NC Aviation Law Attorney

School’s Field Trip Waiver Angers Parents

A new field trip permission slip has angered the parents of children attending school in Lee County, Florida.   Well, it’s not exactly the permission slip – it’s the waiver included on the permission slip. 

The slip states, “your child may be seriously injured or killed by participating in this activity.”  If the parents sign the waiver, they are agreeing to give up their child’s right and their right to recover any damages from the school, its agents, and its employees in a lawsuit if anything happens to their child.  This includes any injuries the child may suffer and the death of the child during the trip or as a result of the field trip. 

Several parents refused to sign the permission slip.  One stated, “it looks like they are more concerned with a lawsuit than with the safety of my child.”

The school board attorney disagreed with the mother, stating that parents can sue if a school employee is negligent and that negligence leads to a child being injured or worse.  He said, “it doesn’t say you will not sue, it says you understand there is a risk involved.” 

Lee County has changed the standard permission slip to go along with Florida law and follows the state law word for word.  The local administrator who supervised its development feels the legislators were too explicit.  The same form is used for athletics and for academics and the administrator thinks there should be a difference in the forms since athletics pose a greater chance of injury. 

In case you’re wondering, the very dangerous field trip was scheduled for the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers.

Florida School Waiver

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Posted by 12:26 pm

John Deere Faces Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The family and estate of a young man killed when he was thrown from a John Deere Dozer and killed during heavy equipment operator school at Associated Training Services of Texas, reports the Southeast Texas Record. 

The lawsuit has been filed against Indiana Mills & Manufacturing Inc. and Deere & Co. The original complaint states the student traveled over a ridge of dirt and then on to a slope when he was thrown from the bulldozer to the ground.  The Dozer continued moving and ran over the young man, killing him. 

Indians Mills & Manufacturing is accused of negligence and strict liability over the design and function of its seatbelt and buckle. John Deere is accused of negligence and strict liability for using an unsafe seatbelt and for failing to use due care and caution in the design and manufacture of the Dozer. 

The family is asking for wrongful death damages, survival damages, compensatory damages, interest, and court costs.

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Posted by 3:00 pm

NTSB Faults Pilot For Deadly Helicopter Crash In Maryland

In its final report released earlier this month, the National Transportation Safety Board stated pilot error was probably the cause of the helicopter crash on South Mountain on July 23, 2009. 

Four people were killed when the helicopter went down on the flight from Hagerstown to Frederick.  The NTSB says the pilot used poor judgment when he chose to make the flight on the dark night in adverse weather conditions even after talking with a fellow employee at Advanced Helicopter Concepts.   

The report states the helicopter took off after the Hagerstown air traffic control tower closed and entered an area of reduced visibility near the top of South Mountain.  It is thought it turned around and was headed back west when it hit power lines and crashed and burst into flames. 

This helicopter crash is a perfect example of how on board recording devices would help investigators know exactly what was decided in the cockpit.

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Posted by 1:22 pm

$175K Awarded In Escaped Race Horse Injury

A Madison County, Illinois, jury has awarded $175,000 to a man injured when race horses escaped from their pasture in 2008, according to the Madison Record. 

According to the lawsuit, the owners did not take proper precautions to keep their horses contained.   The plaintiff claimed the horses came out of nowhere onto Illinois State Road 159 and he saw them strike a mini van that was in front of him.  When he swerved to avoid hitting another horse, he heard a “pop” from his right shoulder and although he refused an ambulance the night of the accident, he sought medical help the following day. 

His lost wages and medical bills have cost him over $59,000. 

The owners of the horse farm have over 40 years experience with horses and this was only the second incident in the farm’s history.  Although they speculated the horses jumped the fence, they never found out how the horses escaped.

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Posted by 3:00 pm

FAA Falls Short of Addressing Need for Cockpit, Data Recorders on All Helicopters, Says Raleigh, NC Aviation Attorney

Crouse Law Offices lawyer James T. Crouse says recorders’ data would prevent future accidents. 

Aviation accident attorney, James T. Crouse this week said the FAA ‘s propsed new rules for helicopter safety operators should have included a mandate for flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders on all helicopters.

“I applaud the FAA for these proposed changes which should help helicopter safety and should save lives,” says Crouse. “Despite the efforts of manufacturers, operators and government agencies, the helicopter accident rate has not seen a major improvement.”

Crouse, founder of Crouse Law Offices in Raleigh, is a former military pilot and an aviation accident lawyer with litigation experience involving major air carriers, general aviation, helicopter and military crashes.

Although the technology is readily available, the FAA has not mandated flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders on smaller aircraft, including helicopters, Crouse says.

“If this information were available, we could not only help the families of the victims of these terrible accidents, but we could use the information for prevention of future accidents,” Crouse says.

Stricter flight rules and procedures proposed by the Federal Aviation Administration on October 7 include improved communications and training, and additional on-board safety equipment for helicopters, including air ambulances. But the FAA has no plans to require flight data recorders or cockpit voice recorders on all helicopters or smaller fixed-wing aircraft.

Crouse says that flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders on smaller aircraft would help in post-accident analysis to determine the real causes of helicopter and plane crashes.

“Too often air safety investigators are left with trying to piece the facts together from wreckage scene components and other indirect data which can make the true cause difficult to determine,” Crouse says. “This often leads to blaming the pilot when, in fact, the aircraft and its systems might well have been at fault.”

The FAA’s proposal would require commercial helicopter operators to equip their helicopters with radio altimeters and additional equipment for over-water operations, and to demonstrate competencies pertaining to flying in inclement weather. Air ambulances would be required to have a Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems on board, institute pre-flight risk-analysis programs and require various additional standards for training, certification and flight readiness.

Crouse says he favors more stringent rules than those proposed by the FAA.

“I believe the government should go further and mandate two pilots on all Part 135 helicopter operations, and insist on adequate ground-based flight following and operational management of medical helicopter operations, in addition to requiring flight recording devices on all light aircraft—helicopters and fixed-wing,” he says.

About Crouse Law Offices

Aviation accident lawyer James T. Crouse of Crouse Law Offices in Raleigh, North Carolina, has more than 35 years of aviation law experience. Crouse uses his extensive knowledge along with state-of-the-art forensic technology to investigate and recreate the events involved in aviation accident cases. Crouse Law Offices represents victims and their families in many practice areas, including airplane and helicopter accidents, aviation law, auto accidents, military representation, product liability, transportation law, defective products, consumer dangers, general negligence, personal injury and wrongful death.

Mr. Crouse can be reached at Crouse Law Offices at 919-861-0500 or online at http://www.crouselaw.com/contact.asp.

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Posted by 12:18 pm

Family Of City Worker Killed In Mower Accident Settles Lawsuit

A confidential last minute settlement has been reach in the lawsuit brought by the family of a city Parks Department employee who was killed in 2003 by a runaway lawnmower, reports the Telegram& Gazette of Worcester, Mass. 

The 54-year-old man died from injuries he sustained when he was run over by a 6,000 lb. large capacity mower as it rolled down a hill.  The man had stopped the mower and shut off the engine before the mower started to roll – he was run over as he tried to halt the machine. 

His widow filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Textron, Inc which owns the Jacobsen Company, manufacturer of the mower.  The lawsuit accused Textron of selling an unsafe and defective product and of breaching its implied warranty of merchantability.  The lawsuit contends the accident was cause by a defective parking brake in which the cable corroded and broke because the vinyl coating did not cover the entire length. 

Textron denied any negligence and claimed the mower had not been properly maintained.

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Posted by 1:52 pm

Raleigh, N.C. Aviation Attorney Comments On FAA’s Proposal For New Helicopter Safety Rules

Yesterday the Federal Aviation Administration announced it is proposing stricter flight rules for helicopters, including those which are aimed at increasing safety for medical helicopters. 

This comes after a rash of medical helicopter crashes in the last few years. 

James T. Crouse of Crouse Law Offices had the following comments:

“Despite the efforts of manufacturers, operators and government agencies, the helicopter accident rate has not seen a major improvement.  I applaud the FAA for these proposed changes which should help helicopter safety and should save lives.” 

For years, Crouse says, the FAA has not mandated flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders on smaller aircraft, including helicopters, which would help in post-accident analysis to determine the real cause of the crash.  “If we had this information, we could not only help the families of the victims of these terrible accidents, but we could use the information for prevention of future accidents.” 

Too often, investigators are left with trying to piece the facts together from wreckage scene components and other indirect data which can make the true cause difficult to determine.  “Unfortunately, this often leads to blaming the pilot when, in fact, the aircraft and its systems might well have been at fault,” Crouse says. 

“The government should go further and mandate two pilots on all Part 135 helicopter operations, and insist on adequate ground-based flight following and operational management of medical helicopter operations.  Finally, the FAA should require flight recording devices on all light aircraft—helicopters and fixed-wing.”

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Posted by 3:28 pm

City of Oakland Pays $1.2M For Personal Injury

The city of Oakland will pay $1.2 million to a woman who suffered 3rd degree burns in a police raid in October 2008, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. 

During a search of a home the 31-year-old woman was visiting, a member of the police SWAT team threw a “flash-bang” grenade into a house.  The grenade exploded near her, causing burns over 11 percent of her body and leaving her permanently disfigured.

The woman accused the police of using an “extreme level of force” when they used the grenade which typically used to disorient dangerous suspects and had full knowledge the grenade could severely burn or injure innocent bystanders.  She subsequently spent nearly a month in the hospital and incurred $400,000 in medical expenses. 

The City Council admitted no wrongdoing when they unanimously voted to approve the settlement.

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Posted by 9:58 am

$65M Verdict In 2007 Motor Vehicle Crash Upheld By Appeals Court

Considered to be one of the largest in Polk County, the 2nd District Court of Appeals has upheld a $65 million verdict for a woman injured in a 2007 traffic crash, reports the Lakeland’s ( Florida ) The Ledger. 

In 2007, the 19-year-old was driving her Dodge Neon when she was struck by a tractor-trailer at an intersection.  An eyewitness to the accident testified the young college student had the green light. 

Prior to the accident, she was majoring in psychology, could speak six languages, and was working as an aide for Florida Institute of Neurologic Rehabilitation.  Following the accident, she was left with extensive injuries and is totally unable to care for herself. 

The lawsuit was filed against Bynum Transport and the part-time truck driver who caused the crash.

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Posted by 2:39 pm

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