Martinique: Plane Crash Aftermath

Bien Vu writes (Fr):”It's been more than 8 months since 152 Martiniquans died in a crash in Maracaibo [,Venezuela]. Since then, talks at cross-purposes between the Association aux Victimes du Crash Aerien [association of victims of the aerial crash] (AVCA) and the Brazilian insurer of West Caribbean Airways who cannot seem to agree on the amount of indemnification for the victims’ loved ones. (…) the insurer's lawyer has started a case-by-case determination. (…) But how much money is that much pain worth? (…) who can declare that this person or that person is worth more than others?”

1 comment

  • Hans Ephraimson-Abt

    The material damages which the surviving families of international aviation disasters can recover are governed by the laws of the country of jurisdiction of the victim, according to article 28 of the 1929 Warsaw Convention. The amount of recoverable damages depends on the provable “material” (domages materiels) loss caused (loss of income, loss of support, etc).

    Whether the recovery of non economic damages (domages morales) is available depends upon the applicable State laws. In some countries “conscious pain and suffering of the deceased pending his impending death” is recoverable. For example if the passengers of an air plane would know in advance that they could not survive a crash. The determination of such damage depends on the circumstances under which the tragedy occurred. There is generally no yardstick to quantify such loss.

    Unless otherwise provided by the applicable State laws, compensation for the pain and suffering of surviving family members is not available. In some countries widows can recover for the loss of their husbands (companionship).

    It is not in the interest of the victims or of the surviving families to have to share in a “lump sum” damages settlement – because the material losses differ widely in each individual case (loss of an infant, student, single person without dependent, husband/wife, elderly person, varying income levels, etc).

    Therefore it is essential that the victims be advised in their claims by expert legal counsel experienced in the post incident resolution and knowlegeable in the damages negotiations with the representatives of the responsible parties (airlines, third parties and their respective insurers).

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