Airplane Accidents, International

No Compensation Caps for Plane-crash Victims

The Herald reports that the world-wide airline industry has recommended revisions to the compensation system for injuries and deaths resulting from international airplane accidents. The Warsaw Convention of 1929 limits damages to $75,000 per person unless “intentional or reckless” conduct on the airlines’ part is established. Aviation companies concede that the $75,000 limit is too low and encourages lawsuits, so the industry is considering eliminating the universal cap and allowing countries to set their own guidelines. For more than 66 years the aviation industry has benefited from a system where quick and equitable settlements have been the exception to the rule. The airlines should be applauded for pushing change. There should be no limits on compensation payable by U.S. airlines. A limit on claims would do little to deter airlines from measures that sacrifice safety and increase profit margins. When deciding on compensation, U.S. courts consider the lost wages of the dead or injured victim, the loss of economic support and services to family members, and the loss of companionship and guidance provided by a spouse or parent killed in the crash. But because international aviation accidents fall under Warsaw Convention caps, victims are forced to file legal claims in order to receive compensation that fairly reflects the incident’s enormity.