Over 80 Combined Years Of Maritime Law Experience

Are seaplane crashes treated the same as normal plane crashes?

On Behalf of | Aug 9, 2023 | Flight Accident

One question that might arise after an Alaska seaplane crash is whether it is different from a normal plane crash in terms of legal liability and compensation. The answer depends on several factors, such as where the crash occurred, who was at fault and what kind of damages were suffered.

Seaplanes versus airplanes

Floatplanes are small aircraft that can land and take off from water, making them ideal for exploring remote areas of the state. However, sea plane flights are not without risks. In fact, Alaska has one of the highest rates of aviation accidents in the country, and many of them involve seaplanes.

Maritime versus aviation claims

One of the main differences between seaplane crashes and normal plane crashes is the potential application of maritime law. Maritime law, also known as admiralty law, is a body of federal law that governs activities on navigable waters, such as oceans, lakes and rivers. Maritime law can affect issues such as jurisdiction, liability, damages and insurance coverage in cases involving seaplanes.

Generally speaking, maritime law applies to seaplane crashes that occur on navigable waters or within the territorial boundaries of the United States. However, some exceptions and nuances can make this determination complex and case-specific. For example, some courts have held that maritime law does not apply to sea plane crashes that occur during takeoff or landing, or that occur on non-navigable waters, such as ponds or swamps.

Maritime claims

If maritime law applies to a seaplane crash, it can have significant implications for the victims and their families. For instance, maritime law may limit the liability of the seaplane operator or owner to the value of the aircraft after the crash, which could be very low or even zero.

Maritime law may also limit the types and amounts of damages that can be recovered by the plaintiffs, such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium or punitive damages.

Aviation claims

On the other hand, if maritime law does not apply to a seaplane crash, then state or federal aviation law may apply instead. Aviation law is generally more favorable to plaintiffs than maritime law, as it does not impose such limitations on liability or damages. Aviation law may also provide more options for filing a lawsuit in different courts or jurisdictions.