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Pilot Disorientation Turns to Tragedy and Wrongful Death Airplane Crash Lawsuit

On August 4, 2008, two families began their planned two-week vacation at a rental home in Gearhart, Oregon. What happened next was devastating. Jason Ketcheson, was piloting a plane that crashed into home killing himself, a passenger, and three children in the home. Other family members inside the home were treated for burns at a local hospital and released. Shortly after the crash, it was determined that Ketcheson had been taking the sleeping aid, Ambien, sometime before the crash. The U.S. military permits pilots to fly as soon as six hours after the use of sleeping aids. Is this really a good idea? I wonder if there is any medical evidence proving that six hours is an adequate amount of time for everyone, in every situation.

Should one pilot a plane six hours after taking a sleeping aid? Although there is no conclusive evidence when Ketcheson last took the medicine or if it impaired his judgment, a low level of the prescription was found in his body. This airplane crash case has been under investigation for over a year, and a final report was just released. It states that Ketcheson failed to maintain control of the plane due to spatial disorientation, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Van McKenny, chief investigator for the NTSB said that spatial disorientation is a common cause of crashes.

“Some of it is inadvertent. People get into situations where there are meteorological conditions before they realize it, and they don’t have enough experience interpreting their instruments,”

Spatial disorientation occurs when a pilot’s perception of direction is not consistent with reality. It is typically a temporary condition resulting from poor weather conditions with low or no visibility. In the case of Ketcheson, there was heavy fog with visibility of about two miles.
“You get a lot of information from your eyes,” McKenny said. “Once you get into the clouds, you lose that information, and you have to interpret your instruments. It’s like sitting in a room without any windows and traveling 100 mph.”

Because most of the plane was destroyed in the crash, investigators could not determine if the instruments had malfunctioned. To add to this tragedy, it was discovered that there was only one working window in the rental house. Would that have change the fate for these families?

Relatives of the victims have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the estate of Ketcheson and his employer. The lawsuit accuses Ketcheson of negligence for flying the aircraft while under the influence of Ambien, and that he was negligent in following flight rules, controlling the aircraft, and taking the proper emergency measures. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for the death of 10-year-old Julia Reimann, and severe injuries suffered by Ruth Reimann (her mother), Christopher (her brother) and Sarah (her sister).

Airplane crashes, are usually catastrophic resulting in serious injuries and death to passengers and crew aboard the plane. Depending on the crash, a plane crash can claim the lives of those on the ground, as well. This case has already taken over a year to resolve, and may take an additional year or more to reach a settlement. Legal finance services can assist a grieving family through the lengthy litigation process. Lawsuit Financial provides lawsuit funding in airplane crash cases. This type of legal funding may increase the value of your case, because it will lessen the pressure you feel to settle the case early in order to pay necessary expenses.

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