Helicopter accidents are almost always fatal. It’s a rule of thumb that the smaller the vessel, the more likely it is that an accident occurs. Mechanics of small vessels such as helicopters are not meant for traveling long distances. This is due to the risk of failure that increases the longer the craft is in the air. In air travel, helicopters in particular have one of the highest rates of fatal mechanical failure.
Helicopters are used as a search and rescue device for paramedics. These vessels are known as “Life Flight”. That’s why most people will never need to travel by helicopter. When they choose to, in the event of sightseeing, the trip will be short. However, safety measures must be in place no matter the reason for helicopter travel. Many helicopter accidents occur shortly after takeoff and result in fatalities.
Helicopters have the highest fatality rate in air transportation. This fatality rate is usually due to several factors:
- Pilot lacking experience
- Unsuccessfully maneuvering the aircraft to avoid a collision
- The amount of weight on board being too heavy for the craft
Why is the fatality rate so high in helicopter accidents?
No matter the reason, helicopter accidents are tragic. Often, no one on board survives. Families are then left without a loved one. These occur frequently, and this is why helicopters should not be a preferred mode of transportation. When a safer alternative is available for rescue or sightseeing, a helicopter is not the best choice. However, there are times when a life changing experience arises: a tour of New York City or the Grand Canyon from above! Sometimes a helicopter is the only mode of transportation for such a tour. Tragedy occurs when helicopter accidents transpire during fun, memory making experiences.
After a devastating accident, it’s important to retain Board Certified legal representation as quickly as possible to ensure survivors receive compensation for what will be lifelong trauma. This article will present the Law Resource Blog’s best information on helicopter accidents. We’ll discuss what those who experience helicopter accidents need to know on the legal side. We’re here to help victims take the correct steps to physical and financial recovery.
Are these accidents avoidable?
When it comes to riding in a helicopter, many travelers want the experience. What do passengers need to know should they decide on a helicopter tour? There are several important safety measures and several rules to know.
How do those traveling in helicopters stay safe?
- Listen to the pilot! Before takeoff the pilot always briefs everyone aboard the helicopter about rules and flight policies. There are specific rules about when passengers may enter and exit the helicopter. The pilot will tell passengers when to remain in their seats. All of these policies are in place for a reason: safety! Ignoring these policies puts everyone at risk for a helicopter accident.
- Do not approach! The only time passengers should approach the helicopter is after the pilot clears the airfield safely. Safety tip: always approach a helicopter from the front, so the pilot has a clear view of the party. Approaching the front of the helicopter at an angle gives the pilot the best view of their surroundings.
- Mind the rotors! Once the rotors are already turning, always use caution when approaching the helicopter. Should it be necessary to approach the helicopter when it’s at ground level, walk toward the craft at a “low crouch”. This allows the most space possible between limbs and rotors. Heeding this safety tip prevents catastrophic amputation accidents.
- Secure personal belongings! Any personal items such as hats, ties, or loose jewelry should properly secured. Although, it’s best to take them off before approaching a helicopter. Chasing after an item that blows away usually results in serious injuries.
- Put the cigarette out! Never smoke within 50 feet of a helicopter.
How does wrongful death law pertain to a helicopter accident?
After a helicopter accident resulting in a wrongful death, a family will want to retain a Board Certified lawyer. A lawyer should possess extensive trial experience not only in wrongful death, but in aircraft accidents.
What constitutes a wrongful death claim?
- The death of a human being
- The death must be due to the negligence of another OR with intent (to cause harm, to maim or kill). In the instance of a helicopter accident, the pilot’s lack of experience, intoxication prior to flying, or mental health could result in a wrongful death claim.
- Surviving family who suffer financial injury because of the loss
- Appointing of a personal representative for the deceased’s estate in the event of a sudden, tragic death such as a helicopter accident. It’s important that the decedent’s next of kin are aware of their wishes. Advance directives can provide peace of mind in the event of a sudden death.
The statute of limitations after a helicopter accident
As we’ve stressed in various articles, after a wrongful death occurs it’s important to act fast. The statute of limitations in the state of Florida is (2) two years from the time of death. If the statute of limitations is exceeded, the case will be dismissed no matter how how catastrophic the trauma.
When a case goes to trial, the main aspect of the claim the court will investigate are the circumstances surrounding the decedent at the time of death. These circumstances may include some, or all of the following:
- Loss of income: if the victim was not working at the time of his or her death, a jury will then consider the deceased’s last available earnings and award based partly upon such information, as well as the potential for future earning lost.
- Loss of a parent: parental guidance is considered when determining compensation.
- If the decedent had dependents at the time of death, their children are factored in, as the deceased was the adult wage earner in the home at the time of death.
Who do surviving members contact after an accident?
After a helicopter accident, a Board Certified lawyer with aircraft experience can recover financial compensation on behalf of a surviving family. Nothing ever replaces the loss of a loved one after wrongful death. However, it’s monetary compensation that helps to reduce stress due to someone else’s negligence.