Helicopters are a common sight in cities like New York City, where tourism companies operate them as a way to show visitors the city skyline and surrounding area. Most helicopters are safe, but these aircraft are not without risks. While commercial airlines are the safest way to travel compared to all other forms of transportation, helicopters do not share this distinction. Unlike commercial jetliners, helicopters pose a variety of safety hazards.
According to statistics from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the rate for helicopter crashes is an average 7.28 accidents per every 100,000 hours of flight time. This means that helicopters crash 35 percent more often than other aircraft.
Helicopter crashes are typically complicated cases that can involve multiple responsible parties. This is why it’s important for individuals injured in a helicopter crash to work with an experienced New York aviation accident lawyer.
Why Helicopters Crash More Often
There are many reasons why helicopters have higher crash rates. Compared to commercial flights, which have the highest safety record of any type of transportation, helicopters are much more dangerous.
- Riskier Operations – Helicopters tend to operate under riskier conditions than commercial flights or even private flights involving small aircraft. For example, helicopters are used by medical teams to quickly transport critically injured people from a motor vehicle accident site to a hospital. This means that helicopters are often landing in less than ideal conditions, such as the middle of a highway or down the side of an embankment. Medical helicopters must also fly when they’re called, which means they might end up flying late at night or during the middle of a snowstorm. Helicopters are also often used in high-risk occupations, such as offshore drilling operations and firefighting operations. These scenarios inherently pose more danger to the crew and passengers compared to a commercial flight involving a jetliner.
- More Moving Parts – Compared to a commercial airplane, helicopters have more moving parts. Besides the rotor on top of the helicopter, there is also a rotor on the tail. Helicopters also have a gearbox and a drive shaft that runs the length of the helicopter. More moving parts in constant motion means a higher chance of something breaking down or malfunctioning.
- Lower Altitude – Unlike commercial aircraft, which regularly fly at altitudes of 30,000 feet, helicopters stay comparatively low to the ground. In almost all cases, helicopters must stay below 12,000 feet, as this is about as high as they can go without needing pressurization. This puts a helicopter at a higher risk of striking an obstacle, such as power lines, a building, or a hillside.
Common Types of Helicopter Injuries
Tragically, many helicopter crashes result in the deaths of the people on board. In these cases, the family members of the deceased may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the parties responsible for the crash.
In other cases, a person is severely injured in a helicopter accident. It goes without saying that the injuries caused by a helicopter crash are more often than not extremely serious and life-changing. Common helicopter accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injury – Traumatic brain injuries can occur due to blunt trauma to the head, or by an object penetrating the skull during a helicopter crash. Individuals who suffer traumatic brain injuries can experience lifelong disability that requires ongoing medical care. Treatment for traumatic brain injury can quickly max out an injury victim’s health insurance benefits, leaving them with millions of dollars of out-of-pocket expenses.
- Spinal cord injuries – Spinal cord injuries can range from partial loss of movement and function to total paralysis of the entire body.
- Burns – Burns are a common type of helicopter accident injury, as the fuel on board can explode upon impact. Burns can leave a person with permanent and painful injuries.
- Amputations – The loss of a limb or body part is a devastating injury that changes a person’s life forever. These injuries can force a person to stop working, and many amputees require ongoing therapy and assistance just to perform normal daily activities.
- Mental health injuries – One of the frequently overlooked injuries involved in helicopter crashes are injuries that involve mental trauma. Many helicopter crash victims develop a fear of flying after being involved in a crash. It is also normal for people hurt in a helicopter crash to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can disrupt their everyday life.
If you have been injured in a helicopter accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses. Your compensation will likely depend on a variety of factors, including the nature and severity of your injuries, whether your injuries affect your ability to work, and any loss of future earning capacity. It’s important to discuss your case with a knowledgeable NYC helicopter accident lawyer.
Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case. Recoveries always depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case, the injuries suffered, damages incurred, and the responsibility of those involved.