In a case governed by the Warsaw Convention, where can a airline lawsuit for damages be filed?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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The Warsaw Convention, which is an international agency that regulates liability as it relates to aviation accidents, contains specific regulations regarding where an airline lawsuit may be filed. Specifically, the Convention is referring to aviation accidents regarding international flights, since international flights can cause some major confusion for passengers who may have been traveling to and from various locations, on airlines that are originally based in still another location.

The Warsaw Convention allows for one of four potential venues for a plane crash lawsuit. A lawsuit can be brought in: 

  1. The country where the passenger bought the ticket for the flight in question,
  2. The country to which the passenger was headed on the flight in question,
  3. The country in which the airline is officially incorporated as a business, or
  4. The country in which the airline operates its main business center.

Note that none of the options state that the lawsuit may be filed from the passenger’s home country, although should the passenger happen to reside in either the country where he bought the ticket, or in the country to which he was headed, the lawsuit can indeed take place there. It’s a common misconception that the passenger’s home country is an acceptable locale. The reasoning behind its absence from the Warsaw Convention regulations is that the home country, while convenient for the passenger during the lawsuit, does not necessarily have any bearing at all on the flight that took place and the resulting accident.

Determining which locale suits your case may be a matter of weighing the options, and is often based on convenience as well as possible legal advantages of one location over another. Ask an attorney with experience in aviation law for assistance if you are having trouble deciding where to proceed with a plane crash lawsuit.

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