What's the law
Military servicemen are sometimes involved in accidents and injuries while on military duty. Generally the law forbids a serviceman from obtaining compensation directly from the U.S Government. This doctrine, called the Feres doctrine, prevents second-guessing of the command and control decisions inherent in the military. However, active servicemen may obtain compensation from the manufacturers of vehicles, airplanes, or other products that have caused the mishap. Also, they may obtain compensation from civilian contractors whose negligence is implicated in a mishap.
The firm has investigated, settled, and tried numerous incidents involving injury to military servicemen and/or injury to civilians due to the military operations.
However, despite the Feres doctrine, a serviceman may seek compensation if his or her injuries were due to a defective product manufactured by an outside contractor. For example, when a Blackhawk helicopter crashed in Germany, killing four and injuring 2, our investigation traced the crash to a defect in design that permitted a fuel imbalance to render the helicopter uncontrollable. The manufacturer, Sikorsky, suffered a verdict of $22 million for the injuries to the military crew and passengers. (more)
Troop transport heater explosion
In another incident, which occurred in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War, a troop transport heater exploded with tremendous force. The resulting fire killed 20, making the tragedy the greatest loss of American troops in one incident in the war. Our firm represented victims burned by the heater. Investigation revealed that the heather was defectively designed by the civilian contractor. A lawsuit against the contractor for compensation to the military injured and killed was eventually settled.
Injuries to civilians by military operations
What's the law
Sometimes civilians are injured by military operations. If the military operation was conducted negligently, civilians can seek compensation through the Federal Tort Claims Act. The test of negligence is a breach of reasonable care, which is grounded in the state common law. The Tort Claims Act provides for full compensation including pain and suffering and loss of ability to enjoy life. The firm is experienced in maintaining actions under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
Ground casualties in Nashville from F-14 crash
When a young Navy pilot tried to impress his parents by doing a "high performance" departure from a Tennessee airport, he got more than he bargained for. Tragically, he lost control of his jet and crashed in a residential neighborhood near the airport. The crash killed and injured scores on the ground. As our case investigated the case, we found that the Navy''s own operating procedures had been violated and that the type of takeoff performed was not approved. A precedent-setting settlement was negotiated for the injured.
U.S. Air Force F-16 collision with private Cessna
The firm is representing a pilot of a small aircraft who was killed when his Cessna was struck by a U.S. Air Force F16. The fighter, traveling over 500 mph, had failed to contact the air traffic controller responsible for the airspace. The case illustrates the difficulties involved in concurrent use of airspace by military and civilian personnel. Wilner Hartley & Metcalf has frequently been involved in representing persons injured in military accidents, whether they are civilians or members of the military.