We’ve been told that air flight is the safest form of travel. Statistics support this assertion. The odds of being killed in an airplane crash are 1 in 29.4 million; the odds of being killed in an automobile accident are 1 in 5,000. Yes, you should be more concerned when you slip behind the wheel every morning to drive to work, but what happens when your life is someone else’s hands? The odds of being killed in a plane crash may be 1 in 29.4 million, but tell that to the survivors of the victims of Germanwings Flight 9525 and you might be met with some differing opinions as to the safety of air travel.
On March 24, 2015, six crew members and 144 passengers boarded Germanwings Flight 9525 in Barcelona, Spain for the nearly two-hour trip to Düsseldorf, Germany. What five crew members and the 144 passengers didn’t know was that they were going to die on that fateful flight.
What began as routine travel on this economy Lufthansa carrier ended in tragedy when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz allegedly directed the airliner into a 62-mile descent to crash it into the French Alps. The descent took approximately 10 minutes to complete, and at the end, the plane reportedly disintegrated upon impact.
Although still under investigation, it is believed that the co-pilot entrusted with the remaining crew members and passengers’ lives, suffered from mental illness and was declared unfit to fly. It is also alleged that the co-pilot withheld this information from his employer and practiced crashing the plane prior to taking over the controls that morning.
It might seem odd to consider aviation accidents personal injury matters, but they are. We are tempted to take into account the safety of air travel, and with the exception of this and other isolated tragedies, most airlines are not crashed deliberately. It most cases, it is understood that the pilots tried to save the plane.
Still, what happens to families of the victims? What will happen to the families of the people killed on the Germanwings flight? When you board an airplane, you are placing your life into the hands of another individual and assuming that this individual is qualified to ensure your safety. One would think that you could trust an airline pilot with your life without hesitation, but accidents happen.
Whether unintentional or intentional, the victim’s families are left to pick up the pieces of the tragedy. Likely, many of the people killed on the Germanwings flight were their family’s sole provider, or at least a major source of income, and now the surviving families have not only lost a loved one, but also their financial security.
Yes, airlines are insured and the families generally receive some sort of compensation to aid in their recovery. But as with other accidents, this money is rarely enough. When someone you love has been injured or killed in an aviation accident, you have suffered a personal injury and have the right to be made whole again; Colorado law allows for this.