One Dead, Two Injured in Galveston, TX, Helicopter Accident
Galveston, TX -- FFebruary 6, 2017, one person was killed, two others were injured, after an accident where a Republic Helicopters chopper crashed off the coast.
Coast Guard Officials report that the accident occurred near Jamaica Beach off the coast of Galveston.
Preliminary investigations indicate that a shuttle helicopter, owned by Republic Helicopters, was transporting two people from the Eagle Vancouver tanker that was about 50 miles off-shore. It's not currently clear if the passengers were employees of either the helicopter company or the tanker.
For reasons that have yet to be determined, the helicopter lost control and went into the West Bay. As a result, one of the passengers suffered fatal injuries and died in the crash. Coast Guard were sent to the crash site shortly after Republic Helicopters lost contact with the pilot.
Coast Guard responders located the two survivors in the bay and extricated them from the water. They were both taken to a nearby hospital. Their conditions were not specified.
At this time, authorities continue to investigate the fatal accident. No further information is currently available.
Map of the Area
There are still a lot of details that we don't know yet surrounding this accident. It's not entirely clear who the passengers were or why they were on the helicopter. However, certain details lead me to believe that the passengers were employees working on the tanker that for one reason another were being taken to the mainland by a private helicopter shuttle company. When it comes to whether or not the victims in this case could have a liability claim, it all depends on some key details.
Let's say that the passenger who died was an employee of the helicopter company. If this is the case, then there would likely be no claim since the damages he or she sustained were caused by the employer--in other words, the victim died as the result of an accident that happened on the job. In Texas, this would be something that is covered under worker's comp, so if the helicopter company subscribes to worker's comp, then any compensation would have to come through that system.
However, if the passenger was unrelated to the helicopter company, then that means their injuries were caused by a third party to which they weren't related. This means there is potential for a wrongful death claim. Regardless of how the accident was caused--pilot error, mechanical failure, product defect, etc.--it's hard to envision a scenario where a passenger could bear any responsibility for this accident. Therefore, someone is liable for the accident.
A situation like this is akin to someone dying while riding as a passenger in a taxi cab. The taxi company can be held liable for the passenger's death because they were a third party that through some sort of negligence caused harm to someone else. The same could apply to this scenario. If the passenger died because of some sort of negligence done by the helicopter company or their employee, then there is potential for a claim.
Whether any of the above scenarios applies still remains to be seen. There are a lot of details that need to be hashed out, especially concerning the cause of the accident. Until that information is available, there's nothing anyone can do except speculate.
--Grossman Law Offices