Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 missing plane is still not found after 12 grueling days of searching. Now talks of the possible millions that the passengers' families could be getting from the airline arise. Because of the negative search results on the missing plane after 12 days, the family of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 missing plane may just have to accept at least the idea of the worst case scenario. This idea being that the Boeing 777 carrying 239 people may not turn up any time soon, or that it may actually never be found.
The families of the victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 may get their day in court or not, but the disappearance of the plane still presents legal complications.
According to Dan Rose, a partner at the firm Kreindler & Kreindler who has represented passenger claims, having no knowledge of what happened to the 239 passengers of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 complicates the claims process and presents "some significant hurdles". However, this hurdles in no way terminates the airline's financial responsibilities to the passengers' families. He said, "From a legal point of view, it's not an unprecedented situation."
There is an international treaty known as the Montreal Convention, and under it, the airline must pay relatives of each deceased passenger an initial sum of around $150,000 to $175,000. If pursued, the family of the passengers can also sue Malaysia Airlines for further damages -- unless the airline can prove that it took all necessary measures to prevent a crash or any other incident that prevented passengers from arriving safely.
Brian Havel, a law professor and director of the International Aviation Law Institute at DePaul University says, "It's going to be extremely difficult for Malaysia Airlines to plead absence of negligence" when the plane is missing. He added, "The negligence may have even begun in the process of accepting stolen passports."
Liability could even go beyond Malaysia Airlines to the plane's manufacturer, Boeing, if a mechanical flaw is found to be the cause. However, it would be difficult to prove if the plane is still unrecovered by the time lawsuits are filed.
Attorney Monica Kelly at Ribbeck Law Chartered plans to file suit against Malaysia Airlines and Boeing. She believes that the families of the passengers could receive between $400,000 and $3 million in damages, but that it could take at least two years before any of them can see the money.
Meanwhile, Mike Danko, aviation lawyer with Danko Meredith says that a lot depends on the location the lawsuits are filed. He said that plaintiffs are usually given larger sums in U.S. courts than in other countries. He estimates the sum could amount to as large as $6 million to $8 million.
The disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines plane could slow the legal process, but if months pass and there are still no signs of the passengers, most countries will allow judges to presume the passengers dead, and thus allow claims to move forward, including life insurance and other other end-of-life matters.
Several lawsuits could open up since there are 14 different nationalities aboard the Malaysia Airlines plane.
Havel said that many of Malaysia Airlines' expenses will be covered by insurance policies. Insurance could cover averages between $2 billion and $2.5 billion per aircraft, including about $10 million per passenger.
Despite these assurances, the Malaysia Airlines missing plane's relatives' questions are still left unanswered and the grief is irreplaceable. Families of the passengers gathered in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing are upset thinks that authorities were withholding information.
One woman amongst the family members who protested at the Kuala Lumpur hotel said, "They just kept brushing us off, saying keep waiting and waiting for information. I don't know when we are going to wait 'til. It's already 12 days."
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 missing plane may or may never be found. Let's just hope that all questions will be answered and that the passengers will turn up soon, hopefully alive.