The two highest jury verdicts in the United States in helicopter crash trials
The two largest pre-trial aviation settlements in U.S. History for a single injury in a helicopter crash
"This book is an essential volume...by accomplished trial lawyer Gary Robb, who has used these same techniques in a brilliant career..."
Helicopter Crash Litigation by Gary C. Robb was first published in 2010. The Second Edition of this acclaimed book was published in 2015.
Helicopter crashes within the United States are occurring with alarming frequency. One-half (1/2) of the entire worldwide civil helicopter fleet operates in the United States, and thirty-six percent (36%) of all helicopter crashes occur here. From 2001 to 2005, the accident rate for civil helicopter use per 100,000 flight hours was forty percent (40%) higher than that for general aviation fixed-wing aircraft. The helicopter industry itself has acknowledged that the current helicopter accident rate is “excessive and unsustainable.”
Helicopters are very difficult to fly. The typical helicopter flight mission places an already difficult-to-fly aircraft into an even more difficul and hazardous environment. The lower flight altitude of helicopters as compared with fixed-wing aircraft brings them in closer proximity to on-ground hazards such as radio control towers, utility wires, mountains, or tall buildings. As a result of the powerful impact forces involved in a helicopter crash, the likelihood of those occupants’ sustaining severe and disabling injuries and fatalities is substantial.
In this February 2014 article, Mr. Robb explains that when a helicopter crashes, the wreckage can leave a trail of clues that leads all the way back to the aircrafts design and manufacture. Investigating these cases requires a unique blend of knowledge of aviation, engineering, pilot training, and weather. Mr. Robb discusses the painstakingly detailed process he has developed over the past thirty years to successfully prosecute his clients’ helicopter crash cases.
The causes of helicopter crashes are often markedly different from the causes of airplane crashes because of their unique and even peculiar design, flight, and handling features combined with their commonly high-risk mission profiles. Given the unique flight and performance characteristics, failure modes, and crash scenarios of helicopters, Mr. Robb calls upon his many years of experience to identify the following 10 indispensable steps to maximize the prospects of success in helicopter crash litigation.
1. Learn the basics of helicopter flight and operation
2. Interview all eye and ear witnesses to the helicopter crash
3. Determine the most likely cause(s) of the helicopter crash
4. Assess survivability and crashworthiness issues
5. Given the French domination of the U.S. helicopter market, be prepared to conduct extensive discovery in France
6. Utilize Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to conduct discovery in U.S. military helicopter crashes
7. Retain experts with specific training and expertise in helicopter accident investigation and failure analysis
8. Arrange for purchase of exemplar helicopter components and systems for comparative testing
9. Use actual components from helicopter wreckages to demonstrate product defect
10. Teach the jury about helicopter flight and operation in opening statement and throughout trial
Our law firm has been on the leading edge of advocating for Crash Resistant Fuel Systems (CRFS) in helicopters for almost 20 years (read about Mr. Robb’s work on CRFS in the Wall Street Journal). This technology has been available since the 1960s, but the helicopter industry has resisted utilizing it. As a result, even a routine hard landing can result in a devastating and disabling post-crash fire. We have handled many of these cases, including the two highest results in U.S. history, a $100 million settlement for the 90% burn injuries to David Repsher in a 2015 helicopter crash, and one of the very first substantial settlements in 2001 for Chana Daskal's burn injuries sustained in a Grand Canyon helicopter crash.LEARN MORE
Jury verdict for a deceased pilot (United States record).
Settlement for flight nurse’s severe burn injuries in crash of medical helicopter (United States record).
Jury verdict for a passenger killed in a Life Flight helicopter.
Settlement in Daskal v. Aerospatiale, et al. (severe burn injuries in helicopter crash).
Jury verdict for fatal crash of Bell Medical helicopter (Kentucky record).
Settlement for wrongful death in Life Net helicopter crash (Nebraska record).
Jury Verdict for crash of touring helicopter in Las Vegas.
Settlement for the deaths in air ambulance helicopter crash caused by pilot texting.
Jury verdict in Schlotzhauer v. Bristol, et al (wrongful death in Iowa helicopter crash).
Settlement in Pearson v. Rolls-Royce Corporation, et al (wrongful death of flight nurse in Indiana helicopter crash).
Settlement in Langenbau v. Med-Trans (wrongful death in Iowa crash).
Settlement prior to lawsuit being filed (death of flight nurse in Alabama air ambulance crash).
Some of the most common flight missions are listed below:
Over the last decade there has been a disturbingly high rate of fatal helicopter crashes involving site-seeing tours. The NTSB has recorded more than 140 site-seeing flight accidents nationally since January 2000.Read More
There is a recurring safety problem involving numerous news helicopters involved in a police chase or other on-ground events simultaneously having the pilots report live while in flight. In October 2007, the NationalRead More
There is a recurring safety problem involving numerous news helicopters involved in a police chase or other on-ground events simultaneously having the pilots report live while in flight.Read More
Helicopters are being used increasingly in the utilities industry for the inspection and maintenance of their transmission lines. This flight mission brings the helicopter in close proximity to horizontally strung utility linesRead More
Helicopters are the aircraft of choice in the rescuing of stranded snow skiers, adventurers lost in the wilderness, or people trapped on disabled sailing vessels. Many of the same considerations for airContact Us
Police use of helicopters is increasingly common in most urban areas. Given the uncertain unanticipated flight path upon which such helicopters may embark, a separate spotter or observer is a must.risk evaluationContact Us
Use of helicopters for private transportation has increased in recent years given the congested nature of many urban areas. It has become common for many downtown office buildings to install a helipad for use ofContact Us
More than 600 helicopters currently operate in the Gulf of Mexico off-shore fleet taking almost 1.3 million flights and carrying almost 3 million passengers per year. The use of helicopters to transport workers and other perContact Us
Uncontained wild fires and massive forest fires are devastating events. Helicopters were first utilized to combat wild fires in southern California in 1947 and have been utilized extensively ever since. A standardized methoContact Us