| Read Time: 3 minutes

What If Your Plane Crashes Internationally

Written by:
Author Photo
Chuck Geerhart

The odds of being in an international plane crash are 1 in 1.2 million, and the odds of dying in that crash are 1 in 11 million.

To put that into perspective, your chance of dying in a car wreck is 1 in 5,000. Though flying is one of the safest forms of transportation, when an international plane crash does occur, the results are devastating.

Add in the confusion of sorting out international laws, and you’ve got a bona fide catastrophe.

At the Law Office of Chuck Geerhart, we understand the complex legal and factual challenges an international aviation accident presents.

We have decades of experience establishing international plane crash liability and understand that applying the proper aviation and international laws is essential to recovering fair compensation. 

A premier trial lawyer and member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, Chuck Geerhart knows you deserve an advocate who will fight for your rights from start to finish.

That’s why he never handles more than 20 serious injury cases at a time so that he can ensure all of his clients get his undivided attention. 

What Happens When Your Plane Crashes Internationally?

Even if you live in the U.S., when your airplane crashes internationally, U.S. laws may not apply.

In some situations, international treaties such as the Montreal Convention control jurisdiction and personal injury and death claims after an international plane crash. That can mean that a victim or their family might be unable to sue in a United States court.

Occasionally, passengers also unwittingly agree to pursue claims in the country where the airline is incorporated.

Knowing which laws to apply and how to apply them is often the primary challenge when bringing international plane crash lawsuits.

For instance, if you are a U.S. citizen on a plane owned by France that took off in Canada and crashed in Ecuador, determining the appropriate jurisdiction to file a lawsuit in and what laws apply could become incredibly complicated.

For this reason, consulting with an experienced international plane crash attorney after you’ve been injured in an international plane crash is critical.

A skilled attorney can investigate your case, apply the appropriate laws, and help you determine liability.  

The Montreal Convention

Some countries have judicial systems that make it difficult for foreign plaintiffs to win their cases. Collecting from a defendant in another country can be difficult even when the plaintiff wins.

The compensation available to victims may also be significantly different in countries with lower damage caps than in countries governed by an international treaty.

While foreign laws can limit or shift an airline’s liability when they are not signatory members of the Montreal Convention, the Convention allows U.S. citizens in an international aviation accident to file a claim in their state of residence.

So, for example, if you live in California and your U.S.-bound Italian-owned flight out of England crashes in Germany, the Montreal Convention allows you to file a claim against the carrier in California.

Under the Montreal Convention, air carriers from the 137 countries signed on to the Convention are also strictly liable for damages up to 100,000 special drawing rights.

Special drawing rights are a type of asset, like a currency, created and regulated by the International Monetary Fund that has an exchange rate with the U.S. dollar.

Victims also have a right to seek compensation for their or a loved one’s injuries, including medical expenses, funeral costs, and loss of earning capacity or income from the decedent. They can also seek damages for physical pain and mental anguish.

If you or a loved one were injured or killed in an international plane crash, figuring out what to do next can feel like a monumental hurdle.

But a knowledgeable attorney who understands international aviation law can answer all your questions, calculate your damages, and determine where you need to file your claim so that you have a fighting chance of receiving the compensation you’re entitled to.

Call the Law Offices of Chuck Geerhart Today

At the Law Office of Chuck Geerhart, we pride ourselves on providing every client with compassionate representation and fierce advocacy.

We have over 30 years of experience and are fearless when we go toe-to-toe with airlines, airports, government agencies, and insurance companies.

When you hire the Law Office of Chuck Geerhart, you can rest assured that one of California’s most exceptional legal teams is handling your plane crash claim.

Contact us today for a consultation to learn more about how we can help you hold the parties responsible for your aviation accident accountable.

Related Articles

  • Get In Touch *Required Fields