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Nicoletti Walker Law Group Aug. 10, 2016

On Saturday July 30th, a hot-air balloon carrying 16 people caught on fire and crashed, sadly, leaving no survivors. Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are now indicating that the balloon hit high-tension power lines, causing it to crash into the ground and ultimately catch on fire. The F.B.I. has also been asked to look into the incident because it was a major accident that resulted in such a significant loss of life.

In fact, this particular incident is now one of the worst hot-air balloon crashes in history, second only to another crash that involved a fire and killed 19 people three years ago. Other accidents have resulted from wind gusts blowing these balloons into power line complexes, begging a question: who is responsible for ensuring that the weather and any associated conditions make it safe to fly one of these? There were reports of foggy weather in the area around the time the balloon took off, and there may also be some indication that the pilot has a history of issues when it comes to operating these balloons.

Previous Negligence from Pilot?

Recently, evidence emerged that the pilot of the balloon was arrested 16 years ago in Missouri for driving under the influence, and the Better Business Bureau actually warned consumers about a company he used to operate. In fact, the pilot had received an unsatisfactory record for not responding to complaints on several occasions. This history may play a part in deciding, to what extent, he is responsible for the 15 other deaths associated with the incident. In addition, the business behind the rides—Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides—was not officially registered with the state of Texas. This could lead to a host of legal complications related to wrongful death claims from the victims’ families.

Hot Air Balloon Lawsuits

It would appear that injuries and associated lawsuits aren’t that unheard of when it comes to hot air balloon accidents. In January, a lawsuit was filed against a balloon company (also located in Texas) in association with injuries experienced by one of the customers who claims to have been dragged under the basket as it landed. The plaintiff alleges that the pilot of that particular balloon ignored the worker on the ground who instructed him not to land the balloon, ultimately causing the balloon to hit the ground and hurl the plaintiff out, sending her in the way of an oncoming basket. She is now seeking damages based on her injuries, medical bills, and pain and suffering under the contention that the pilot was unfit to pilot the balloon and the company should have known that.

Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney

Wrongful death cases are always difficult. Not only are family and friends grieving, but often, family members are also suffering after losing the support that their deceased loved one provided for the family.

Clearwater attorney Mike Walker is experienced in handling wrongful death cases. He understands the emotional pain and suffering that accompany losing a loved one unexpectedly. If you’ve been the unfortunate victim of wrongful death, he can help explain what steps you can take to make sure you and your family are protected. Contact the office today for professional assistance.