Lawsuits and damages for victims of international flight disasters, such as the recent Asiana Flight 214 crash, whose investigation and aftermath is still unfolding, are governed by the 1999 Montreal Convention. The multi-country treaty took the place of the Warsaw Convention to establish the jurisdiction of everything from lost baggage to wrongful death and personal injury claims on an international flight.
Asiana Flight 214 departed from Seoul, South Korea before crash landing at the San Francisco International Airport, killing three people and injuring 181 in July.
If pilot error is found to be the cause of the crash, the Montreal Convention applies. Under the Montreal Convention, the South Korean airline is automatically liable for up to $150,000 per injured passenger. If victims sue for more, the airline is only able to avoid a larger payout if it proves it was not at fault. Passengers can only sue in the U.S. if one of the following is true:
They are a permanent U.S. resident
They bought the ticket in the United States
They were flying to the U.S. as their final destination
The flight carried 307 people, including 16 crew members, about 141 Chinese passengers, 77 Korean passengers and 61 American passengers. It can be argued that the Chinese and Korean passengers who bought a round-trip ticket beginning in their home country had a final destination of that country and should file their claim in their home country.
U.S. courts allow for more compensation for emotional distress, pain, and suffering than other countries, so victims from the crash may be able to receive more money if they are able to file in the United States. There is no limit to the amount a wrongful death or personal injury case can award to victims in California.
Posted in Aviation Accidents | Tagged Asiana Flight 214, liability, montreal convention, plane crash