What Damages Can Aviation Accident Victims Recover?
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Miami Airplane Accident Attorney Explains Montreal Convention
Victims and their family members are entitled to certain damages depending on the circumstances leading up to airplane accidents. In this video, aviation accident attorney Curtis Miner explains the Montreal Convention, special drawing rights and how insurance companies are able to respond to legal action against airlines.
Under the Montreal Convention, the damages that you can recover are defined by the treaty itself. There is absolute liability or strict liability on the part of the airline or the air carrier for any bodily injury or wrongful death that you’ve suffered—up to 113,000 special drawing rights. Now you ask, “What on Earth are special drawing rights?” Sometimes they’re called SDRs. SDRs, or special drawing rights, are what they call a basket of currencies that are defined by the international monetary fund. So, it’s a combination of different currencies and they have a value. It fluctuates with the value of these currencies. You go to the IMF’s website and you can see what the value of an SDR is in U.S. dollar terms on any given day.
Under the Montreal Convention, that strict liability applies for anything up to 113,000 SDRs. I haven’t looked at it today, but typically that translates into about $150,000 to $175,000 U.S. dollars. What that means, you still have to prove your damages, it doesn’t mean that you’re automatically entitled to these figures, but if you can prove any level of damages up to that amount, the airline’s automatically liable. They can’t raise any defenses. If your damages exceed that amount, the airline can begin to raise defenses. Essentially, they can try to say, we were not negligent and the negligence was caused entirely by someone else. For example, an air traffic controller, another aircraft that ran into our aircraft. That sort of thing. It’s a very complicated concept and one that’s important for our passengers to know.