NC Aviation Law Attorney

Are Medical Helicopter Safety Concerns Being Addressed?

Medical helicopter crashes make headline news, receiving a lot of attention from the media and from viewers.  Perhaps because we can all feel the depth of the tragedy knowing this helicopter was on a mission of mercy to save lives – yet crew members and patients lose their lives.

According to the NTSB, there were 85 helicopter-EMS (HEMS) accidents from 2003-2009 with 77 fatalities with 2008 being the deadliest year on record.  The question of the safety of helicopter medical evacuations has gotten the attention not only of the general public, but also aviation associations associated with the EMS industry and government agencies. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by 8:23 am

Lost Luggage News For Airline Travelers

NEWS TO AIR TRAVELLERS:  Beginning February 28, 2011, the United States government is requiring the airlines to pay a MAXIMUM of $3,000 for lost luggage on domestic flights.  This is an increase of $200 over the amount the Department of Transportation established seven years ago. 

That does not mean, however, that you will get this amount if your bag is lost.  The government will still leave the final determination as to amount to the airlines for lost or damaged luggage.  Further, the procedures for recovery are complicated, time-consuming, and work in favor of the airlines.  Additionally, on many items—the more high-priced items, such as cameras, computers and jewelry, for example—the airlines are especially stingy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by 1:37 pm

Delta Makes Emergency Landing Because Of Windshield Cracks

The pilot came on over the public address system and calmly advised his passengers they had to make an emergency landing because the Boeing 737 had a  cracked windshield.  Delta Flight 1795 was headed for Southern California from Atlanta and diverted to the Dallas-Ft. Worth.  The plane landed in Texas without problems and the passengers were put on another plane to continue their flight to John Wayne Airport in Orange County.  The FAA is investigating. 

This is not the first incident for Delta.  In December 2009, Delta flight 0444 left Bogota, Columbia bound for Atlanta and had to turn back when the pilot noticed cracks on the surface of the outer layer of the windshield of the Boeing 757 about 35 minutes into the flight.  Following this incident, the FAA was to review the incident to find the cause and to see if the cracks on the Boeing 757 are connected to a string of windshield problems on Boeing 757s. 

 An FAA spokesman, Kathleen Bergen, pointed out there are several layers of glass in the windshield and this was only one layer, but if there was a trend, “we will look into it.”  Delta spokesman, Anthony Black told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this problem was not related because the cracks were on the outside of the windshield, not the interior.

Hopefully, the FAA and Boeing will work together to find the cause of windshield cracks on airliner jets.  In my career, I have seen too many tragedies which were the result of known problems which could have been fixed and save lives.

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Posted by 12:51 pm

Landing Gear Noise Leads Lufthansa Captain To Request Further Safety Checks – Gets Different A380 Before Continuing With Flight

A captain’s concerns with strange landing gear noise on the Airbus 380 he was piloting led him to request further safety checks while the plane was waiting to take-off. This request forced the German airline to unload 400 passengers en route to Tokyo and although no problems were found with the landing gear, the plane was replaced before the flight proceeded.  

The Airbus 380 is the largest passenger plane in the world and also the cause of a growing concern since a Qantas A380 lost an engine recently and it was discovered there were oil leaks in several faulty engines made by Rolls-Royce.  Some of the engines have been returned to Rolls-Royce for replacement of the problem parts on planes already in service.  

Lufthansa will take delivery of its next A380 on November 16 and has scheduled it first passenger flight for November 19.  The Trent 970 model engines in Lufthansa’s A380 are newer than the Trent 972 engines in the planes flown by Qantas.

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Posted by 11:52 am

Suit Filed Against Lexus In Carbon Monoxide Death

One of new high-tech features on Toyota’s luxury car, the Lexus, maybe deadly as well as nifty.  The keyless ignition system is being linked to several carbon monoxide poison deaths when people leave the car running in the garage without knowing it because the engine runs so quietly. 

This is the case in the death of a 79-year-old Queens’ attorney, reports the NY Daily News.  In February 2009, his long time companion parked their new Lexus in the attached garage and accidentally left the engine running.  The next day she was found unconscious on the bedroom floor and he was dead from carbon monoxide poisoning.  Although she survived, she is unable to walk and has difficulty speaking. 

In her lawsuit, she accuses Toyota of failing to install a “shutdown” switch in the cars – which can be turned on or off at the touch of a button.  The switch would turn off the engine when the car is unoccupied or not touched for a certain amount of time.  The problem at this time is the engine continues to run even after the driver leaves the vehicle with the key fob which communicates with the car’s computer.

Another investigation is still underway in Palm Beach County as to whether or not the August carbon-monoxide death of a 29-year-old woman was caused by the Lexus in her garage.

This is just one more problem for Toyota which has had to recall millions of vehicle for other problems such as pedals and accelerators that could stick.  

As a personal injury attorney who is concerned when deaths occur which could have possibly been avoided, I hope Toyota can find a timely “fix” for this latest problem before any more deaths occur.

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Posted by 5:14 pm

Release Forms (Waivers) Unenforceable Says Iowa Court

Iowa Supreme Court has ruled a 19-year-old who was injured on a field trip in 2005 can proceed with her negligence lawsuit because the release forms signed by her mother are unenforceable.

The then 14-year-old was on a field trip to Milwaukee with a youth program called Upward Bound and organized by the University of Northern Iowa and the state of Iowa.  The students had to cross a busy street in the middle of a rainstorm without order or supervision and as the young girl got off the bus, she was hit by a car. 

In overturning a lower court’s decision, the court stated, “We believe a strong policy in favor of protecting children must trump any competing interest” to nullify a child’s personal injury claim.  The lawyer for the young girl argued “a parent can’t waive the potential negligence of a person or party” to whom they are releasing custody of their children and the person who is negligent in caring for the children can’t stand behind a waiver which signs the children’s rights away. 

The state argued ruling the liability waivers unenforceable could impact opportunities for children to participate in field trips and that public policy weighs in favor of releases.  The court acknowledged there is valid policy supporting waivers for adults, but believed strong public policy favoring protecting vulnerable children needs a different rule. 

When her first attempt at filing a lawsuit was turned down by the lower court because of the waiver, she argued to the higher court that parents are “ill-equipped” to know in advance all the risks of injury their children may face when the releases are signed. 

The high court agreed.

Waivers Unenforceable

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Posted by 4:48 pm

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