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Family of Balloon Accident Victim Settles For $1.4 Million


The family of an Oceanside, California woman who fell to her death during an October 2007 hot air balloon accident in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has reached a $1.4 million settlement with the company that managed the balloon rides. According to an Associated Press news report, 60-year-old Rosemary Wooley Phillips fell through a hole in the balloon’s gondola when the balloon’s pilot became entangled in power lines.

The accident happened immediately after the balloon’s pilot became distracted watching another hot air balloon crash into a house, an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) revealed months after the accident. The wrongful death lawsuit, filed by Phillips’ sister, named the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta pilot Tom Reyes and his two employers; Albuquerque based Star Trail Inc. and Rainbow Ryders. Four other passengers in the balloon, including Phillips’ partner Cheri Dias, suffered minor injuries. The $1.4 million was apparently the limit of what the Fiesta was insured to cover and was shared between Dias, Phillips’ two siblings and another friend, who was injured in the crash as well.

This was a huge tragedy for not only the Phillips’ family, but also her partner Dias and the friends who saw Phillips fall 70 feet to her death. As Dias says herself in this news report, the $1.4 million is surely not going to bring the “love of her life” back or even ease the pain of losing a loved one.

The reason wrongful death lawsuits are usually filed is to make sure the surviving members of the victim’s family, particularly those who depended on the victim’s earnings and companionship, are compensated for their loss. In most cases, wrongful death claims seek compensation for medical and/or funeral expenses, loss of future wages and loss of companionship, among other things. These wrongful death claims are also filed in cases where the death occurred as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing.

If you have lost a loved one as a result of someone’s carelessness, negligence or deliberate wrongdoing, please contact a reputed California personal injury lawyer to find out how to pursue your legal rights. My staff or I will be happy to answer your questions or provide information about how you can get justice and fair compensation in your case.

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