 attempted to takeoff on a closed runway, in the midst of a typhoon. The plane crashed into some construction equipment, killing 83 of the 179 people onboard. We represented four passengers injured in this runway accident.

Who Can Be Held Liable for Runway Accidents?

As you can see, runway accidents can happen in many different ways, which means that many different parties can be held liable when they occur.

Below are the three instances where you may be able to seek damages:

  • If a runway crash is caused by pilot error, crew member negligence, or faulty maintenance, the airline and the person (or persons) responsible may be held accountable.
  • If a runway accident is caused by air traffic controller error, liability in the case is different. Air traffic controllers are Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees. A claim involving an error committed by a federal employee has to be filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).
  • If an accident is caused by a faulty part or mechanical failure, a product liability claim can possibly be filed against the parts manufacturer or the airplane’s manufacturer.

Legal Rights for Victims of Runway Accidents

If you have been the victim of a runway accident, it is in your best interest to retain an experienced aviation attorney as quickly as possible to ensure that you receive maximum compensation. In the weeks following a runway crash, you and your family will be thrust into dealing with questions from the airline, insurance companies and perhaps even authorities, which is why you need an attorney to advocate on your behalf during this difficult time. All of the defendants in your case will likely have a strong defense team trying to limit their liability, so it is imperative that you have someone fighting for you.

The aviation law firm of Wisner Baum has litigated cases on behalf of more than 700 passengers, crew members and ground workers involved in personal injury and wrongful death claims in the U.S. and around the world. Our team has over 40 years of aviation accident litigation experience, successfully resolving cases against some of the largest airlines in the world, many of them stemming from airport runway accidents.

For a free case evaluation with an aviation attorney at Wisner Baum, fill out this form or call (855) 948-5098 today.

Contact Us Today

No Fees Unless We Win
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • +1
    Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please enter your city.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.
  • A Major US Plane Crash $17.5 Million Settlement

    Wisner Baum obtained a $17.5 million settlement on behalf of a client who was killed in a major U.S. plane crash.

  • A Major US Plane Crash $14 Million Settlement

    Wisner Baum obtained a $14 million settlement for the death of a passenger in a major US plane crash.

  • Helicopter Crash $12 Million Settlement

    Wisner Baum secured a $12 million settlement for a passenger who was injured in a helicopter crash.

  • A Major Foreign Plane Crash $10 Million Settlement

    Wisner Baum obtained a $10 million settlement for the death of a passenger in a major foreign plane crash.

  • Best Law Firms 2023
    Best Law Firms 2023

    A ranking in The U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” is widely regarded by both client and legal professionals as a significant honor. It is considered the most reliable, unbiased source of legal referrals anywhere.

  • The Truck Safety Coalition
    The Truck Safety Coalition

    Wisner Baum is proud to be a sponsor of The Truck Safety Coalition, a a group of caring individuals dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes. Our support enables them to help families and save lives.

  • California Powerhouse
    California Powerhouse

    Law360 recognizes law firms that have a strong regional presence, working on important matters within their home state. “[Wisner Baum] possesses a David v. Goliath-sized slingshot while seeking justice for everyday citizens it believes were harmed or killed through corporate wrongdoing.”

  • Elite Trial Lawyers
    Elite Trial Lawyers

    NLJ and American Lawyer Media honor law firms and attorneys as Elite Trial Lawyers for their cutting-edge legal work on behalf of plaintiffs in practice areas ranging from mass torts to securities litigation.

  • Listed in Best Lawyers
    Listed in Best Lawyers

    Best Lawyers is the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession. A listing in Best Lawyers is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor, conferred on a lawyer by his or her peers.

  • AV Top Ranked Law Firm
    AV Top Ranked Law Firm

    Less than one-half of one percent of firms across the nation have achieved this ranking. A firm must have a high percentage of lawyers who have achieved the prestigious AV® Preeminent rating by Martindale-Hubbell®.

  • Verdicts Hall of Fame
    Verdicts Hall of Fame

    The National Law Journal inducted Wisner Baum into the Verdicts Hall of Fame for obtaining the $2 billion landmark verdict in the Roundup cancer case of Pilliod et al. v. Monsanto. The verdict was #1 in California and #2 in the U.S. in 2019 and is #9 in American history.

  • Super Lawyers
    Super Lawyers

    Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

  • National Trial Lawyers Top 100
    National Trial Lawyers Top 100

    The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 recognized the law firms of Wisner Baum, the Miller Firm and Audet & Partners with the 2019 Trial Team of the Year award (in the Mass Torts category) for their work in the groundbreaking case of Dewayne “Lee” Johnson v. Monsanto Company.

  • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated
    AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated

    An AV® rating reflects an attorney who has reached the heights of professional excellence. The rating signifies the highest legal ability, and very high adherence to professional standards of conduct, ethics, reliability, and diligence.

  • Avvo 10.0 Rating
    Avvo 10.0 Rating

    Wisner Baum is proud to have all of its lawyers listed in Avvo, a legal directory connecting people in need of legal services with lawyers and connecting lawyers to lawyers. Eight of our attorneys have earned a 10.0 perfect rating with Avvo.

  • Top Jury Verdict in <br> CA and USA
    Top Jury Verdict in
    CA and USA ranks our $2 billion verdict in Pilliod et al. v. Monsanto as the biggest verdict in California and the second largest verdict in the U.S. in 2019. It is the ninth largest verdict in U.S. history.

  • Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Consumer Lawyers
    Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Consumer Lawyers

    Published annually, the Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Consumer Lawyers list recognizes the “best of the best” in this area of the law through nominations, research, and review by a board of their peers.

  • Product Liability Practice Group of the Year
    Product Liability Practice Group of the Year

    In 2020, Law360 honored the law firms ”behind the litigation wins and major deals that resonated throughout the legal industry.” It recognized our success in several landmark cases.

  • Top Personal Injury Jury Verdict in California
    Top Personal Injury Jury Verdict in California

    In 2018, our $289 million Johnson v. Monsanto verdict was the largest personal injury verdict in California. also ranked it #2 among all verdicts in California and #10 in the nation.

  • Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers
    Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers

    The Bar Register is the definitive guide to the most distinguished law firms in America. It includes only those select law practices that have earned the highest rating in the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory and have been designated by their colleagues as preeminent in their field.


Firm Reviews

What Our Clients Are Saying
  • I Can’t Imagine a Better Law Firm

    “Multiple lawyers recommended Wisner Baum to me and I have been consistently impressed with the quality of their work.”

    - Best Law Firms Survey
  • They Are About Changing the Systems...

    “Wisner Baum are not only amazing attorneys but more importantly, they are activists. They are about changing the systems which got us into trouble in the first place. They understand their role in the process of making change.”

    - Kim Witczak
  • Top Legal Minds in the Country

    “The Wisner Baum firm has some of the top legal minds in the country; they are driven, determined, trustworthy, ethical and passionate.”

    - From Best Lawyers® Best Law Firms
  • Diligent & Professional Representation

    “Thanks to your efforts I was able to recover from a tragic experience and turn my life around for the best.”

    - W.T.
  • Our Best Interest Was Always Number One on Your List

    “A special thank you to your Spanish-speaking staff for the extra effort put into this case. The language barrier was never a problem, and we are so very thankful to them. Your name holds much respect in our family.”

    - G.C. & C.C