Although it has been more than a year since a Lion Air 737 MAX crashed off the coast of Indonesia, Boeing has begun settling at least some of the wrongful death claims brought by the victims’ families. The October 29, 2018 crash resulted in 189 deaths; the brand-new Lion Air 737 MAX crashed into the Java Sea, soon after take-off, killing all those aboard.
Families of Victims Could Receive As Much As $1.2 Million
According to CNBC, Reuters first reported that each victim’s family could receive as much as $1.2 million, which is believed to be the settlement amount in the 11 claims settled by the Wisner Law Firm out of Geneva, Illinois. Although Boeing is settling these lawsuits, the company is not admitting liability. Boeing is facing at least 55 lawsuits as a result of the Indonesian crash and is likely to face dozens of claims as a result of a second crash—the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March 2019—which was responsible for the deaths of 157 people.
Compensation Fund Separate from Lawsuit Settlements
A $100 million compensation fund was set up by Boeing earlier this year, which will pay the families of each person who died in a 737 MAX crash $144,500. These payments are separate from any litigation brought by the families of those who died in a Max plane crash. To reiterate, these families, even after collecting from the Boeing compensation fund, still have the right to file a claim against Boeing.
It is likely that settlements and/or jury awards for the Ethiopian crashes will be larger than for the Lion Air crash. Crash victims on the Ethiopian flight were from 35 different countries, including nine U.S. citizens and a number of United Nations employees. Many of those on the Ethiopian flight were young—in their twenties and thirties. The first claims to be settled could have a significant impact on mediation set by attorneys for other Lion Air plaintiffs, many of which are scheduled to take place during November and December.
Exact Settlement Amounts Not Disclosed Due to Confidentiality Agreements
The exact settlement amounts cannot be disclosed due to a Boeing confidentiality agreement. What is known, according to Reuters, is that the settlement award will depend on the nationality, age, income, dependents, life expectancy, and marital status of each victim. Since the victims of the Indonesian crash were primarily from that country, it is likely there will be lower settlements than if the victims had primarily been from the United States. The reason for this is due to the fact that incomes are higher in the United States.
Software Responsible for 737 MAX Crashes
In both 737 MAX crashes, it is believed the MCAS automated software was responsible for pushing the noses of the two airplanes to a dangerously low position. Erroneous sensor data, the result of flawed software design, then set off the automated systems, and the pilots were unable to switch to manual. Mediation for the Lion Air claims is set to go before retired judge Donald O’Connell of the Illinois Cook County Circuit Court. Ethiopian Airlines crash lawyers are pushing for a jury trial in a Chicago federal court. The question in these cases will be why Boeing allowed the 737 MAX to continue flying after the Lion Air incident.
Boeing’s Shares Rise Despite Settlements
Boeing claims the two fatal crashes were caused by a “chain of events,” while admitting there was a common link between the two air disasters, which was “erroneous activation” of the MCAS. Boeing is the target of a U.S. DOJ criminal investigation regarding the 737 MAX, which has been grounded worldwide following the Ethiopian crash. The settlements, the investigation, the groundings, and the compensation fund, do not seem to be having any effect on Boeing’s shares, which rose by two percent last week. Boeing is currently developing software updates and engaging in new pilot training, estimating that the grounding will cost the company somewhere in the neighborhood of $8 billion.
Getting the Help Necessary for a Wrongful Death Claim
Those who have lost loved ones as a direct result of negligence may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim. When a person dies—particularly when that person was the financial provider for the family—those left behind must not only deal with their grief, but also with the financial fallout. Your client’s ability to quickly obtain compensation for a wrongful death can, unfortunately, be limited, but help can come from USClaims. At USClaims, pre-settlement funding can help your clients pay those unexpected expenses in anticipation of a wrongful death court judgment or settlement.
Call 1-877-USCLAIMS today for the information you and your clients need and deserve.