Timothy Loranger brings a life in the skies to the courtroom.

Over the years, Loranger has been a pilot, a marine, a mechanic, a triathlete, an attorney – and, always, a fierce advocate for public safety.

Loranger is a senior partner and head of the Transportation Department at mass disaster firm Wisner Baum. A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Loranger focuses his personal injury practice on aviation law. As an aircraft hydraulic mechanic for the military, Loranger got to know the inner workings of the military’s aircraft and operations. Since, he has brought that background to the world of injury law, championing servicemen and women injured and killed in aviation crashes, including in military planes, Black Hawk helicopters and fighter jets. Loranger also represents victims of civilian crashes.

As head of the Transportation Department, Loranger handles accidents on the ground, as well. The team brings negligent design and operation cases for every major mode of transportation, including train, bus, truck and boat litigation. In 2016, he served on the Plaintiff’s Management Committee in the litigation resulting from a 2018 Amtrak crash which killed eight train passengers. The parties reached a $265M settlement for the victims’ families. In 2019, Loranger was on the plaintiffs’ team for a duck boat crash case, which resulted in a $123M verdict. Loranger’s clients, whose mother was killed in the crash, received $20M alone.

Loranger’s passion for safety extends outside his firm, as well. He served as the Chairman of the Aviation Law Section for the American Association for Justice from 2021-2022 and is a member of the Consumer Attorneys of California and the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, Board of Governors which has awarded him five Presidential Awards. He is also a former member of the Civil Air Patrol, a nonprofit devoted to aerospace education, and the Boy Scouts of America.

Outside of his practice, Loranger changes travel in the air for on the ground: He is an avid runner and has competed in multiple triathlons.

Loranger is a member of the Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Consumer Lawyers.

Lawdragon: How did you first become interested in aviation cases?

Timothy Loranger: From the time I was young, I have been fascinated by airplanes and flight. My dream was to become a pilot. Along the way, I joined the Civil Air Patrol and then the Marine Corps, where I was trained as a mechanic working on RF-4B, F/A-18, and KC-130 aircraft and components. While in law school I discovered that there was a field of practice called "aviation law," so I gravitated toward firms with that practice, and I was lucky enough to connect with Wisner Baum (then Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman). This practice allows me to combine my passion for airplanes and flying with my natural curiosity about science and engineering.

LD: You came to this practice area with such an extensive technical background. What do you find most challenging about these kinds of cases?

TL: The challenge of aviation cases lies in getting to and understanding the root cause of a crash. This is also one of the most interesting and fulfilling parts. Military aviation is a particularly challenging area of law for a number of reasons.

First, the Feres Doctrine forbids our service members and their families from seeking compensation from the government for injuries that are service-connected. Unfortunately, there are times when negligence on the part of the military is the cause of or contributing cause to a crash. However, in most instances, the government is immune from liability.

Second, getting access to the aircraft that crashed, relevant witnesses and documents is challenging. You must comply with the Touhy procedures, which can be complicated and very slow. With these things in mind, obtaining compensation for these very deserving clients under difficult circumstances is very fulfilling.

LD: Tell us a bit about your role as head of the Transportation Department. What does that entail?

TL: First and foremost, the Transportation Department is made up of some of the most talented and dedicated lawyers and staff I’ve met in my 20 years of practice. Our team mainly focuses on injuries arising from commercial vehicles, buses and trains. My own practice has an emphasis on aviation, both civil and military. Other cases that we work on involve general products liability and trees cases where trees have failed and fallen onto people and vehicles causing injury or death.

LD: Out of all the work you’ve done in your career, what would you say is the most interesting matter you’ve handled?

TL: Aviation law presents many challenges and puzzles to be solved. In a violent airplane crash, the aircraft can suffer tremendous damage, making it difficult to determine the exact cause.

LD: Do you have an example of a case like that?

TL: One case we worked on involved a Cessna 421 that broke-up in flight and descended from an altitude of 25,000 feet above sea level. There was very little left of the aircraft, as it was mostly consumed by fire.

However, after a large amount of work and testing, we were able to determine that the crash occurred due to a sudden cabin decompression after a hose on the heater came off in flight. The pilots become incapacitated and the airplane descended and crashed, breaking up in flight due to the excessive forces on the structures. Our conclusions were never even considered by the NTSB during its investigation.

Unfortunately, there are times when negligence on the part of the military is the cause of or contributing cause to a crash. However, in most instances, the government is immune from liability.

LD: What matters are keeping you busy at the moment?

TL: I handled a wrongful death claim arising from the crash of a banner towing airplane at a local airport. In that case, the defendant was the management company that was hired to operate the airport. The complaint alleged that the airport management company failed to respond to the crash in a timely fashion and, as a result, the pilot died from the ensuing fire and not the crash itself. In short, there were insufficient personnel and working equipment available to respond quickly to this emergency as was required by the management contract that was in place at the time of the crash.

LD: What was most challenging about that case?

TL: One challenge was showing that the airport management company failed to properly train its employees in emergency response procedures, including how to maintain and use the emergency response equipment – their most important obligations. In addition, we discovered personnel who should have responded had actually gone to lunch, leaving the airport in a dangerous condition.

LD: Did you see any policy changes to help prevent similar tragedies in the future as a result of the case?

TL: Our understanding is that emergency procedures and training were updated, as were the record-keeping procedures. In addition, the equipment used for firefighting and rescue were updated and are now serviceable.

LD: Tell me a bit about your firm. What makes it unique?

TL: Wisner Baum has gathered a uniquely passionate group of lawyers and staff who believe very strongly in our motto: Even our small group of dedicated people can effect tremendous change in the world. This passion and dedication becomes very apparent the moment a person comes into contact with us.

LD: Looking back, is this the type of practice you imagined yourself having while in law school?

TL: While in law school, I was very vocal about my intention never to practice personal injury law. In fact, I focused my studies on intellectual property (patent, copyright, independent film distribution, etc.). Of course, this was a sign of my ignorance about the law and personal injury in particular.

Once I discovered that "aviation law" was a potential area of practice, I looked more into the field and discovered it was exactly what I was passionate about. This area is truly a David versus Goliath situation with large manufacturing companies and insurance companies on the other side, always working to protect their bottom line.

Even our small group of dedicated people can effect tremendous change in the world.

LD: What advice do you have for current law school students who might be trying to decide the focus of their practice?

TL: My daughter just finished her second year of law school and I find it fascinating to see her pick her path. To my daughter and to other law students I have this advice: Find an area of law that fascinates you and keeps you interested in the work you are doing. The practice of law is challenging and fulfilling, and also grueling and stressful. As in many careers, you have to find motivation and passion within you.

Also, take time off from work to recharge your batteries. Burnout is real and self-care is critical.

LD: How do you recharge your batteries?

TL: When I'm not at the office, I'm home spending time with my wife, daughter and two dogs. I love gaming, movies and taking care of our yard, feeding the hummingbirds who have built their nests nearby.

LD: Do you have a favorite book or movie about the justice system?

TL: My absolute favorite movie about the justice system is “Inherit the Wind.”