Aviation Law & International Treaties

San Francisco Catastrophic Injury Lawyers

International travelers may be subject to greater limitations on the amount of damages they may recover after an aviation accident than those imposed on domestic travelers. These limitations have been set in motion by the Warsaw Convention and the Montreal Agreement.

Officially titled “Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to International Transportation by Air”, the Warsaw Convention was the result of two international conferences held in Paris (1925) and Warsaw (1929). Although the United States was not directly involved in either conference, it did announce adherence to the Warsaw Convention in 1934.

The Warsaw Convention was drafted when international air travel was still in its infancy and serves two main purposes. First, it established uniformity among the many countries relative to the issuance of paper tickets and documentation for checked baggage. More importantly, the convention also limited liability for aircraft carriers in the event of damages, delay, property loss, injury, or death. The Warsaw Convention also established the following rules related to carrier liability:

  • Claims can only be brought within a limited two-year period.
  • A carrier’s liability is limited to no more than 16,600 special drawing rights (or SDR, an IMF-established mix of currency values) for personal injury and 17 SDR per pound for lost baggage.

The Warsaw Convention was later amended by the Hague Protocol in 1955, although this treaty was never ratified by the United States. The Warsaw Convention was later replaced by the Montreal Convention in 1999. This multilateral treaty amended some of the provisions of the Warsaw Convention concerning compensation for victims of aviation accidents.

The Montreal Convention provides for the following:

  • Carriers are strictly liable for damages reaching $75,000 per passenger.
  • Carriers are required to carry liability insurance.
  • Victims or family members of aviation accidents can sue foreign carriers where they maintain residence.
  • Victims cannot receive compensation for psychiatric injury unless they can prove that it is the direct result of a physical injury.
  • Passengers are now compensated for lost baggage through a fixed rate rather than by weight. An airline’s maximum liability for lost baggage is a fixed 1,131 SDR per passenger. This means that a passenger will be at a disadvantage if the total value of the lost baggage exceeds this amount.

Have you or a loved one been involved in an aviation accident? An experienced lawyer from our firm is familiar with the stipulations provided by international treaties and can help you choose the best course of legal action to recover compensation. Call Scarlett Law Group for help getting the justice you deserve.

Fill out a brief form for a free consultation, or call our San Francisco personal injury lawyers at (415) 688-2176.

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