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Tragic accident renews debate over skydiving flight safety

A tragic airplane crash in Hawaii has sparked calls for better safety regulations in the aviation industry. Eleven people were killed northwest of Honolulu when a twin engine turboprop plane taking passengers on a skydiving trip crashed shortly after takeoff. It was the worst civilian airplane accident since 2011.

According to news reports, the same plane had experienced a terrifying mid-flight malfunction a few years earlier.

After the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board called on the Federal Aviation Administration to implement new safety regulations for skydiving flights. The NTSB alerted the FAA to its concerns in 2008, but says the FAA has done nothing to improve safety since then. The NTSB says since it issued its recommendations 11 years ago, it has recorded 80 incidents and 19 deaths involving skydiving flights.

The FAA responded by saying it has in fact instituted some new safety measures for skydiving flights, including instituting safety education for skydiving flight operators.

Skydiving is, of course, an inherently risky activity, but that does not free flight operators from their duty to provide a reasonably safe flight for their passengers. As with a personal injury case involving a car accident, a pilot who injures passengers through negligence can be held liable for their damages. In the event of a fatal accident, the family members of the victims may be able to recover compensation for their damages.

However, personal injury and wrongful death claims involving commercial vehicles and aircraft can be different in many ways from lawsuits involving routine car accidents. In an accident involving a commercial vehicle, the operator's employer may often be held liable as well as the operator. Because commercial vehicles and aircraft are heavily regulated, state and federal laws may also complicate matters.

The injured and their families can talk to an attorney with experience in commercial vehicle accidents about their options for pursuing compensation.

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