An international treaty known as the Warsaw Convention controls the legal rights of international travelers to sue the airlines for injuries suffered on an airliner. The Warsaw Convention is 70 years old. The Convention was originally designed to protect the airlines against excess damage liability. The three most recent major airline disasters are TWA 800, Swiss Air 111 and Egypt Air 990. All involved international flights covered by the Warsaw Convention. This year the United States Supreme Court confirmed that the Warsaw Convention “exclusively” controls a passenger?s right of recovery in U.S. courts for “physical injuries” sustained on international flights.
The Warsaw Convention applies to passengers ticketed on an international itinerary even if the crash occurs on the domestic part of a continuous international trip. For example, let us assume an American citizen purchases a round-trip ticket in Seattle for a flight to Mexico City with a change of planes in Los Angeles. If a crash occurred during the Washington to California leg, the Warsaw Convention would still apply because that passenger was embarked on an international flight based on his ticketing to Mexico, although other passengers may have only been ticketed for the Seattle to Los Angeles domestic leg.
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