US Airways Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger and his co-pilot, Jeff Skiles, may have protected the airline from lawsuits that usually follow plane crashes.
Legal experts say that because of its happy outcome, Flight 1549 has the potential to be among the least litigious airline crashes in recent memory.
Justin Green, attorney with the law firm Kreindler & Kreindler, and other lawyers note that Sullenberger’s successful water landing changed the case’s legal landscape dramatically.
“The difference between this being a case where you have half the plane dead and the other with serious injuries and everyone suing over post-traumatic stress disorder is the way the pilot performed,” Green said.
Still, there may be room for victims upset by the experience to find grounds for a lawsuit, lawyers said, especially if further investigation reveals engine failure or that the bird strike may have been avoided.
Federal law prohibits lawyers from soliciting business from air crash victims in the first 45 days after an accident. In the meantime, US Airways has taken steps to keep passengers happy, including cutting each a check for $5,000 to cover missing luggage.