San Francisco Bay Area Aviation Law Attorney Clarifies How Families of Air Disaster Victims May Seek Compensation from Airlines

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Veteran attorney Jerry Sterns details implications of "Montreal Convention" governing liability of most carriers in international flights

The Montreal Convention is a treaty that was adopted in 1999, amending important provisions of the original 1929 Warsaw Convention's rules concerning compensation for the victims of air disasters

Families of passengers on recent airplane accidents in Libya and Ethiopia may be among those who are eligible to collect financial compensation from the responsible airlines, according to Jerry Sterns, partner in the San Francisco Bay-based Law Offices of Sterns & Walker.

Sterns, a highly regarded attorney who specializes in aviation law disputes on the side of the passengers and families, has more than 40 years of courtroom experience and is one of the few aviation attorneys whose wins against major airlines have been affirmed by the United States Supreme Court.

The issue of how victims of air disasters are able to recover damages has come into focus in the wake of tragic plane crashes recently in Libya, where a 10 year-old boy was the sole survivor out of 104 passengers aboard an Airbus plane that crashed, and near Beirut, where an Ethiopian flight killed all 90 on board.

"The Montreal Convention is a treaty that was adopted in 1999, amending important provisions of the original 1929 Warsaw Convention's rules concerning compensation for the victims of air disasters," said Sterns. "The treaty protects passengers by introducing a two-tier liability system and by facilitating the swift recovery of proven damages without the need for lengthy litigation. The key is that the Montreal Convention only governs international flights and only applies to any 'accident' occurring during the flight, including crashes from even unknown causes, such as the Air France mid-Atlantic disappearance last year."

According to Sterns, under terms of the Montreal Convention, within 15 days of determining the identities of the passengers entitled to compensation, the responsible airlines must issue checks of $25,000 per passenger to cover the families' immediate economic needs. In addition, the airline is automatically responsible for a first tier of payments for all provable damages to all of the families currently equal to approximately $155,000, and then a second tier deals with claims exceeding the $155,000 limit, based on whether or not there is negligence on the part of the airline, an issue on which the airline now has the burden of proof.

Aviation accidents are the most devastating events that can possibly befall travelers and their families. The rules as to whether the Montreal or some other form of the Warsaw Convention, less favorable to passengers applies, and where the case can be brought, can be very involved and tricky. In such accidents, the families of victims need a reputable law firm to assist them with the questions that arise in the aftermath of this kind of terrible situation. For more information, please call 866.636.3592, or go to http://www.trial-law.com or http://www.airlawyer.net.

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