West Virginia Helicopter Crashes Attorneys
Helicopter crashes can be catastrophic for the pilot and the occupants, often ending up with few or no survivors. With a total accident rate of 3.62 per 100,000 flight hours and a fatal accident rate of 0.72 per 100,000 flight hours, helicopters are significantly more likely to crash compared to commercial airplanes.
On the 22nd of June 2022, a Vietnam-era helicopter crashed in Logan County, West Virginia. The crash – in which six people were killed – has raised questions about helicopter safety once again. Back in 2020, when Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash, the issue of helicopter safety became a huge talking point across the world.
If you have been injured or if you have lost a loved one in a helicopter crash, you need effective, aggressive legal representation to get the compensation you deserve. At Bailey, Javins & Carter, we have more than five decades of experience in handling catastrophic accident claims and have obtained some of the biggest settlements and jury awards for our clients over the years. Our West Virginia helicopter accident lawyers can advocate for your rights, hold all the negligent parties accountable, and make sure you are fully compensated for all your losses.
Common Causes of Helicopter Crashes in West Virginia
The most common factors that can contribute to a helicopter accident include:
- Faulty mechanical parts
- Faulty electrical components
- Pilot error (due to inadequate training or due to fatigue, poor decision making, distractions, or performing risky maneuvers)
- Air traffic controller error (due to distractions, fatigue, or negligence)
- Lack of proper maintenance and servicing
- Inclement weather conditions
Data shows that pilot error is the most common cause of helicopter crashes in the country. This is largely due to the fact that most types of helicopters cannot be trimmed and need to be flown manually. Unlike a commercial aircraft pilot, a helicopter pilot cannot afford to take their hands off the control surfaces for any length of time. It increases the risk of human error considerably.
Moreover, due to the compact size and increased maneuverability of the helicopter, pilots may tend to take more risks than they would with an aircraft. It also increases the risk of accidents to a significant extent.
Types of Injuries that Can Result from a Helicopter Crash
Helicopter crashes in West Virginia and elsewhere can result in extremely serious, life-altering injuries or death of the victims. Injuries may include:
- Bone fractures
- Limb loss
- Burn injuries
- Crush injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Injuries to internal organs
According to experts, injuries to the Dorsolumbar spine are particularly common in non-fatal helicopter crashes – accounting for nearly 33% of all injuries sustained by the victims. Data also shows that blunt force trauma (particularly to the head, chest, and ribs) is the most common cause of death in fatal helicopter crashes.
Who can be Held Liable for a Helicopter Crash?
Depending on the circumstances, one or more of the following parties can be held liable for a helicopter crash in West Virginia.
- The pilot
- The owner of the helicopter
- The company or individual that the pilot works for
- The company that manufactured the defective mechanical or electrical component
- The engineer or any other party responsible for inspecting the helicopter
- The company or contractor responsible for servicing the helicopter
It’s critical to note that in many cases, helicopter accidents are caused as a result of a combination of factors – rather than a single factor. When these factors align, it can have a cumulative effect, which often results in a serious accident. It’s commonly referred to as the Swiss cheese model. What it means is that it is not uncommon for more than one party to be held liable for a helicopter accident.
Recoverable Damages in a West Virginia Helicopter Accident Claim
Depending on the severity of the injuries you suffered, you might be able to recover both economic and non-economic damages in a helicopter accident personal injury claim. (The damages would differ in a wrongful death claim if you lost a loved one in a helicopter accident.)
The injured victims may be treated at the West Virginia University Hospitals in Morgantown, WV; Charleston Area Medical Center in Charleston, WV; St. Mary’s Medical Center, Huntington, WV; Beckley ARH Hospital, Beckley, WV; Berkeley Medical Center, Martinsburg, WV or other leading healthcare facilities.
- Medical expenses (ambulance charges, emergency medical care, diagnostic tests, surgery, hospitalization charges, physician’s charges, and prescription medications)
- Cost of future medical treatment and care
- Rehabilitation expenses (including the cost of physical therapy, vocational therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy)
- Cost of assistive devices and upgrades needed to accommodate your short-term or long-term disability
- Lost earnings
- Loss of earning capacity
- Cost of repairing or replacing the items damaged in the accident
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
What Damages are Recoverable in a West Virginia Wrongful Death Case?
In a helicopter crash wrongful death case in West Virginia, you may be entitled to receive compensation for the following potential damages from the at-fault parties:
- Medical costs related to the decedent’s crash-related injury
- Loss of earnings, covering the estimated value of income that the decedent might have reasonably been expected to earn had they lived
- Loss of the decedent’s care, protection, services, and support
- Mental anguish, sorrow, and solace of the surviving family members
- Loss of companionship, society, comfort, advice, guidance, and kindly offices
- Funeral/burial expenses
Who can File a Wrongful Death Claim in West Virginia?
Unlike some other states where the family members of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim, in West Virginia, only the executor or the personal representative of the decedent’s estate is permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, any damages awarded in the case may be distributed among the following parties:
- Surviving spouse
- Children (including adopted children or stepchildren)
- Siblings and parents of the deceased
- Any family members that were financially dependent on the decedent at the time of their death
In a situation where none of the above-listed claimants exist, the awarded compensation would be distributed in accordance with the terms of the decedent’s will. In absence of a will, inheritance laws of West Virginia would apply for this distribution.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a West Virginia Helicopter Accident Claim
Under West Virginia law, the time limit for filing a helicopter accident claim – or any tort claim for that matter – is set at two years (starting from the date of the accident). The same time limit is applicable for wrongful death claims as well.
Get the Experienced Helicopter Accident Attorneys in West Virginia on Your Side
If you have been injured or lost a family member in a helicopter crash, the seasoned personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Bailey, Javins & Carter can help you. For over 50 years, we have been fighting tirelessly for the rights of injury victims in West Virginia and have recovered millions in damages.
We can launch a thorough investigation into your accident, identify all the parties that can be held liable, gather the evidence we need to build the strongest possible case against them and fight aggressively to obtain the best possible settlement offer. Our lawyers have extensive courtroom experience and can take your case to trial if needed to recover every dollar you are owed.
Our legal team has access to a large network of subject matter experts from different industries – including and especially the aviation industry – and has sufficient financial resources to take on the at-fault parties – no matter how powerful they might be.
To find out how you can get justice and what your legal options are, call us today at 800-497-0234 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced West Virginia helicopter crash attorneys.