Wes Pittman Comments on Destin Helicopter Crash
Most of the transportation-related accidents we hear about as a Panama City personal injury law firm involve automobiles. We also frequently work with Panama City accident victims whose cases involved bicycles, motorcycles, pedestrians, or a mix of these modes of transport. While the cases are rarer, the Panama City injury lawyer at The Pittman Firm is also prepared to represent those injured in plane or helicopter accidents, including passengers and victims on the ground.
Over the weekend, Northwest Florida Daily News reported on an accident involving a privately-owned helicopter in Destin. The pilot of the Robinson R44 Raven helicopter told the responding officials from the Destin Fire Department that he had a mechanical problem with the chopper. As a result, the pilot made a hard landing in a sand pit that sits behind the Days Inn hotel on U.S. Highway 98 at approximately 3:45 P.M. on Saturday May 19. The rear end of the helicopter, including the tail piece, broke off from the body and the craft's propeller was also damaged. All three individuals on-board, the pilot and two passengers, were able to exit through the helicopter's doors. The fuselage was not damaged and the craft did not catch fire, although some fluids did leak and required clean-up.
The aircraft was involved in the tourism field and owned by Timberview Helicopters. It had flown out of the Destin Airport carrying two sightseers. Metal pieces torn from the tailpiece were collected and the helicopter's body was removed from the sand pit onto the ground of a nearby empty parking lot before being released back to the owner.
Although the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office contacted the National Transportation Safety Board, officials declined to visit the accident scene because no injuries resulted from the crash. A deputy from Sheriff's Office reported that it appeared that the female pilot was able to set the helicopter down easily. This view was reiterated by a witness who had been staying at the hotel and who had substantial helicopter training. He reported that the pilot appeared to have executed a textbook emergency landing, despite the apparent significant problems with the craft.
Helicopter accidents can fall into several categories, with the three major causes being:
- Operational Error, including failure to properly train the pilot and failure to operate the helicopter within safety guidelines;
- Mechanical Malfunction, including failure of a component to function as intended and unsafe design choices; and
- Electrical Malfunction, including an electrical short or an electrical source failure.
Where injuries occur to passengers or to people on the ground, a civil claim may exist against a number of different parties including the pilot, the company that owns the craft, and the manufacturer of the helicopter.
Successfully representing victims of Florida helicopter crashes, like other forms of vehicular accidents, requires a law firm that knows the law and has the technical ability to analyze the facts of an individual case. The Pittman Firm has the knowledge and experience necessary to help injured Floridians recover compensation in a wide-range of accidents.