CANBERRA, Sept 21, 2014:
Malaysia Airlines could face a costly negligence lawsuit on top of a US$54.5 million (RM176 million) compensation bill for the loss of 298 lives on MH17.
Legal experts have suggested the airline is likely to be sued by the victims’ families and even governments for sending MH17 over the Ukraine on July 17, according Australian news portal, news.com.au.
The airline has also indicated it expects further suits, confirming compensation being offered to families would not be conditional on the cessation of legal action.
Under the Montreal Convention, Malaysia Airlines is held liable for the crash even though pilot error or mechanical issues have been ruled out as the cause.
The convention allows for compensation of about US$183,000 to be paid for each victim.
An airline spokesman said an advance payment of US$50,000 being offered to relatives would be part of the final damages payable.
“The payment being offered is not conditional on the families waiving any rights to claim further compensation from the airline and that the families remain free to take whatever further legal action they deem appropriate,” she said.
Compensation payments are expected to take up to a year to finalise, depending on what sort of legal action is taken.
Three other commercial passenger jets were in the same airspace at the time of the apparent missile strike that brought down MH17. Airlines stopped flying the route after the incident.
US carriers were already avoiding the area at the time, and Qantas had also taken the decision not to fly over the war zone.
Aviation lawyer Jerry Skinner, who is representing two families caught up in the MH17 disaster, urged Malaysia Airlines to resolve the compensation issue quickly, news.com.au reported.