A flight nurse who was seriously injured in a 2015 helicopter crash in Frisco has been awarded $100 million in a settlement with the helicopter’s manufacturer and the company that operated it. Attorneys said they hope the extraordinary sum will compel the industry to improve helicopter crashworthiness.
One member of the crashsuffered burns on 90 percent of his body after the Flight For Life helicopter he was riding in crashed shortly after takeoff at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center on July 3, 2015. The pilot, was killed. He was a decorated U.S. Army helicopter pilot in Vietnam and had flown for Flight For Life for 27 years.
“It’s an amount the plaintiffs were very deserving of,” said Denver attorney. “It allows them to cover all future medical bills and allows them to live comfortably for the rest of their lives. The future care will be very expensive — and extensive.”
One defendant will pay $45 million, and another will pay $55 million. The settlement will be paid in full in a single installment, likely within the next several weeks.
The suit alleged at least nine counts of negligence, including failure to retrofit the Airbus AS350 helicopter with a crash-resistant fuel system, which ruptured when the craft hit the ground and ignited in a conflagration. “This is the highest pre-trial settlement in U.S. history, and it is well-deserved,” said Gary C. Robb, a Kansas City, Missouri aviation attorney who also represented the Repshers. “In my 37 years doing aviation work, this is the most severely injured client I’ve ever had. It is the greatest hope that perhaps other manufacturers will start putting crash-resistant fuel systems in their helicopters so that no one ever has to go through the horrible burn injuries that the plaintiff suffered.”
Director for VerdictSearch, said the amount was the highest pre-trial settlement for a personal injury case in her company’s database.
In a statement, Air Methods said it was retrofitting its fleet of helicopters with crash-resistant fuel systems approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.