Airline crash victims rights: Most people don’t read the fine print of their plane tickets and don’t know what an airline is required to do in the event of an accident. The crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 on Saturday killed two passengers and injured more than half the 307 passengers and crew.
The incident raises the question: What rights do passengers have when they’ve been on an aircraft that crashes?
The Peck Law Group says they have quite a few.
Q: What is an airline required to do for passengers if one of its plane crashes?
A: International flights are governed by the Montreal Convention, an international air carrier treaty adopted in 1999 by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency. If the airline is found at fault for an accident, the Montreal Convention stipulates that it is liable for up to 113,100 special “drawing rights” per passenger, a value established by the International Monetary Fund. The value changes regularly, and for now equals about $170,000 per passenger in the USA.
Over the past 90 years, there have been various limitations imposed under international laws and treaties on what victims can recover from airlines for accidents. At this point, there is no limitation on the recovery against an airline unless it can prove that it took all necessary precautions to avoid the accident. “They wanted to make it easier for innocent victims and passengers in a plane accident to recover for an accident,” says Steven Peck, a personal Injury attorney at The Peck Law Group.
In other words, the passengers on Asiana’s flight will be able to sue if they choose to.
Q: Whom would passengers actually sue?
A: According to the Montreal Convention, the carrier would be liable for damages. That doesn’t mean it would be the only one blamed.
Other parties could be named in the lawsuit if they were involved in the manufacturing of the jet. For instance, if the jet can be proved to be negligently manufactured or designed, the aircraft manufacturer could be pulled into a lawsuit. “When you look at a plane, there’s a boatload of manufacturers,” Peck says.
Still, he says, the airline will not be able to abdicate its responsibility. “It’s just that maybe there’s a possibility that there’s some other defendants like the manufacturer of the parts,” Peck says.
Q: What steps do passengers have to take to get their compensation?
A: U.S. federal law prohibits law firms from contacting any potential clients for 45 days after an airplane crash. Please contact the Peck Law Group we have attorneys waiting to help you and we know your legal rights.
Q: Would passengers become part of a class-action lawsuit, or would they have to go it alone?
A: Since so many passengers are involved, the case would probably end up in multi-district litigation, also known as MDL. If the cases are pending in several different federal courts, a judicial panel on multi-district litigation would decide whether they should be consolidated into one court.
About the Author
Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.