When a hot air balloon accident occurs, multiple parties may be liable for causing the crash. Negligent maintenance and operation, faulty equipment, or inadequate training can result in a hot air balloon accident that causes personal injuries and wrongful deaths.
Causes of Hot Air Balloon Injuries
Common causes of hot air balloon injuries include hard landings and striking objects such as cars or trees during the landing phase. Contact with high energy power lines is particularly hazardous as this exposes passengers to the added risk of electrocution. Nationwide, contact with power lines is the most common cause of wrongful death for hot air balloon pilots and passengers.
These accidents also include pilot error and weather-related events, as well as fires and errors made by the ground handling crew. In some cases, negligent behaviors including alcohol/drug consumption or choosing to take the balloon up in high wind conditions contribute to causing a balloon accident.
When these events occur, they can cause serious burn injuries, broken bones, lacerations, and brain injuries. Globally, there are approximately 3,000 hot air balloon accidents per year. In the United States, there are approximately 20 accidents per year. When these accidents occur, it is common for multiple parties to suffer injuries in the crash. However, fatalities are rare. From 2000 through mid-2016, only 21 fatalities were recorded in the United States.
Investigating a Hot Air Balloon Accident
Hot air balloon accidents are investigated by the FAA and NTSB. These federal agencies will determine what caused the crash and who is liable for the accident. They will examine the wreckage of the balloon, gather eyewitness testimony, collect any video or photo evidence of the crash, etc. It is common for these entities to work closely with local law enforcement and first responders including firemen during the investigative process.
These investigations will also determine whether any safety violations contributed to causing the accident. These violations may include failure to adhere to established maintenance protocols, failure to ensure proper training of pilots or ground crew, etc. When these forms of negligence contribute to causing a hot air balloon crash, a personal injury attorney in Las Vegas can help victims and their survivors recover compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, physical therapy, pain, and suffering, etc.