P.I. Pulse: Asiana Airline Crash Claims
If it’s not a mammoth cruise liner that causes injuries and distress, it’s a large airliner. Earlier this summer, as has been discussed by news outlets all over the world, an airplane operated by Asiana Airlines, based in South Korea, experienced a crash landing when attempting to complete its flight in San Francisco. The crash caused nearly 200 injuries and three deaths, although there were over 300 survivors, including members of the crew as well as passengers.
As is now known, the flight’s crash landing was not the result of unexpected inclement weather, but rather the consequence of pilot error. (The pilot who has been deemed responsible, while he had flown the type of aircraft previously, had never landed one at that particular airport.) Naturally, given the fact that there were injuries and deaths at the hands of a corporation whose employee(s) acted negligently, there have been – and will be more – lawsuits filed by the victims against those responsible. However, the process of compiling a lawsuit, and determining what company to sue and in which country you may sue them, is an intricate one.
For example, earlier this month, a number of passengers filed a lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco – the location of the incident – against both Asiana Airlines and Boeing, the company that manufactured the plane. According to the lawsuit, the fatal plane crash was a “byproduct of reckless inattention by the Asiana pilots in combination with dangerous shortcomings with auto flight modes and low airspeed warning systems incorporated into the Boeing aircraft.” In addition, the lawsuit makes mention of the fact that the 777 aircraft provided for both lap and shoulder harnesses for passengers in Business Class (for which tickets are more expensive), only lap harnesses were available for passengers in Economy Class.
So, can anyone who was injured by the crash landing sue the airline in a U.S. court? No. According to the Montreal Convention of 1999, you cannot file a lawsuit against an airline in the U.S. if your final destination was another country. So, if passengers on the flight had purchased round-trip tickets that would return them to South Korea, making South Korea their final destination, they would not be allowed to sue the airline in a U.S. court. Likewise, if passengers were planning on catching a connecting flight to a location outside the country, they too would be prohibited from filing a lawsuit against Asiana in the U.S. While this stipulation protects the airline from lawsuits in the U.S., it does not protect other relevant companies, like Boeing, from receiving lawsuits related to this incident.
Asiana Airlines has recently declared that they will pay an initial sum of $10,000 to each of the survivors of the crash, not including their medical bills, which the airline says it will handle. An added benefit inherent with this planned payment is that passengers who accept the money will still be allowed to sue the company. In many unfortunate cases, large corporations prey on the financially vulnerable by making them sign an agreement surrendering their right to sue the company if they accept a payout.