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Korean Families Have Rights after Plane Crash in San Francisco

By Jeffrey Kim, Esq.

Last week three Asian girls lost their lives in a tragedy that could have easily been avoided. On Saturday, Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash-landed on a San Francisco International Airport runway, leaving three people dead and many more hospitalized in critical condition. Numerous Korean, American, Chinese and other passengers were severely injured.

The Korean pilot was still in the training phase of his licensing for the Boeing 777. No laws were broken, as he was authorized to pilot the plane, but it was the first time he had attempted to land a 777 at this particular airport. Eyewitnesses reported that the plane was flying too slow and too low to the ground.

Foreign passengers who survive a plane crash usually have the right to sue. According to attorney Jeffrey Kim, of Bayside, New York, and special counsel to the Teaneck, NJ law firm Davis, Saperstein, & Salomon, P.C., “International agreements control plane crash cases involving international flights. The Montreal Convention, modifying The Warsaw Convention, allows victims and their families to recover after a plane crash. The airline may be strictly responsible for paying up to 113,000 special drawing rights, a special measurement of currency that right now comes out to about $170,000.” Under special circumstances and for many victims of the recent Asiana crash, the award could be much higher.

Fortunately, deaths from airline crashes are relatively rare. Statistically, there are fewer than 1,000 deaths per year globally. When a commercial aircraft crashes, it is important that surviving passengers and their families hire the appropriate lawyers to handle their case. Few lawyers really understand that although burns and broken bones will heal, the continuing injury to plane crash survivors is the post-traumatic stress disorder that will plague them for years. The United States legal system has recognized post-traumatic stress disorder, also referred to as PTSD, as a real and significant injury qualifying for compensation in the form of monetary damages.

“Negligence on the part of the airline and its pilot will still need to be proven,” says Kim, “however, the ongoing investigation by U.S. government officials will be extremely important in placing blame for this tragedy.” Jurisdiction for the official investigation is with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the U.S. official government agency authorized to investigate aviation crashes and accidents. Its purpose is to determine the cause of aircraft accidents and to make safety recommendations. Since its formation in 1967, the NTSB has conducted over 132,000 investigations. National Commercial airline crash lawsuits usually involve information about pilot licensing, manufacturing defects, pilot training and other complicated subjects.

“Airline injury cases may appear simple, but they usually involve many highly technical details,” says Jeffrey Kim, an attorney who, together with Marc C. Saperstein, handles aviation cases in the United States of America. Mr. Saperstein represented a survivor of Colombian international Avianca Flight 52 that crashed on January 25, 1990 just short of Kennedy airport.

Plane crash cases may require the hiring an expert witness, who is a specialist that will prove responsibility for the plane crashing. Attorney Jeffrey Kim, a highly experienced personal injury trial lawyer, is fluent in Korean and is a graduate of the United States Military Academy, West Point. Jeffrey Kim can be contacted at 1 (855) KIM 4949 or 1 (800) LAW 2000 to discuss how he and his firm can help the air crash survivors and their families.