Emergency Medical Service aircraft save lives. But they crash all too often. In fact, EMS helicopters have the highest fatal accident rate in all of aviation.
Determining the cause of the EMS aircraft accident is especially challenging. EMS aircraft typically don’t have voice recorders, so there’s no audio of what was happening in the cockpit. Nor do they have traditional flight data recorders. Weather conditions that may have contributed to the crash frequently clear by the time investigators arrive on site. EMS aircraft crash cases require aviation lawyers with specialized knowledge and experience. If you or a family member has been involved in a EMS airplane or HEMS accident, learn how we can help by sending us a message or calling us at (650) 453-3600.
We have years of experience in aviation accident law generally, and in EMS aircraft crash cases in particular. Our firm has represented victims of all types of aviation accidents throughout the U.S. and around the globe. We have the resources and ability to take your case to trial. It’s the proven ability to go to court that often motivates a defendant to offer higher settlement amounts during pre-trial negotiations.
We offer legal representation on a contingency fee arrangement. You pay your attorney for legal services only if we recover compensation.
Air ambulance crashes present complex factual and legal issues that require a deep understanding of several unrelated areas of law. For example, in some states, EMS crashes bring to bear special legal doctrines from the law of medical malpractice. You may have to file a special notice before bringing your claim, and you may have an unusually short statute of limitations. It’s important for those who have been injured or lost love ones in an EMS helicopter or fixed-wing crash to discuss their situation with an aviation law specialist soon after the accident.
Most EMS helicopters that crash were heading to the hospital with a patient on board. But many have on board only the crew, typically comprised of a pilot, a paramedic, and a flight nurse. Regardless, some of the most common reasons that EMS helicopters crash include:
• Weather: When a helicopter inadvertently flies into clouds or fog, the pilot can quickly become disoriented, lose control of the helicopter, and crash. To avoid poor visibility conditions, especially at night, the pilot needs accurate weather information. Such information is available for airports but not for the off-airport locations that EMS helicopters typically service.
• Unprepared landing sites: Airport helipads are built to be firm and level to ensure that the helicopter will not roll over when it touches down. Those helipads are located away from wires, trees, and other obstacles. But HEMS pilots must accept landing areas that have been neither surveyed for hazards nor otherwise prepared for a helicopter landing.
• Terrain: “Controlled flight into terrain” is the phrase that describes an otherwise routine flight crashing into a mountain, ridge, or hillside that the pilot did not see. Most “CFIT” accidents happen when it’s dark, especially on a moonless night, or when poor weather limits visibility.
• Crew fatigue: Almost half of all EMS helicopter crashes take place between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., the period known as the “back side of the clock.” Fatigue and darkness are a deadly mix.
• Mechanical failure: Because helicopters typically fly close to the ground, any mechanical issue is serious. Hydraulic flight controls can fail, making the helicopter difficult or impossible to land. Engines sometimes quit and, on rare occasions, rotor blades have been known to separate from the rotor hub. The EMS helicopter is a machine especially intolerant of mechanical discrepancies.
When you call Danko Meredith Trial Lawyers, we will immediately launch an investigation into your case. We work with subject matter experts and specialists to give every case the resources it needs to succeed. Once we uncover the cause of the EMS helicopter or fixed-wing crash that caused your injuries or the death of a loved one, we will file your injury claim against the correct defendant or defendants. And we’ll do all that within the applicable deadline.
It can take years for the NTSB to complete its report. And that report almost always favors the defendants. It is important to have an attorney with experience in EMS aircraft accident cases by your side from the outset. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries from a medical helicopter crash or air ambulance crash anywhere in America, contact us. We can help you secure fair financial compensation for your loss.