Where can a lawsuit for damages be filed in the event of a general aviation accident?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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General aviation accidents can cause some confusion should one or more of the victims wish to file a lawsuit. Should the case be filed where the accident took place, where the victim lives, or where the airline is located? The confusion is understandable, and the answer is that any of the above can be a venue for filing depending on the situation. Which one you choose will depend on your particular situation, but you should consider seeking a lawyer’s advice before you make the decision.

An aviation lawsuit can generally be filed anywhere where there is a sufficient connection between the accident and that location. In other words, if you bought your ticket in a given city, departed from a certain city or were going to a certain city, all of those locations can be the right location to sue. The place in which you file the lawsuit should be based on common sense as well as convenience; if the airline is incorporated in a very distant location from where the plaintiff lives, s/he probably doesn’t want to file a lawsuit there because getting to and from the trial will be a problem. On the other hand, because aviation law is dictated on both state and federal levels, it’s also important to consider what the particular laws might be in any of the given areas – maybe your case will have a much better chance if you file, for example, where the accident took place as opposed to where you live.

If the aviation accident involved international travel, the choice of venue will fall under the requirements of the Warsaw Convention, which also dictate a list of possible choices that the plaintiff may consider. Again, the advice of a lawyer experienced in aviation law can be very helpful, and maybe essential, in a successful venue selection.

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