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As a San Francisco personal injury attorney, over the years, I have seen many brain injuries and spinal injuries, fractures, burns, internal injuries and wrongful deaths. In any community, we attorneys will be exposed to these serious personal injuries over time; however, catastrophic injuries are actually not all that common to the every attorney.

What is shocking about the Asiana Airlines crash is how in the space of mere seconds, so many people sustained so many catastrophic injuries. We know that plane crashes are horrific, and we are usually all saddened by the tragic loss of life. We count those in this crash at SFO as lucky because we only have two fatalities so far. But what about the severe life-altering injuries sustained by so many on board? Yes, the passengers have survived, however the toll of catastrophic injuries is very very high.

For example, this recent airplane Korean Asiana Airline crash at SFO, resulted in over 180 injuries. Among those serious personal injuries treated by local hospitals were fractured spines, stretched and torn ligaments, internal bleeding, severe fractures needing surgical repair, compound fractures, road rash and head injuries, many permanent and all requiring long-term treatment. Chief Executive Sue Currin at San Francisco General Hospital expects even more patients to come in for treatment of minor injuries and for mental health services in the days to come.

Trauma and serious injuries of this nature are typical when passengers are badly bounced around in a plane that hits short of the runway. Injuries from seatbelts and striking against armrests are common in this crash.

Dr. Geoff Manley, vice chairman of neurological surgery at the University of California San Francisco, who treated many of the patients at San Francisco General Hospital, said in a telephone interview:

We have a lot of spine trauma. People’s spinal cords were fractured and hyper-extended, meaning they’ll need to be kept stable so the spinal cord itself isn’t damaged any more. There are some people very, very badly hurt. Some of the worst injuries are traumatic brain injury.

As a San Francisco Spinal Cord Injury Attorney, and Brain Injury Attorney I’ve been privileged to help many clients over the years who have sustained spinal injuries as well as traumatic brain injuries. These types of injuries require intensive medical care and long-term medical assistance and rehabilitation. This treatment generally is very expensive and the airline must compensate the injured passengers for all of their costs of treatment.

Interestingly, if the passengers are from China and their medical costs are paid by their government, should Asiana Airlines get off the hook? What do you think? Should the government of China make a claim against the airline for reimbursement for all of the treatment to Chinese citizens? And what about the cost to our City? San Francisco General Hospital will stretch its resources to help all of these injured passengers. I know the hospital will send out bills, however how many will actually be paid? Who is to bear the cost of this airline’s gross negligence?

San Francisco General Hospital doctors and nurses have been continuing to treat patients. One primary goal is to reunite families after the plane crash, many of which are in different Bay Area hospitals and others flying here from Asia.

San Francisco General administrators are commending all of the staff involved and calling it a heroic response to the Asiana crash Saturday, July 6, at SFO. Doctors, nurses, radiologists, janitors and interpreters came in spontaneously or worked extra hours. The cafeteria stayed open throughout Saturday night. The pediatric clinic treated adults.

Todd May, Chief Medical Officer, said,

The hospital did what was needed to take care of the patients. This was a defining moment for this institution. We don’t always work together seamlessly as teams, but this demonstrated that we can.

My heart goes out to the injured and the loved ones of those who have been injured in this horrific airplane crash. And I have to admit a bit of anger that this airline could let a pilot with so little experience be responsible for the lives of so many people. Until I hear otherwise, I will assume that this crash just resulted from gross pilot error, and it makes me kind of sick to think about it. This type of air disaster is rare these days, certainly in the U.S.A., and I had hoped never to learn of a crash at our very own airport here in San Francisco.

I hope that this article as well as my head and brain injury posts will help to educate the public and therefore lead to more understanding and less frustration about spinal injuries and head injuries.

Hello, I’m Claude Wyle. Do you have any ideas to help educate people on spinal injuries or brain injuries in San Francisco? Please comment or ask for a subject you would like to see researched or discussed in this blog. Thanks. Feel free to contact me at

About the author: Claude Wyle is an aggressive advocate for San Francisco Bay Area spinal cord and head trauma survivors. Claude has decades of experience representing those harmed by the wrongful conduct of others, and, as a San Francisco brain injury lawyer, has fought to protect the rights of spinal and head injury survivors throughout his legal career.

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