Suppose a person is visiting wine country in Napa Valley at harvest time and goes for a sightseeing trip on a helicopter that advertises it services to the public. However, due to a mechanical problem or pilot error, the helicopter goes out of control and crashes, injuring or killing all aboard. What rights do you have?
In California, a helicopter that provides sightseeing trips is considered to be a “common carrier”, even though the helicopter takes off and lands at the same place. As a common carrier, it owes a higher standard of care to its passengers. It has the legal obligation (“duty”) to act with the utmost care and diligence for its passengers’ safe carriage, and must provide everything necessary for that purpose. The helicopter owner/operator owes its customers the highest degree of due care and is legally responsible (“liable”) for even the slightest carelessness (“negligence”) that results in the injury to or death of a passenger.
The rules applying to sightseeing passengers also apply to business passengers. If a businessman or businesswoman hires a helicopter to take him or her from Point A to Point B, the helicopter is considered a common carrier and is liable to its passengers (or their survivors) for the slightest negligence.
As a common carrier, the owner/operator of the helicopter is required to maintain the helicopter in an “airworthy” condition, fit for flying, and can be held liable for injuries and deaths occurring because of the improper servicing or maintaining of the helicopter.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a helicopter accident, contact an experienced aviation accident lawyer immediately so he or she can start working right away to obtain all the monetary compensation you are entitled to.