Louisiana Record

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Man awarded over $1 million in helicopter crash


By Charmaine Little | Nov 19, 2018

A Louisiana man is entitled to more than $1 million after suffering injuries from a helicopter crash, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana ruled on Oct. 26.

Nicholas Miller was awarded $1,013,302.49 in his case against Panther Helicopters Inc. He also received 6 percent interest per annum from Oct. 9, 2013 until judgment is entered, as well as post-judgment interest set by 28 U.S.C. 1961 from the date judgment is entered until paid, plus costs other than attorneys’ fees, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier determined.

Miller was awarded $300,000 for past general damages. The court determined the helicopter crash was a traumatic event for Miller, not only physically but psychologically. He suffered from PTSD, guilt and anxiety as well as compression fractures to four of his vertebrae, and not all of the injuries have been resolved.

U.S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier | ICS Media Database

He was also given $100,000 for future general damages. “The court finds Miller will continue to experience some pain in his back for the rest of life,” the court said, as it added he’s expected to have other physical setbacks. While he received treatment for his psychological injuries and no longer qualifies for a PTSD diagnosis, he hasn’t fully recovered as the court noted he still suffers from guilt and nightmares from time to time.

The court then awarded Miller $149,000 for past lost wages. That number was decided by calculating the amount of money he proved he would have earned if the accident never happened, subtracting any wages he could have earned since the accident occurred. Miller’s salary before taxes was roughly $53,000. The court said his total after-tax earnings from the accident to trial would have been $222,705.00. The disagreement came on how much Miller could have earned since the accident. The court evaluated it and considered multiple factors like his restrictions and came to $149,000.

It also determined Miller should get $400,000 for future lost wages. The court determined Miller could earn $20,800 a year before taxes from April 2015 to October 2018. It said that number could rise to more than $40,000 soon.  

Miller was awarded at least $64,302.49 for his past medical expenses, and nothing for this future medical expenses as no evidence for future medical costs was provided.

Miller was injured in a helicopter crash during his time working as a B Operator for Wood Group PSN Inc. While heading home from a 14-day project on Oct. 9, 2013, Miller and his coworkers got into the helicopter. 

The helicopter lost power shortly after getting off the platform and fell 200 feet into the Gulf of Mexico. While Miller and his colleagues survived the crash, they sustained multiple injuries. The helicopter’s pilot was unable to be rescued and drowned. 

Miller, his coworkers, and the pilot’s survivors sued for the helicopter crash. While the lawsuit was delayed pending an investigation, it resumed, and the parties reached a settlement on all of the plaintiffs’ claims except Miller’s in May 2018. The issue holding back the settlement was how much Miller should receive for injuries. 

The three defendants still involved in the case are Panther Helicopters; Rolls Royce, as certificate holder for the helicopter’s engine; and Standard Aero LTD, which overhauled portions of the engine.

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U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana

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