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What goes up, must come down - Safely!

The hot air balloon crash which occurred in the NSW Hunter Valley region on 30 March 2018 (Good Friday), is yet another in a series of "unnecessary and preventable hot air balloon" incidents this year.

Authorities say that approximately 16 people were left with injuries from the incident, including suspected broken bones and potential spinal injuries.

Balloon Safaris said its balloon took off from Pokolbin in calm conditions, but after 30 minutes "visibility decreased which influenced the pilot’s decision to land at the first available landing spot."

While approaching for landing, the balloon hit trees before landing firmly, causing several injuries amongst passengers.

"Hot air balloon operators have a legal duty to take reasonable care for their passengers, and these incidents should not be occurring when they have access to weather reports indicating whether a flight should be cancelled."

"Those willing to take a commercial risk may be found strictly liable for an accident (as defined under the CACL Act) if their passengers suffer injuries," said Shine Lawyers’ Transport Law Solicitor, David Adams.

Mr Adams said the injured passengers and their families would be eligible for legal recourse against Balloon Safaris and its insurers under the Civil Aviation (Carrier’s Liability) Act 1967 (NSW) (CACL Act).

"If successful, each passenger would be entitled to compensation for their injuries, treatment expenses and any economic loss suffered as a result of the incident."

"The frequency of these types of accidents is concerning" said Adams.

In the first three months of the year there have been several incidents. One incident involving the same operating company occurred in January leaving four people injured, and another as recently as February occurred in the Yarra Valley in Victoria.

"It is important people are aware of their right to sue in these circumstances."

"People pay hundreds of dollars for an enjoyable and scenic experience aboard a hot-air balloon. They don’t pay for injuries, loss of enjoyment and an unexpected crash," said Adams.

A competing company in the Hunter Valley, Beyond Ballooning, told AAP it cancelled its flight on Friday morning due to "unsuitable flying conditions."

The bureau of Meteorology says there was fog and light winds in the Hunter Valley at the time.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: April 9, 2018.

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