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Who Is Liable in a Helicopter Accident?

Alaska has beautiful geography to explore. Whether it’s glaciers, rivers, or the North Pacific Ocean, breath-taking views are abundant. This is why helicopter tours around the Last Frontier are so popular. Helicopters can hover above ancient glaciers and navigate through majestic mountains, allowing passengers to soak in the scenery in a way that small airplanes can’t.

But, what happens when things take a turn for the worst?

Five Potential Liable Parties

Helicopter malfunctions can result in life-altering, sometimes fatal, crashes that leave survivors with physical, emotional, and financial burdens they wouldn’t have otherwise. When this is the case, who is responsible? Below, we explore five potential parties that could be held liable in the event of a helicopter crash:

1.Tour Service

Helicopter tour services are held to the same standards as commercial airline operators. Unfortunately, these small businesses operate with little oversight. This can result in a failure to maintain the aircraft or inadequately train pilots. A negligent charter service could be held responsible for any accidents that occur. 

2. Air Traffic Control

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Clear for takeoff”? Air traffic control  advises pilots when conditions are safe for flight. Let’s say a pilot is trying to navigate through a thick layer of fog. While onboard gauges read an altitude of 15,000 feet, with low visibility they could be headed  towards the side of a mountain. Some might argue this is the pilot’s fault. However, the pilot must receive special clearance to fly. That’s why the party allowing for flight to occur, air traffic control, could be held liable.

3. Pilot

Flying yourself as well as others is a substantial responsibility.  In the blink of an eye, one mistake can cost the well-being of everyone on board. In most cases, it’s understood that a pilot is trying to do everything in their nature to keep passengers safe. However, this isn’t enough to clear them of liability in the event they make an error resulting in a crash. Here are three examples of pilot error:

  • Abrupt use of the throttle
  • Failure to maintain proper altitude
  • Using too much/little takeoff speed

4. Passenger

Before a helicopter flight, everyone on board must acknowledge the rules and guidelines of the aircraft. These are established to keep everyone safe and ensure that the flight goes as planned. If a passenger doesn’t comply with these orders, it could jeopardize the safely of everyone onboard. For example, if a passenger unbuckles their seat belt and moves toward the cockpit, it could impair the pilot from doing their job. In this case the pilot would have to attend to the passenger, temporarily withdrawing control of the aircraft. In a situation like this, the passenger would be held liable for the crash.

5. Manufacturer

A helicopter is made up of various working parts. Each fragment of the aircraft is integral in keeping the chopper airborne. If there’s a malfunction on the helicopter, it could be due to a manufacturing error.  For example, if a helicopter experiences engine failure caused by a problem with the way the engine was manufactured, no fail-safe backups will kick into gear. The results are often catastrophic.

How an Attorney Can Help

If you were injured in a helicopter accident, or you lost a loved one in a fatal collision, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries or losses. The Law Offices of David Henderson is here to advocate for you.

For a free consultation, contact us online or reach us via phone today: (888) 295-6566!