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Hot Air Balloon Crash & Wronful Death Liability

Posted on September 26, 2016

Most serious personal injuries and even most wrongful deaths can often be prevented by simply following the safety regulations and rules put in place. The rules of the land are in place to keep citizens safe and those who do not follow these laws can and should be held accountable. The laws of Tulsa and Oklahoma are set in place to protect against the threat of injury and death but are often disregarded when one is negligent or ignorant to know what the laws actually are. Read below of an example of negligence that cost the lives of 16 people.

A Hot Air Ballon Accident

In late July of 2016, a hot air balloon crashed in Texas, killing all 16 people on board. The balloon was flying lower than usual prior to it hitting a set of power lines before it crashed to the ground. The accident marked the deadliest hot air balloon crash in United States history, with the previous most deadly accident occurring in Colorado in 1993 where six people were killed after an explosion in the gas canister caused the balloon to crash. The balloon company responsible for the accident in Texas was recently given a D+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, leaving many wondering why they were not investigated before the accident.

This accident quickly grabbed the attention of safety advocates who have sought to enforce more stringent regulations but have previously failed when the Federal Aviation Administration denied requests for more strict regulations for hot air balloon operators. Although the company responsible for the balloon in the accident was insured, their policy coverage will be sparse comparative to the split among the families of the victims. The standard balloon operator insurance policy that is carried by most balloon operators, including the Texas company here, has a limit of $100,000 per person for bodily injury. Additionally, the policy is typically capped off at one million dollars per accident, leaving all of the families to split roughly that sum. While states such as California have commercially mandated aviation insurance requirements for hot air balloons, Texas does not include a mandate in their insurance code and there is no federal insurance requirement for the same. Many critics are taking this opportunity to point out many of Texas’s lax rules when it comes to business ventures requirements for less coverage.

Questions of liability are continuing to be investigated due to the pilot’s negligence. While initially it is reported there was no evidence of any problems or malfunctions prior to the crash, it is being questioned why the balloon was quickly descending in the middle of its route. There is potential liability not only for the owner of the balloon company but also the pilot’s family, as some victim’s family may seek damages from a life insurance policy, especially after learning of his prior history. Over the next several months and potentially years, a court may have to determine where liability and responsibility lies, hopefully setting a guideline for future aviation standards regarding hot air balloons.

Hire A Tulsa Liability Lawyer

If you or someone you know has suffered injury due to the negligence of another party, please do not hesitate to reach out to the experienced and knowledgeable team of attorneys at the office of Charles Bryan Alred, PC to discuss your case. Contact our office using our website or call us at 918-745-9960 for a free initial consultation with one of our skilled legal professionals.