For those passengers on the Asiana flight that crashed in San Francisco who purchased their tickets in the U.S., they'll have access to the U.S. judicial system, says aviation attorney Michael Dworkin. It becomes somewhat questionable, however, when you have a foreign national or someone living overseas who purchases their transportation outside of the U.S., he adds, lending to one of the many legal complexities likely to ensue as a result of the crash.
Due to the fact, however, that this involves a U.S.-manufactured aircraft and engines and that the crash took place at a U.S. airport, it will be subject to U.S. jurisdiction. Any personal injury lawyer who represents the injured parties would have no problem sustaining U.S. jurisdiction, says Dworkin, adding that in these types of lawsuits, plaintiff's lawyers are pretty savvy and they're probably not going to confine any legal action to the carrier but rather "spray" all the potential defendants. In these cases, they not only look at the carrier but also the myriad of component manufacturers both in the U.S. and overseas.
The Montreal Convention treaty imposes a limitation of liability on the part of air carriers for accidents. This would be applicable in this instance but the treaty only works to the benefit of air carriers and doesn't apply to claims or actions against manufacturers or other entities, says Dworkin.
Dworkin says this process will take a long time, as there is a "constellation of hundreds of variables that the NTSB needs to sift through."