Pilot/Owner liability.


All accidents have the potential for tragic endings, such was the case of the

owner of the Fremont Progress Airport … killed in an airplane crash Sunday along with five others.

as noted by WBNS 10TV

“It was just kind of an accident. He was giving airplane rides. He always gives charity air rides,” said Gene Damschroder’s son, Rex Damschroder. … The Lions Club of Fremont on Sunday held a fly-in breakfast, inviting nearby pilots to fly to the airport and display their planes. After the event, Damschroder offered visitors a chance to go up in planes for the cost of fuel, according to a poster at the airport. It wasn’t clear whether those on board had taken Damschroder up on his offer.

What are the liability issues here? Should the Lions Club be concerned? For those who are owner/operators, what are the issues when someone rides in your aircraft? For those who fly in other’s aircraft, what concerns should they have before accepting a ride?


Can’t answer for Eagle or Lion’s club, but for Angel Flights / Grace Flight, patient signs a release of liability for both the organization and the pilot before setting foot in the plane.

That waiver is faxed or mailed before departure from the departure FBO


Most established organizations have procedures in place regarding liability. This covers a wide range of topics from renting a facility for an event or chartering a bus. Add alcohol to the formula and it really becomes fun. :wink:

I wonder how those waivers hold up in court?

Unfortrunately, everytime you walk out your door you’re at risk and potentially liable for something. When you’re locked in your house your risk is about the same.


The ambulance chasers will attempt to litigate anything…they see $$$$ regardless! And if the judge rules in favor…

A waiver of liability means squat if some sort of negligence can be argued and proven.


Funny (or not so funny) you mentioned this as this was my thought on that IA Angel Flight mission…

That one definitely could be argued (as like anything in life) but proving it of course would be a different beast.


Legally, you can only limit your right to sue, not abrogate it completely. IOW, you can’t sign away your right to sue.


I’m interested in watching a recent incident unfold. I noticed the family who was getting a free ride, multiple times from the same pilot, did not mention him when they released their statement.


“gross negligence” seems to be the key word. Civil law is a state issue, and it generally appears signed waivers of liability do cover acts of “gross negligence”.

California defines gross negligence as “want of even scant care or an extreme departure from ordinary standard of conduct”. The court notes that other states define gross negligence as “wanton, willful conduct … reckless misconduct”.



As this thread grows, my money is on a law suit. I watched it on our local news here in the D.C. area…tragic. Someone once told me in instances like this “Everyone gets sued, because someone is going to pay.”