Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Is Compensation Even Possible?


On March 8, 2014, Malaysian Airline Flight 370 went missing. The flightier jet carrying 239 passengers and crew turned from its Beijing trajectory and disappeared. Despite (or possibly because of) the wide area searched, the attempts of teams of expert searchers to even locate debris of the missing plane have been futile.

There had been many challenges with the search including rough seas and winds; the possible carrying away of debris, bad weather and the sort. Finally however, the worst has been confirmed, Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak announced to the relatives of passengers on board that new analysis of satellite images show that the plane went down off the western coast of Australia, the Southern Indian Ocean far from any landing area.

Upon receiving this information, families were devastated; they believe there is very little evidence for such an announcement.

The search for the craft continues, and officials are now gearing up to recover the plane’s black box. This device is said to be the key that will unlock all the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the craft.

There has been much speculation as to what happened on board, according to writer Emily Longerretta from Hollywood Life. A close friend of one pilot explains in an interview that his friend was in “no state of mind” to be operating a plane. Other sources state the possibility of hijacking. Although these sources have not been officially confirmed, it does not negate the fact that the plane with all its passengers and crew went missing.

Amazingly, amidst the search for the craft and now the search for the box, the families claim to have not been receiving the emotional support needed in such a tragic time. With this mind, who does the weight of compensation fall on? This issue is still unclear.

Already, the family members have been paid $500.00 to cover any financial needs they may have had and the airline has gone about paying hotels and meal costs for up to five family members and has covered transportation cost for those individuals that may have needed to get closer to the information source.

While this is substantively less than what any family member hopes to receive, it is said that much larger payouts will come later. The families are set to receive $175,000. Additionally, families will be bringing insurance claims and lawsuits against the airline and it is purported that the airline’s insurers will handle negotiations, CNN reports.

It is during this time that experts will take on the painstaking task of assessing how much a life is worth. Money Watch reports that it has been estimated that, potential compensation will range anywhere between $400,000 to $10 million dollars per person.

Additionally, central to their lawsuits is where the families actually file the claim. CNN reports that according to international law, families can choose to file lawsuits in the country that the ticket was purchased, where the airline is based or where the flight was headed.

This means that a majority of the suits will be brought in China or Malaysia; for the three Americans on board, it is likely that the suit will occur in the United States. “If the claim is brought in the U.S. courts, it’s of significantly more value than if it’s brought into any other court,” Terry Rolfe, leader of the aviation practice at Integro Insurance Brokers, told CNBC. ”

It is a fundamental principle that protection of life is safeguarded by the Constitution. Where these rights are infringed, redress must take its natural course. The bigger question here, is who is to be blamed? The captain of the plane was operating within his course of duty and within that course such an incident occurred. Can it not be said then that liability and essentially compensation rest on the Airline.

©Janelle Chambers 2014

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