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Airplanes-Cases Summarized By Accident Lawyer

This page within Virginia Tort Case Law is a compilation of cases reported by the Virginia Supreme Court and summarized by Brien Roche dealing with the topic of Airplanes and the related topic of vehicle accidents.  For more information on airplane issues see the pages on Wikipedia


See Va. Code Title 5.1 generally.


1981 Mackey v. Miller, 221 Va. 715, 273 S.E.2d 550.

Ordinary rules of negligence apply to operation of airplanes. Defendant violated F.A.A. safety rule in flying too close to plaintiff. Plaintiff not guilty of contributory negligence as matter of law, for not seeing defendant since duty to maintain lookout is directly related to his ability to see other aircraft.

1975 Surface v. Johnson, 215 Va. 777, 214 S.E.2d 152.

Since it is matter of common knowledge that airplanes may fall or crash in absence of negligence or fault on part of its pilot, res ipsa loquitur not applied. Moreover, gross negligence rule does not extend to guests who are traveling by aircraft. However, in present case, although “precise reason” for crash not established, evidence shows defendant’s decedent, inexperienced student pilot not licensed, undertook night flight with other person aboard his aircraft, under extremely adverse weather conditions over rugged mountainous territory and against advice of his instructor. Error to strike plaintiff’s evidence as jury question presented.

1972 Sheris v. Sheris & Travelers, 212 Va. 825, 188 S.E.2d 367.

Warsaw Treaty imposed absolute liability on carrier for all personal injuries regardless of fault, if action that caused damage took place on board plane. Need for litigation of fault is eliminated unless plaintiff seeks unlimited recovery for failure to give notice or for willful misconduct. Warsaw Convention does not create independent right of action, but only presumption of liability leaving it for local law to grant right of action.

1960 Walthew v. Davis, 201 Va. 557, 111 S.E.2d 784.

Gross negligence rule applicable to guests in auto. Not applicable to guests in airplanes. In this case, there was ample evidence of negligence on part of defendant.

1949 Hall v. Payne, 189 Va. 140, 52 S.E.2d 76.

Airplane crash. It is matter of common knowledge that airplanes fall from causes that are not ascertained. Plane destroyed and all aboard killed. Law presumes that pilot was operating plane with ordinary care, and burden was on plaintiff to prove that he was guilty of negligence, which was proximate cause of accident. No verdict should be based on conjecture, and if jury were unable to say who or what was cause of accident, they must find for defendant.

1948 Cape Charles Flying Serv. v. Nottingham, 187 Va. 144, 47 S.E.2d 540.

Duty of flying service as to passenger, upon discharge from plane, to warn passengers of danger of revolving propellers or to direct them to place of safety.

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Airplanes-Cases Summarized By Accident Lawyer

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