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First Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Sightseeing Helicopter Accident

A newly married pilot, a couple celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary and a recently married couple from India were among five people killed last week when a helicopter crashed during a tour of Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam. The cause of the accident is still under federal investigation, but the families of the Indian couple have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the helicopter tour operator. The lawsuit alleges the pilot did not maintain control, did not avoid natural objects like canyon walls, and did not properly respond to losing control of the helicopter.

The NTSB investigators said the engine was changed the day before the fatal flight and the tour company, Sundance Helicopters, says their aircraft are inspected daily. There was no indication of bad weather or other aircraft in the area. The only information currently known is that the helicopter made a 600-foot climb followed by a 90-degree left turn and then an 800-foot descent before it impacted into a canyon wall indicating the pilot may have lost control, a maneuver that is not normal. The plaintiff’s attorney said, “tour pilots are encouraged to push the aircraft’s limits and ignore unpredictable winds that can push the helicopter into a fixed object, such as a mountain. There is an incentive for the pilot to provide a `flight thrill’ to passengers.” NTSB officials said a final report on the crash could take a year; it could be another two to four years to reach a settlement in the case.

The crash brings up the question once again about the safety of the air tour industry. From 1994 through 2008, there were 75 commercial helicopter accidents in the U.S. It will come as no surprise that most of these crashes produced serious personal injuries or death for the occupants of the airplane; aircraft crashes do not produce “fender benders.”

If you have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one in an airplane or helicopter accident, it is essential to retain an attorney who is experienced in and specializes in handling these complicated cases. The attorney will need to have significant knowledge of the field of aviation and the laws applicable to it. The attorney should also have significant experience in the handling, working up, trial preparation, and actual trial of aircraft crash cases. This is a highly specialized field. It often takes an industry expert to locate the right attorney for you and your family. Lawsuit Financial has strategic relationships with aviation law attorneys all over the country, and would be pleased to assist you in finding an aviation legal specialist to handle your case.

These lawsuits are hard fought cases and take considerable time to reach appropriate resolution. How do victims support their families with the loss of income? Many victims are inclined to resolve their valuable cases too early and for too little, simply because they have been without support. Do not settle your case for pennies on the dollar, without determining whether you are a candidate for lawsuit funding. Insurance companies will deliberate delay resolution to persuade you to consider their inadequate offer. Seek your attorney’s advice on whether settlement is wise, or whether lawsuit funding makes sense as a reasonable alternative. Litigation funding could be the best financial alternative for you and your family.