Aviation accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report that a news helicopter recently crashed in downtown Seattle near the city’s famed Space Needle. The crash occurred around 7:40 a.m., killing two people on the scene and sending at least one other to the hospital.
There were three people inside the helicopter, which is used by local TV networks KOMO and KING5. The crash sent large plumes of fire and smoke into the air and surrounding area, igniting three cars. One 37-year-old man was inside one of the cars at the time, managed to pull himself from the vehicle and was taken to a nearby medical center.
The helicopter was taking off from a downtown helipad when it crashed onto the 400 block of Broad Street next to Fisher Plaza. Bystanders were overwhelmed by the smell of burning rubber and helicopter debris. Emergency responders quickly poured sand on the ground to soak up leaking fuel and prevent any further devastation.
Federal investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are now on the scene. We will be sure to report back on their findings into the cause of the crash when that information is available.
Problems with Medical Helicopters
The NTSB frequently issues reports on the frequency of helicopter crashes and their causes. In 2011, the federal agency noted that safety records for one type of helicopter – medical helicopters – were unacceptable. In fact, being a crew member on a medical helicopter is frequently cited as one of the most dangerous professions in the country.
The past few years have been extremely difficult for medical helicopters and their operation companies. In 2013 alone about a dozen people were killed in these crashes, also causing millions of dollars in property damage. Over the past 17 years, the annual fatalities for medical helicopters stay around 10.5 per year, the highest number being in 2008 with 28 people killed.
The NTSB has made several recommendations to the industry to try to bolster safety and save lives. Among their suggestions, the FAA is urged to create some kind of scenario-based training guidelines, such as simulators, and train pilots on how to operate the helicopter when visibility is low. The FAA is also encouraged to create a technology system that would tell pilots about the terrain conditions and night-imaging.
What Rights to Victims Have?
Anyone injured or killed in an aviation accident, meaning in a crash involving any size plane or helicopter, can file a lawsuit against those responsible for the crash. Responsible parties can include the owner of the aircraft, the pilot, manufacturers of the aircraft’s key parts, maintenance companies, airport operators, or several other entities.
In most cases, the person who is injured and their spouse can file the claim. In cases of wrongful death, the next of kin or estate representative of the person killed can file the claim. Others who could potentially bring a lawsuit against those responsible for the crash are anyone who suffered emotional or financial damage from the accident, such as someone whose home or property was destroyed in a crash.
If a serious injury or death occurs and the parties named in the suit are indeed found liable for the crash, victims are entitled to compensation for their losses. This can include anything from medical bills and health care costs to lost wages and emotional distress. In the event of a death, compensation is typically calculated by how much economic support that person gave their loved ones. Other damages, such as loss of companionship are also available.
Our team of aviation accident lawyers can answer any further questions you may have about helicopter and plane crashes. We provide free, confidential case reviews to injured victims and their families nationwide, so contact our firm today.