What is GARA and how does it relate to aviation accidents?
UPDATED: December 16, 2019
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GARA, or the General Aviation Revitalization Act, was drafted in 1994 as an amendment to the original Federal Aviation Act that was previously drafted and passed in 1958. GARA is essentially a "statute of repose" or statute of limitations."
The purpose of GARA was to establish time constraints in which civil actions must be brought against an airline company or aircraft manufacturer who supplied a component part for an aircraft. GARA applies to aircrafts that were involved in an accident that resulted in damages to property or injuries to human passengers.
Under the rules set by GARA, if the aircraft seats less than twenty passengers and is older than 18 years, any aircraft manufacturer that supplied a component or part for that aircraft cannot be sued in the event of an aviation related accident. These rules were set in place to protect smaller companies and parts manufacturers from liability for parts made many years in the past.
This exemption is not extended in every circumstance, however. For instance, if the aircraft is engaged in a scheduled or routine flight that is designated as a passenger travel flight, or if the aircraft is in the process of being used for a medical transport vehicle of any kind, anyone who is injured in the event of an accident may be entitled to file suit against the aircraft manufacturer or component supplier. Another instance in which an individual may file suit against an aircraft manufacturer or component supplier is in the event of an accident which injures or kills someone who is not a passenger of the aircraft at the time of the accident.
If you are concerned about whether GARA may apply to an aviation accident you are involved in, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced attorney. Your lawyer can provide you with details and advice on who the appropriate defendants are based on your accident.