I was watching the news about the Asiana 214 crash and an attorney came on to discuss who would the passengers could sue. I wasn’t too impressed with what he said, so here goes. Liability for aircraft accidents involving international flights is governed by the Montreal Convention. The passenger does not have to prove fault on the part of the airline. For claims less than $100,00 SDRs (approximately $179,000.00) the airline has to pay proven damages. Even if they can show that someone or something else was responsible for the accident the airline has to pay. For claims above this amount the airline has to prove the cause of the accident was out of their control, such as the airplane being shot down.
This burden shift is important. Normally, the Plaintiff, here the passenger, has to prove both fault and damages. Under the Montreal Convention all the passenger never has to prove is damages not fault.