THE operators of a helicopter which crashed into a city pub, claiming ten lives, have begun making interim payments to the victims, lawyers for those affected have said.
Thompsons Solicitors, who are representing more than 50 victims of the Clutha tragedy, said the move will help their clients cover loss of salary while compensation is agreed.
Ten people died and more than 30 were taken to hospital after a police helicopter crashed through the roof of the packed Clutha pub in Glasgow on November 29.
The lawyers said that many victims have been unable to work since the accident and have incurred significant loss of earnings.
Hannah Bennett, a lawyer with Thompson’s Clutha legal team, said: “The commencement of interim payments from Bond Helicopters to Clutha victims is a very significant milestone and is welcomed.
“Many of our clients are suffering from ongoing physical and psychological symptoms as a result of their involvement in this tragic and life-changing event.
“The last thing our clients need right now is concern over financial issues.
“Securing the payment of interim compensation from Bond will help address these financial concerns while we work towards securing our clients a full award of compensation.
“It is our job to support our clients through these difficult times.”
The payments are being made to the injured and to the families of those killed or injured.
Thompsons have a serious injury and fatal injuries unit specifically set up to deal with fatal and catastrophic injury incidents like the Clutha tragedy.
They began sending letters and initiating claims to the representatives of Bond Air Services at the beginning of December 2013.
The lawyers said that the claims are being bought under Section 76 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982, which states that where material loss or damage is caused to any person or property on land by an aircraft while in flight the owners of that aircraft are strictly liable.
In a statement, Bond said: “Since the terrible tragedy at the Clutha, we have been working with Glasgow City Council and other parties to see how bereaved families and the local community can best be supported.
“In December we established and publicised two helpline numbers (free from both landlines and mobile phones) on 0800 1388 544 or 01623 786 808.
“While the causes of the tragedy remain unknown, we confirmed from the outset that we were committed to ensuring proper compensation was paid to all of those who have suffered loss as a result of the accident.
“We will continue to ensure that issues raised by anyone who calls the helpline are dealt with as soon as practicably possible.
“Most claims should be capable of being settled without delay, however, for complex claims which may take longer to resolve, and where appropriate, we will make interim payments without the need for each party to apply to the court.”
The three helicopter crew who were killed were Pilot David Traill, 51, Pc Tony Collins, 43, and Pc Kirsty Nelis, 36.
Those killed in the pub were John McGarrigle, 57, Mark O’Prey, 44, Gary Arthur, 48, Colin Gibson, 33, Robert Jenkins, 61, and Samuel McGhee, 56.
Customer Joe Cusker, 59, was pulled from the wreckage alive but died in hospital from his injuries almost two weeks later.
It has not yet been established what caused the helicopter to fall from the sky, although investigators said initial evidence rules out engine or gear box failure.
Thompsons said that as well as negotiating interim payments they are employing the services of medical experts to help the victims with their recovery.