What does an Aviation Attorney do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2019
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An aviation attorney is a lawyer who specializes in aviation law, which is the law that pertains to the operation of aircraft and related ground facilities, such as airports, hangars, and so forth. Aviation attorneys can represent consumers, pilots, airlines, manufacturers, flight schools, and other people involved in the aviation industry in both civil and criminal cases. When a legal case involves an aviation-related matter, it can be extremely helpful to retain an aviation attorney to assist with the handling of the case.

In civil cases, an aviation attorney can handle matters such as product liability suits, suits to recover damages related to plane and helicopter crashes, and wrongful death suits against airlines and private operators. Aviation attorneys are very familiar with the areas of the law that cover these situations and they can provide representation for plaintiffs or defendants in these cases; airlines being sued after an accident, for example, usually have aviation attorneys represent them in court.

Criminal cases involving aviation can include a variety of legal matters. A criminal aviation attorney represents defendants accused of criminal activity such as failing to follow regulations. It is possible for defendants to be sued in criminal and civil courts over the same matter, as for example when an airline doesn't comply with FAA regulations and is fined in civil court, as well as being penalized in criminal court.


Some aviation attorneys are kept on retainer or work within the legal department for companies such as airlines, aviation manufacturers, flight schools, charter companies, and so forth. These attorneys represent the interests of their clients in court, provide legal advice when legal matters arise, and are involved in the establishment of policy for the organization, with the goal of setting policy that helps the organization comply with the law.

Other aviation attorneys work independently, primarily representing people who wish to sue members of the aviation industry. These attorneys may work with firms that specialize in disaster-related law, including staffers who handle maritime disasters and other personal injury cases. People involved in an aviation disaster or other aviation-related matters can benefit from using the services of an aviation attorney rather than an attorney with a more general area of practice. The familiarity with the relevant laws can result in a more effective case and a larger settlement for the client, and using a well-known attorney may intimidate the defendant and make it easier to negotiate a settlement out of court to resolve the matter quickly.


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