Air Ambulance Accident Lawyer for Helicopter Med-Evac California

[Page Updated 06/18/2022] While air medical services are essential, there continues to be concern about the safety of medical service flights.

Sheriff rescue chopper

Injured by an air ambulance?

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Many things cause members of the flight crew and wounded patients to find themselves severely injured or fatally wounded.

A medical helicopter crash is not the most common occurrence in the world. However, when they happen, they can completely alter the lives of those involved and their loved ones.

If you or one of your loved ones has been injured in an air ambulance crash in Los Angeles, you may be entitled to compensation.

Los Angeles Helicopter Accident Attorneys / Practice / Air Ambulance Injury Lawyers

You need professional legal advice and representation to get the settlement you deserve if there are any entitlements. Michael Ehline, with his vast experience spanning over a decade and a half, can evaluate your case and expertly plan the way forward.

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Initiate a free initial consultation with Ehline Law Firm in California by calling (833) LETS-SUE!

The Lines of Liability in Air Ambulance Accidents

Whenever air ambulances result in accidents, it’s not always straightforward to determine who is at fault. Ground ambulances make it simple since typical car accident rules apply. However, when air transportation methods are used, things take a more complicated turn.

Typically, the responsibility lies with:

  • The pilot, who may have made an error in judgment or may have been negligent in controlling the aircraft

  • Air traffic control exhibiting negligence, which led to the crash

  • Air ambulance manufacturers may potentially be the problem if the crash was the result of faulty components

  • Ground paramedics and the police may also be the negligent parties at play

A combination of these groups can be held liable. If the patient dies, a surviving family member can initiate a suit. Speak with an experienced air ambulance accident attorney such as Michael Ehline to understand your situation.

Air Ambulance Accident History

As indicated, airborne emergency medical service flights have presented a cause for concern based on documented incidents. Below is a look at some of the unfortunate situations that have occurred in the past.

“Mercy Air 2” Cajon Pass Crash of 2006

The Los Angeles Times, alongside other news outlets, covered this heart-wrenching occurrence, leaving three crew members employed at Mercy Air Service dead. Mercy Air Service inc., which falls under parent company Air Methods, Corp., was and continues to be the largest among medevac providers in the United States.

After having flown a woman injured in a horse-riding accident to Loma Linda University Medical Center, a service helicopter with the “Mercy Air 2” call sign crashed into a Cajon Pass peak south of Hesperia that was masked by fog.

When the weather is good, pilots fly under visual flight rules instead of being handled by air traffic control. This was how Mercy Air 2 flew leading up to the incident. The San Bernardino sheriff’s and fire departments, the FAA, and the National Transportation Safety Board would be investigated.

The NTSB’s eventual report on the Mercy Air helicopter crash would indicate that the crew members likely met their untimely demise because of night conditions, dense fog, and mountainous terrain, which meant the pilot failed to maintain the required clearance.

The company grounded most of its Southern California helicopters a day after the ordeal. Craig Yale, vice president of corporate development of the parent company, described the tragedy as a significant loss of very good people.

Federal Aviation Administration Cessna 414A Report of 2006

This time, it would be a plane crash instead of a helicopter crash. This incident took place in Hawaii. No problems had been reported during the flight. However, based on a Honolulu Advertiser article, a statement by the Federal Aviation Administration indicated that the air ambulance lost engine power before it crashed.

Confirmation was also provided that the flight had been cleared for landing before crashing. Three people were present on the aircraft, and none managed to survive the ordeal.

N600CE Bell 407 Crash of 2009

This Texas-based incident saw no casualties. But the incident did injure the crew. The NTSB provided the report on this air ambulance matter. Shortly after taking off from the Decatur, Texas XA57 Wise Regional Health System Helipad, a Bell 407 helicopter would have a hard landing because of a sudden loss of engine power.

Severe injuries were sustained by the flight medic and the commercial pilot. The flight nurse, while injured, only sustained minor damage. This was a single-engine helicopter.

N417AE Eurocopter AS 250B2

Georgetown, South Carolina, was the size of this September 2009 accident. Omniflight Helicopters Incorporated owned the Eurocopter unit at the center of the crash. Based on the information provided by the NTSB, the helicopter crashed near Georgetown County Airport.

This demonstrated what can happen when there’s negligence on the part of air ambulance companies. The organization stated that the helicopter had no autopilot functionality, terrain avoidance warning program, or night vision system. Furthermore, it was not approved for operation in inclement weather.

The Stance of the National Transportation Safety Board

With the best interest of public safety in mind, the NTSB sent out a call for a stricter set of safety measures where the medical air ambulance industry was concerned back in 2006. It would go on to make similar comments about the operations of the service providers in the future.

Between 2002 and 2005, for example, there were 55 air ambulance accidents, 20 of which happened with a patient on board.

Typical Air Ambulance Accident Causes

One of the biggest challenges with these medical air methods is that they don’t have flight plans and schedules conducive to permanently ensuring that favorable conditions are present. Therefore you often find that takeoff and landing conditions are less than ideal.

Lump that in with the potentially liable parties highlighted above, and your list of typical reasons for these accidents is as follows:

  • Negligence by air traffic controllers

  • Inclement weather conditions for flying

  • Lack of an adequate maintenance calendar for the aircraft

  • Defective design or manufacture

  • Pilot errors

  • Ground paramedic or police errors

The Danger of Air Ambulances Crashing Compared to a Ground Ambulance

Los Angeles has laws governing how car accidents are handled, and these statutes have largely been left unchanged.

Therefore, when a ground ambulance is taking a patient to the hospital crashes, evidence is taken for validation purposes, and medical attention is provided where necessary ahead of compensation negotiating.

While death is certainly possible for the victims, there is a high likelihood that they’re going to survive. Conversely, air ambulance accidents are more likely to have fatal implications. Even if they don’t, injuries tend to be severe.

You may find that your quality of life takes a complete nosedive. It may be so bad that family members must take care of you.

Greater risk for permanent damage is at play, which is why lawyers are so important. Remember, you can contact Ehline Law Firm for a free case evaluation.

Air Ambulance Crash Statistics

Even for experienced pilots and crew members, it’s a scary prospect to think that an air ambulance, which is supposed to be saving people by flying these hurt patients badly to the hospital, could be the reason for a life ending.

Several references were made to the NTSB earlier. A part of what the body does is catalog data on each case where medevac planes or helicopters that transported patients were fatal for the victims.

You could think of this as being for general information purposes, as well as for taking action from an informed standpoint in the disconnected and continental United States.

Interesting Statistics

Here are a couple of statistics to pay attention to:

  • There were 217 deaths reported because of helicopter crash incidents from 1998 through 2015

  • These reports came from a total of 81 helicopters

  • Most people died in 2008 from these helicopter crashes, with 28 deaths being reported in that year alone

  • During the same period, there were 220 non-fatal injury incidents during the same period

  • 77% of incidents were from crew errors in bad weather and other collision incidents

  • 17% were from mechanical malfunctions

  • Unknown factors accounted for 5% of helicopter crashes

Air Ambulance Ride Safety Concerns

Private companies are incentivized because air ambulance reimbursements are pretty high. Concerns have been raised about the fact that the for-profit element of the industry has increased so much over the years.

There are no Medicaid provisions for medical helicopter flights, meaning private companies are more likely to use cheap and old helicopters alongside minimal maintenance and training. By cutting cost centers, they increase their profits.

Flying in these ambulances is getting patients and crew members killed is also a concern because of how complex the cases are, requiring extensive investigation. That means attorneys representing victims and their families must be equipped to navigate the complexities involved.

Charges Handed Down By Air Ambulance Companies

Transporting victims to hospitals has enormous cost implications for them regardless of how quickly an air ambulance company responded to allow emergency teams to operate. For example, in 2018, Dr. Naveed Khan, a radiologist, ended up with a 6-inch wide flesh gap wound after having a two-seater all-terrain vehicle he was operating land on his arm.

An immediate trauma center visit was necessary, but his arm could not be saved. While still in the hospital bed, not three days after the incident, he was informed of the $56,000 cost he had to take care of. His insurance only covered $11,972.

This number is just one example of the charges you contend with in these situations.

Retain an Experienced California-Based Air Ambulance Accident Lawyer

The incident reported by the Los Angeles Times was tragic, as were all the other crashes that occurred when an air ambulance company was meant to be providing safe transportation to the hospital when there was limited time concerning the injury at hand.

You need an expert air ambulance accident attorney if you hope to recover compensation for yourself or a loved one. Only the best lawyers, not the FAA, can help those who may have been seriously hurt or killed during one of these incidents while aboard an emergency medical aircraft.

Lawyers, such as Michael Ehline, are well seasoned in these areas and can expertly navigate the complex landscape required to get the negligent party’s insurance company to pay whatever cost is necessary. But insurance won’t let you recover a dime without news of a proper investigation and evidence from doctors, a coroner, etc.

This is an offering intended to save people, and the responsible parties must be held accountable when they fail to do so. Your lawyer network is there to fight for a fair settlement on your behalf. Share all the information you can with your attorney group for the best results. Remember that the attorney-client relationship protects your confidentiality.

Conclusion

Doctors respond to emergency incidents consistently. That is their business in accordance with their Hippocratic oath. But patients must make it in one piece to do so. Unfortunately, those who need a doctor’s attention and are being transported by air emergency services authorities may never make it because of an untimely accident during the transportation process.

Receive a Free Legal Consultation With Air Ambulance Accident Lawyers in Los Angeles

If you or a loved one was a victim of such an incident, you may be entitled to justice in the form of maximum financial compensation. For more information, fill in the Ehline Law Firm website contact form with your name.

Include a valid email address, and the details of your incident, or call at (833) LETS-SUE. Your first individual case consultation is free, so schedule it today! Your family is counting on you to hire the right team of lawyers. Don’t let them down. Show them respect by keeping the pay flowing as you make efforts to heal and get back on your feet.

Citations:


Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline in Tuxedo

Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer on the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.


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