Kreindler & Kreindler LLP has been retained by passengers who were on Asiana Flight 214. For nearly 65 years, Kreindler & Kreindler has advocated for victims of air disasters and has vigorously pursued and successfully obtained the highest compensation possible for its clients. The firm has taken a lead role in almost every major aviation accident over that time. The attorneys at Kreindler & Kreindler have the unparalleled expertise at handling the technical and legal issues that the crash of Asiana Flight 214 presents.
Legal issues surrounding the Crash of Asiana Flight 214
Attorney-Solicitation: Federal law prohibits unsolicited communications with any Asiana Flight 214 accident victim or relative of any individual involved in the accident before the 45th day following the accident that involves an air carrier providing interstate or foreign air transportation and any foreign air carriers accident that occurs in the United States.
What law governs claims against Asiana Airlines?
The Montreal Convention (formally, the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air) is a multilateral treaty that will govern passenger claims. Under the Montreal Convention, air carriers are strictly liable for proven damages up to 113,100 special drawing rights (SDR) (around $175,800). Where damages of more than 113,100 SDR's are sought, the airline may avoid liability only by proving that the accident was not caused by its negligence. In this case, there is little likelihood that the airline will be able to limit its liability.
Where can victims bring their claims against Asiana Airlines?
Article 33 of the Montreal Convention provides that an action for damages must be brought at the option of the plaintiff before the court :
(1) where Asiana Airlines is domiciled
(2) where it has its principal place of business
(3) where Asiana has a place of business through which the contract of carriage was entered into (where the ticket was bought)
(4) the place of destination (which may be the final destination on a round trip ticket)
(5) where the passenger has his or her permanent residence. All U.S. residents may sue Asiana in the United States based on Montreal Convention's "fifth jurisdiction" provision regardless of where they purchased their tickets and the destination of their flight. The potential for U.S. jurisdiction for foreign passengers will depend on the facts related to their flight ticketing and itinerary.
Can passengers seek punitive damages against Asiana?
The Montreal Convention does not permit the recovery of punitive damages.
What damages are available?
The passengers may seek full compensatory damages (e.g., damages for their physical pain and suffering and economic losses). The Montreal Convention does not provide for damages, rather the damages will be controlled by State law.
Products liability claims
In the event that evidence points to a problem with the airplane's design or manufacturer, the victims and the families of the deceased victims will be able bring actions in the United States against the Boeing Company and potentially U.S. manufacturers of the airplane's component parts. These claims would not be governed by the Montreal Convention. If these claims are successful, the manufacturers would be liable for compensatory damages and if the facts support it potentially punitive damages. Based on the Pilots' statements to the NTSB, we are looking at the airplanes' autothrottles, its autopilot and the absence of an aural low speed warning, which would have alerted the pilots that the aircraft's airspeed was slowing to dangerous levels.
The actions of the first responders will also have to be examined to determine which, if any, of their actions or omissions may have contributed further harm to any of the crash victims. The claims would be based on local California law and may involve certain immunities that first responders and/or government actors enjoy. There are also significantly shorter time periods in which to bring a claim if a local government agency is involved.