I kind of hate writing posts like this because they seem insensitive. That is not my intention at all, and I almost never do it if it happens in Illinois as I don’t want to be seen as trying to fish for a case.
That said, I do find that events like the tragic helicopter accident that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others, can be very educational to people who are curious about wrongful death law. It can also be instructive if you have a family member or friend in this situation. You don’t want their grief to prevent them from having a chance at justice.
While I don’t know anyone involved with this case, I would bet anything that within hours of this terrible crash happening, there were experienced personal injury lawyers and their investigators on the scene.
There are not a ton of major helicopter, airplane or trucking deaths per year in the United States. When those accidents do happen, they are usually investigated by the Federal Government. While I expect that in a high profile case like this they will do a thorough and clean investigation, it isn’t always the case. Like many government agencies, they can be under-staffed and over worked.
The families of the victims, if they bring a lawsuit, will need to prove negligence. While it appears that this is a case of a pilot making an error to fly in fog – other helicopters in the area were reportedly grounded due to weather – the pilot was very experienced. It’s possible that there was mechanical failure or some other reason the chopper went down.
Attorneys and their investigators can’t interfere with the official investigation, but they can also make sure that no potential defendant is interfering either. If they see something like that, they can go to court to make it stop. In one case we were involved in, the lawyers on the scene actually video taped the potential defendant removing debris from the scene of the accident. That quick thinking likely saved the case.
Lawyers would also want to go around to anyone who may have heard or seen what happened. Documenting this type of information, especially when it’s fresh in someone’s mind, is very important. Investigators can also share information with and learn information from the government workers.
I wouldn’t expect that any of the husbands/wives/parents of the deceased are thinking about any of this right now, but I’d bet at least one had a family member or friend step up and make sure that this happened. It may not seem like it, but it’s really the best way you can support someone when they lose someone so suddenly and tragically. At first they will be just grieving but at some point they will want answers and justice to prevent it from happening to anyone else. Getting an early investigation is the best chance to make that happen.