When California residents get on a commercial airplane, they expect the aircraft to be properly maintained. However, that is not always the case. On April 17, a passenger was killed on a Southwest Airlines plane when an engine blew apart on a flight from New York to Dallas.

According to media reports, one of the Boeing 737-700 plane’s engines exploded mid-flight, hurling shrapnel into a fuselage window. The window broke and gave way, causing the cabin to rapidly depressurize. As a result, a female passenger was partially sucked out of the plane. Other passengers pulled her back in, but she suffered severe injuries. The plane began to rapidly descend, and many of the plane’s passengers sent desperate messages to loved ones, fearing they were going to crash. However, the pilot was able to regain control of the aircraft and bring it in for an urgent landing in Philadelphia. The female passenger was transported to a local hospital, but she later died from her injuries. Seven other passengers were treated for minor injuries.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident. They are looking into the possibility that the engine explosion was caused by metal fatigue in one of its fan blades. In 2016, the FAA announced an airworthiness directive that required early inspection of all the fan blades in certain CFM56-7B engines. It is not yet clear if the directive applied to the engine that exploded.

All commercial planes are required to be regularly inspected and properly maintained in order to ensure public safety. If a passenger is killed in a plane-related accident, their family could file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation for their losses. Possible damages sought in such a claim could include funeral costs, pain and suffering before death, loss of income and loss of companionship.