Passengers injured on turbulence-hit Singapore Airlines flight face varied compensation

3 weeks ago 63

Updated

May 22, 2024, 05:17 PM

Published

May 22, 2024, 05:17 PM

SINGAPORE - Passengers injured by severe turbulence on a Singapore Airlines flight on May 21 are likely eligible for compensation, but the amount each receives could differ dramatically even for identical injuries due to an international treaty.

One passenger died, and the airline said 30 passengers were treated for injuries after the flight SQ321 from London to Singapore made an emergency landing in Bangkok on May 21. Bangkok’s Samitivej Hospital said it was treating 71 passengers.

Under the Montreal Convention, Singapore Airlines is liable for accidents, which can include turbulence, on international flights regardless of whether the airline was negligent, according to United States’ aviation lawyers.

If passengers file a lawsuit, the airline cannot contest damages up to around US$175,000 (S$235,890).

If a passenger seeks larger damages, Singapore Airlines can try to limit liability by proving it took all necessary measures to avoid the turbulence, said Mr Mike Danko, a California attorney who represents passengers. He said airlines rarely prevail on such arguments.

Mr Danko said the airline can also limit their liability by showing the passenger bore some of the fault for the injury, such as by ignoring warnings to wear a seat belt.

The size of damages often comes down to the country where the case is filed and how the legal system assesses the amount of compensation.

“First and foremost what is the jurisdiction where you can bring a claim and how do they value injury claims,” said Mr Daniel Rose, a New York attorney with Kreindler & Kreindler, which represents passengers.

For example, US juries have a...

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