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British Columbia hang-gliding fatality results in civil lawsuit

In April 2012, a 28-year-old woman plunged to her death in a hang-gliding accident in Fraser Valley. A pilot who was a partner in the hang-gliding company was convicted on charges of criminal negligence by a British Columbia court and sentenced to five months in jail. Both he and his partner as well as several hang-gliding associations are now the subject of a civil lawsuit alleging gross negligence filed by the woman's parents.

A judge said that the pilot omitted several steps in a pre-launch safety check that led to the woman falling because her harness was not hooked to the glider. Although she attempted to hold on while attempts were made to clip her in, she slipped and fell approximately 300 metres. The pilot's lawyer told the court that the pilot was distracted before the accident by several things, including an argument with his assistant. The judge responded by saying that an experienced pilot is expected to work through distractions.

The civil suit alleges that the defendants should have known that the woman was not safely secured and that they failed to follow safety procedures, which resulted in the woman suffering pain, shock and terror. The suit alleges that the hang-gliding associations were negligent in several areas, including failing to protect the public's safety and failing to provide proper training and safety standards. According to the suit, the defendants exhibited a callous disregard for public safety.

When a person is injured in an accident, it is sometimes possible to seek compensation for financial losses such as lost wages. If the accident results in death, it might be possible for the family members of the deceased to seek compensation by filing a wrongful death lawsuit, especially if the death resulted from negligence.

Source: Metro news, "Fatal hang-gliding plunge in B.C. prompts lawsuit", Beth Leighton, April 30, 2014

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