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Iowa Jury Awards 11.6 Million in Wrongful Death/Serious Injury Helicopter Crash

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A Polk County, Iowa jury has awarded $11.6 in several injury and wrongful death verdicts. The lawsuit resulted from a June 2006 crash that killed a cameraman and seriously injured a film producer, during the filming of a local baseball movie.

The trial lasted five weeks and was, actually, four separate lawsuits which were combined for trial. The verdict returned $7.2 million to the cameraman’s widow and $4.2 million to the film’s producer. The producer suffered very serious, almost fatal, injuries, and had multiple six figure medical and hospital bills.

The accident happened duirng an arial shot for the movie, “Final Season”, based on a local high school’s 1991 championship season. The chopper got tangled up on some power lines and went down in what was reported as an ‘horrific helicopter crash’.

The jury found the pilot, who was also seriously injured, 75 percent at fault for the cameraman’s death, and was ordered to pay 75 percent of his award. The movie owners were found responsible for the additional 25 percent. Strangely, the jury found the pilot 100 percent responsible for the producer’s injuries, pain & suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses. The pilot’s employer, Rital Copter Service, was also a defendant, but, apparently, will not have to participate in payment of the jury’s verdict.

According to Helicopter Association International (HAI), there have been just over 1700 helicopter crashes in the last 10 years. The statistic are remarkably consistent; the highest number of incidents was 214 in 2003 and the lowest number was 162, ironically, in 2006, the year of the crash in Iowa. Most of the crashes occurred in personal use and instructional helicopters, with only 5% occurring during business use.

For those IB members who are currently engaged in helicopter crash litigatioin or those who may, at some point handle such a case, Lawsuit Financial has provided legal finance for several airplane and helicopter crash cases and is available to provide financial assistance to your clients. HAI has published a safety manual that may be of assistance in evaluating pilot conduct and helicopter safety.

The attorneys’ names who handled this trial to an excellent result were not named in the article linked hereto. I offer my congratulations, anyway, on a job well done. My condolences to the family members of those injured and killed. Hopefully, safety issues were addressed following this unfortunate incident; money cannot restore health or bring back those killed in incidents like this one.

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  1. Mike Bryant says:
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    Interesting tie into the funding issue. Good to see Justice being served.