Law on International Air Disasters

The Montreal Convention sets forth the compensation for victims of air disasters.  Adopted in 1999, the Montreal Convention provides for a two-tier compensation structure for those injured or killed in an international flight.  An airline is strictly liable for up to 113,100 Special Drawing Rights (SDR) of damages.  That is, if it can be shown that a person suffered 113,100 SDRs of damage, the airline is strictly responsible for that amount.  If however, the damages exceed  113,100 SDRs, then the airline can claim that the harm was caused by a third-party, such as the manufacturer of the airline or the air-traffic controllers.

An SDR is set by the International Monetary Fund and is adjusted daily based on a basket of foreign currencies.  On July 8, 2013, 1 SDR = $1.48871. 

As of 2013, 103 countries are either signatories or ratified the Montreal Convention, including the 101 UN member states.  These include the United States, all the member states of the European Union, China, South Korea, Japan, Israel, Mexico and many others.

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