Helicopter crashes are one of the most dangerous accidents that individuals may experience in their lifetime. When these types of crashes occur, the results are almost always devastating, traumatic, and fatal.
According to the Los Angeles Times, a deadly helicopter crash occurred in Cabazon, California, less than two hours from Los Angeles. Two firefighting helicopters collided while putting out a small blaze, resulting in three fatalities. After the two helicopters collided, one of the helicopters successfully landed, but the other one completely destroyed.
The cause of the collision is unknown. The Los Angeles Times article states that “it could be years before officials determine how it happened.” However, Robert Ditchey, an aviation expert, stated that it was a “failure of command and control to have two airplanes in the vicinity of the fire at the same time.” Ditchey believes this was human error or mistake and that eventually, officials will get to the bottom of it.
Two firefighters and one pilot were killed as a result of the collision. While helicopters can collide and crash like this, the news report described a “midair collision of two helicopters” as something quite unusual. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is currently investigating the scene of the accident as well as the helicopters that were involved in the collision. Although it is not believed to be pilot error, pilot medical records, certifications, and training history will be taken into account during the collision investigation. Additional factors like weather data, radar information, and helicopter maintenance records will also be reviewed.
According to Ditchey, The NTSB will most likely concentrate on “ground command.” He explained that visibility did not seem to be a problem because the helicopter accident occurred while it was still daylight, and the weather was clear. He also added that “mechanical failure did not seem likely.”
Nick Schuler, a deputy director of communications with Cal Fire, described several helicopter accidents that have happened in recent years. However, he could not think of a time when two helicopters collided in midair. He stated that “it is so, so rare.”
How frequently do helicopter crashes occur?
General Aviation News reported around 94 helicopter crashes in the United States in 2020. While this number may seem like a lot, it is actually a slight decrease from 2019, which was 121. There were 19 fatal helicopter accidents in 2020 and 24 in 2019. This is about a 20 percent decrease.
Nick Mayhew, industry co-chair of the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team (USHST), states that “our numbers are improving, but we’re not where we want to be yet. We know our aircraft are sound and safe, thanks to efforts by manufacturers. The vast majority of accidents result from human error. Therefore, pilots and operators must continue to strengthen our safety programs holistically, improving training programs, safety culture, and effective use of technology.”
What usually causes helicopter crashes?
Helicopter crashes can happen due to various reasons, such as:
- Pilot mistakes and errors
- Defective or faulty parts
- Improper maintenance
- Poor design
- Inclement weather conditions
- Power line or bird strikes
- Contaminated fuel
- Visibility issues
- Unsafe or heavy loads
- Communication issues
- Air traffic control mistakes or errors
Operating a helicopter is very complex. There are so many steps involved in takeoff, during the flight, and even landing. Therefore, determining what exactly caused a helicopter crash can be extremely difficult.
The types of catastrophic injuries that result from helicopter accidents
Helicopter accidents almost never end well. Any individual involved in an aviation accident has a very high chance of suffering severe and catastrophic injuries as well as passing away either during or after the accident.
If victims survive this type of accident, they will have a long and complicated recovery process ahead of them. In fact, they will likely experience a severely diminished quality of life compared to before the accident. Here are some of the common injuries that result from helicopter accidents:
- Multiple broken and fractured bones
- Severe disfigurement
- Severe burn injuries
- Concussion, contusion, and other traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Amputations or loss of limbs
- Internal bleeding
- Internal organ damage
- Skull fractures
- Broken/fractured neck or severe neck injuries
- Severe scarring
- Crush injuries
- Abdominal and chest injuries
McNicholas & McNicholas LLP fights for firefighters in and near Los Angeles
Helicopter accidents often lead to severe and catastrophic injuries. You want an experienced and skilled catastrophic injury attorney from McNicholas & McNicholas who knows the laws surrounding these types of claims. We have spent over 30 years handling many different catastrophic and deadly crashes.
We also have a long history of fighting for the rights of firefighters. Combined with our extensive experience in wildfire litigation, our team of trial attorneys not only understand the work you do, but also know how to build a successful case for injury victims and families. We know exactly what kind of challenges you may face in your claim; let us help.
Hiring our team will give you access to the resources and guidance that you need to obtain the justice that you deserve. Please call our office in Los Angeles or complete our contact form to schedule your complimentary consultation today. All case reviews are currently being held remotely for your convenience.
This blog is not meant to be taken as legal advice. Every case is unique and fact specific. Therefore, if you need assistance with your legal case, please consult with one of our lawyers directly.
With more than 25 years’ experience as a trial lawyer, Partner Patrick McNicholas exclusively represents victims in personal injury, product liability, sexual assault and other consumer-oriented matters, such as civil rights, aviation disasters and class actions. Learn more about his professional background here.