The brave men and women in our Armed Forces depend on high tech aircraft to help protect and defend our country. Servicemen and women risk their lives every day as they operate within complex environments, however, that risk should not include mechanical failures that result from design or manufacturing defects or aircraft maintenance negligence performed by civilian contractors. Unfortunately, defective products in planes and helicopters too often lead to serious military aircraft crashes that result in death and injuries.
Every year, too many members of the U.S. military are killed in a helicopter or military plane crash due to faulty manufacturing, design flaws, or maintenance negligence that could have been prevented.
Legal Rights after a Military Plane Crash or Military Helicopter Crash
Servicemen and women injured in military aircraft crashes often feel that they have limited legal options. The law, known as the Feres Doctrine, does not allow those who serve in the Armed Forces or their surviving family members to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Government if the service member is killed or injured in or by a military aircraft crash.
Fortunately, there are important exceptions that allow a service member, or his family, to seek just compensation if he or she is killed or injured by a defective product used in both civilian and military aircraft, or negligence that is external to the government. For example, a lawsuit may be filed against an aircraft manufacturer or civilian maintenance facility alleging negligence if a military plane crash or helicopter crash is caused by a faulty product or negligent maintenance.
A military aviation lawsuit might also be filed if a crash was caused in part by civilians who were negligent in performing maintenance on military aircraft or components, or if a crash was caused by negligent civilian air traffic controllers.
Legal Rights of Civilians Injured in Military Aircraft Crashes
Civilians killed or injured as a result of military aircraft crashes may sue the military by suing the U.S. government for negligence. While these types of helicopter and plane accidents are rare, there are times when a military aircraft crashes into a home or comes into contact with civil aviation in a devastating way. For example, on July 7, 2015, an F16 fighter jet collided with a Cessna in South Carolina, killing two people aboard the small plane. According to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the pilot of the fighter jet was warned by air traffic controllers of the Cessna's presence and ordered to take evasive action prior to the mid-air collision.
Baum Hedlund Handles Military Aircraft Crashes Across the Globe
The law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman handles military aircraft crashes across the United States and in foreign countries where the case involves an American aircraft or parts manufacturer. We will consider and evaluate the case of anyone hurt in a military plane crash or military helicopter crash including:
- Members of our Armed Forces against aircraft and parts manufacturers and civilian maintenance facilities.
- Civilians killed or injured in military aircraft crashes.
Examples of Baum Hedlund's Military Aircraft Crash Cases
March 16, 2013 – Kiowa Warrior OH-58D Military Helicopter Crash, Kandahar, Afghanistan: We represented the families of two Army servicemen in a lawsuit against the engine parts manufacturers of a military helicopter that crashed outside of Kandahar, Afghanistan. The military helicopter crash killed one pilot and left the other with severe disabilities.
An investigation into the 2013 accident found that the helicopter's engine control unit (ECU) contained in the EMC-35 FADEC (Full Authority Digital Electronic Control) and its component parts failed. FADEC is a digital computer that controls fuel to a turbine engine. The part failure led to a significant reduction of fuel flow to the engine, which caused the main rotor to spin too slowly to stay airborne. The FADEC is used interchangeably in civil and military aircraft.
The lawsuit alleged that the defendants' design and manufacture of the ECU contained in the EMC-35 FADEC was defective and unreasonably dangerous. The defendants (Triumph Group, Inc., Goodrich Pump and Engine Control Systems Inc.) were allegedly aware of the ECU's flaws, but failed to raise the alarm about the potential for failure.
August 8, 2011 — AH-6M "Little Bird" Military Helicopter Crash, Fort Benning, Georgia: We filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family of Steven Redd, a decorated combat veteran who was killed in an AH-6M "Little Bird" military helicopter crash in Georgia. The lawsuit claims that the helicopter experienced a failure of its Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC).
Chief Warrant Officer Steven Redd and Captain David Hortman were flying the AH-6M helicopter in a routine training exercise at Ft. Benning, Georgia in August of 2011 when components of the Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) system failed, according to the lawsuit. Even after the pilots performed the prescribed emergency procedures, neither were able to regain control of the aircraft, which hit the tops of some trees before impacting with the ground.
Through manufacturing flaws and quality assurance failures, the lawsuit claims that the defendants (Goodrich Corporation, Goodrich Pump and Engine Controls, Rolls-Royce of North America, Inc., Allison Engine Company, Boeing Company and MD Helicopters) allegedly provided an unreliable and defectively manufactured helicopter, engine, fuel control system, and other flight system components, which resulted in the military helicopter crash that killed both Hortman and Redd.
December 12, 1985 Arrow Air Flight 1285 Military Plane Crash, Newfoundland, Canada: A McDonnell Douglas DC-8-63CF jetliner operating as Arrow Air Flight 1285 and chartered by the Army to carry 248 soldiers from Sinai in Cairo to their home base in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, crashed hear Gander Airport in Newfoundland, Canada.
Baum Hedlund represented the families of three soldiers killed in the military plane crash.
Timothy A. Loranger, Military Aviation Attorney
Baum Hedlund's lead military aviation attorney, Timothy A. Loranger, is a decorated veteran of the United States Marine Corps who served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Tim focused his service as a hydraulic systems specialist on RF-4B, F/A-18, and AC-130 aircraft at the squadron and intermediate maintenance levels.
Tim's experience as a Marine has enhanced his law career, where he focuses on military aircraft crashes, general and commercial aviation crashes, commercial ground transportation crashes and product liability cases.
- USMC-Deployments to Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
- Appointed to the Board of Directors for U.S. VETS, the largest nonprofit provider of services to homeless and at-risk veterans from every military branch who served our country in WWII and every conflict since.
- Appointed to Board of Governors for Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA), the nation's largest local association of plaintiffs' attorneys.
- Active member of CAALA's Government Relations Committee, the New Lawyers Committee and the Listserve Committee.
- Active member of Consumer Attorneys of California.
- Received the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Presidential Award in 2007 and 2014 and the Presidential Award of Merit in 2008.
- Licensed pilot and former military aircraft mechanic.
- Selected to: The Best Lawyers in America® and Southern California Super Lawyers® – Aviation & Aerospace
Military Helicopter Crash
Statistics from HeliHub show that in a recent year there were 133 fatal helicopter accidents resulting in 420 deaths. Of that total, 50 crashes and 246 lives were lost in military helicopter crashes, some in war zones and others within areas of the U.S. This number of crashes could conceivably be higher, as helicopter crashes in conflict areas occasionally go unreported, or there simply isn't enough information for a report to be filed.
Many of these helicopter crashes occur as a result of poor maintenance and/or manufacturing defects. When this is the case, it is possible for men and women in uniform or civilians, or their families, to file a lawsuit if they are hurt or killed in a military helicopter crash. Even if a crash occurs overseas, it is possible to bring the responsible parties into our judicial system if they are subject to U.S. laws. For example, if the helicopter's engine was found to be a contributing factor in a crash and its manufacturer is a U.S. company, it is subject to U.S. jurisdiction, regardless of where the helicopter crash occurred.
Military Plane Crash
Dozens of men and women serving in the military lose their lives every year in plane crashes, many of which could have been prevented. Much like a general aviation crash, a military plane crash can be caused by a wide variety of factors, including pilot error, design or manufacturer defects, negligent maintenance, air traffic controller error, or inclement weather.
While military pilots receive the best possible training, they occasionally have to fly planes that should be deemed too old to be in service, or planes that have defective parts. When these mechanical defects are exposed during a critical phase of flight, even the best pilots in the world are challenged to keep themselves and those traveling with them safe from harm.
It is true that men and women in uniform that are injured or killed in a military plane crash are restricted from taking legal action against the U.S. Government. But many military aviation lawsuits are filed every year against the manufacturers of these planes and their component parts if they are found to be defective. The challenge lies in proving that the military plane or its components were "unreasonably dangerous" due to defective design and/or manufacture, or was negligently maintained by civilian contractors.
Military Aircraft Accident Investigation
Military aircraft crashes that result in death or injury need to be investigated with the utmost care to not only learn the causes and bring closure to those affected, but to ensure that others don't suffer the same fate in similar crashes.
In most aviation crashes the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has jurisdiction over the investigation. In military aircraft crashes, however, the investigative arm of each branch of service has jurisdiction and is charged with heading the investigation.
Helicopter and plane crashes leave a trail of clues that need to be analyzed and interpreted in order to get a clear picture of what really went wrong. It is for this reason that it is critical to have an experienced aviation attorney conduct an independent investigation to ensure that important details are not missed or overlooked.
These investigations require a breadth of knowledge in aviation law, mechanical engineering, maintenance, pilot training and meteorology, to name but a few of the disciplines that might have to be violated. The aviation attorneys of Baum Hedlund have many years of experience handling more than 650 aviation accident cases, including military aircraft crashes. Two of our attorneys are also pilots.
Baum Hedlund: Military Aviation Law Firm
Companies that willfully put profit over the safety of men and women in the Armed Forces should be held accountable for their misdeeds. By filing a military aircraft accident lawsuit, your action can lead to compensation for your losses and help prevent the responsible companies from continuing to put the lives of other men and women in uniform in needless danger.
If you were injured or have lost a loved one as a result of a military aircraft crash, you should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. The aviation lawyers at Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, P.C. can help you through this difficult time and guide you through the process of filing a military aircraft accident claim.
Investigating military aircraft crashes can be both challenging and complex. It is imperative that your attorneys understand the laws that govern military aircraft crashes and have the best interest of you and your loved ones at heart. Our firm has successfully represented clients in a wide variety of aviation lawsuits.
Lead military aircraft accident attorney, Tim Loranger, and our aviation accident team, are known for the compassion and diligence they bring to each and every case. Tim or any of our other aviation attorneys are available to discuss your case with you at any time. Please contact us by phone at 1-888-406-6726 or by filling out our contact form.
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