Legal Moves Considered Around Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

As Malaysian Airline Flight 370 is still under investigation and the search continues for the lost plane, the families of the passengers are beginning the process of making legal decisions as though all of the 227 passengers died in a crash. The problem, of course, is that there is no wreckage of any type and ultimately no verification of any potential case facts. However, legal teams from around the world have been in contact with the families and are investigating the various methods of compensation that may be available, based on jurisdiction.

Foreign courts may not be as lucrative of a market as the United States court system, as western courts tend to value life higher in most situations, and punitive damage awards are relatively common. There are international limits placed on settlements when planes crash that are controlled by the Montreal Convention agreement, but U.S. courts can also be negotiated in a manner that allows higher settlements. This is normally negotiated with a non-disclosure agreement with the plaintiff, which essentially guarantees that none of the case facts are discussed publicly by either party.

The central issue in the current unverifiable situation is how much will the plaintiff families be paid and, possibly more importantly, when will they be paid. Some of the insurance companies have already begun settling claims even though there is absolutely no wreckage or retrievable bodies. The amount of time that has lapsed since the plane disappeared is apparently enough to satisfy the insurance companies; but, the Malaysian airline and other potential legal respondents are still diligently searching with zero luck for any evidence in a vast ocean.

Although Flight 370 is clearly a unique legal situation, there is a precedent for this legal procedure. An Air France plane crash in 2009 yielded the same legal possibilities, and those families are just now finally getting compensated for their losses. It appears that this may not be the case with this assumed crash, but there may also be other respondents who can be found negligent in court. This total settlement process will be a long-term issue before all is said and done.

Meanwhile, the legal professionals are beginning the evaluation of all legal avenues, even though many of the assumed victims’ families say this is still very early and not the time to begin compensation discussions. Many of the families still have hope that the plane actually landed somewhere and the passengers will eventually be located. Until then, the search continues for the plane and the search continues for the ensuing legal compensation process that is sure to follow.