Hawaii News Now reports that a hot air balloon with at least 16 passengers crashed over the weekend, with no survivors. Initial reports indicate that the balloon caught on fire around a little before 8 a.m. about 30 miles south of Austin, Texas. The site of the crash is just below power lines, leading many to assume that the balloon may have come in contact with the lines. However, the accident remains under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and other officials.
Recently, safety investigators recommended that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) impose greater oversight on commercial hot air balloon operators due to concerns about potential high-fatality accidents, however these recommendations were rejected.
A recent study of hot-air balloon tour crashes from 2000-2011 revealed that During the 12-year period, 78 hot-air balloon tours crashed, involving 518 occupants. There were 91 serious injuries and 5 fatalities; 83 percent of crashes resulted in one or more serious or fatal outcome. Of the serious injuries, 56 percent were lower extremity fractures.
Where accidents occur, complex questions of liability arise. For example, did the passengers sign a waiver? Was the balloon operating company licensed and following all regulations? Was there pilot error?
For more information, or if you or a loved one has been injured in a hot air balloon accident, please contact the experienced Hawaii personal injury lawyers at Bostwick & Peterson, LLP for an immediate consultation.