Liability of Airlines for Personal Injuries
Generally, if you suffer injuries because of another party’s negligence you can sue that party for the full extent of your economic loss. This is not the case if you suffer a serious injury on a commercial airplane.
Canada has signed an international treaty (the Warsaw Convention) that limits the amount that airlines have to pay for personal injuries. Under this treaty, a person injured on an airplane can only recover about $175,000 regardless of the severity of his or her injuries or the extent of his or her economic loss.
While the treaty limits the amount that can be recovered, it does make recovery easier in some respects. Ordinarily, an injured person must prove that the party who caused his or her injuries was negligent. This is not necessary in a case against an airline. An airline is automatically liable to pay unless it can prove that the injury occurred despite its taking all necessary measures. The treaty also allows the injured party to sue in the jurisdiction where they live, regardless of where the airline carries on business.
Finally, the limit of $175,000 does not apply if the injured person can establish that the airline acted recklessly and with knowledge that its actions would likely result in injury.
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