2008 was one of the deadliest years on record for helicopter crashes . There were 28 deaths and 7 helicopter accidents in the helicopter emergency services industry. Despite this startling trend, there appears to be a general perception in the legal world that helicopter accident lawsuits should not be filed since the odds are stacked against the plaintiff (i.e. the injured victim).
Many of these victims feel discouraged by the response they can get from lawyers and hesitate to file a claim. You should not feel this way. Helicopter crash cases are tough, but not impossible to win. However, it does take a lawyer who knows how to handle these types of cases.
One of the common tactics helicopter companies and government agencies use is to monitor helicopter accident case filings to see if their company/agency is named. They then file an answer to the case and move it to federal court as opposed to state court. This can hurt the plaintiffs attorney since they are probably more experienced arguing in front of a judge and/or jury in their respective state, as opposed to a federal court setting.
Another tactic is claim that the Federal Aviation Act and/or the Airline Deregulation Act applies to the case and, once again, it should be resolved in federal court as opposed to state court.
Even with these tactics, an experienced trial lawyer can combat them with a thorough understanding aviation laws and regulations . For example, most helicopter accidents involve the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and this government agency routinely adopts an accident report written by the potentially at-fault helicopter company or other government agency.
To make matters worse, the plaintiffs attorney is not allowed to look at the accident wreckage and has to wait until the NTSB decides to release it (which can be months, even years). Therefore, an experienced lawyer needs to know that other sources of information like eyewitness testimony is absolutely essential. Another important counter-tactic is to obtain copies of log books and maintenance records of the helicopter. Once again, this provides important information about when/where the crash occurred, whom was operating the helicopter, and the condition of the helicopter at the time of the accident.
Getting all of this information may not lead to a successful outcome for your helicopter crash case, but its an example of how an attorney can combat some of the most common techniques defense lawyers for the big corporations and government agencies use to deny liability for a serious helicopter accident.