The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

July 14, 2013

Courts will treat Asiana passengers differently

(Continued)

Three girls from China were killed and 182 people injured, most not seriously.

Two girls, Ye Mengyuan and Wang Linjia, both 16, died right away. It is unclear, however, whether Ye Mengyuan died in the crash or in the chaotic aftermath. Both girls' parents appeared at a vigil Saturday near the airport, and thanked, through a translator, the more than 100 people in attendance for their support, KGO-TV reported. The other victim killed, 15-year-old Liu Yipeng, died Friday at a hospital where she had been in critical condition since the July 6 crash.

The dozens who were seriously injured — especially the few who were paralyzed — can expect to win multimillion-dollar legal settlements, as long as their claims are filed in U.S. courts, legal experts said.

Northern California attorney Mike Danko, who is consulting with several lawyers from Asia about the disaster, said any passenger who was left a quadriplegic can expect settlements close to $10 million if the case is filed in the United States. Deaths of children, meanwhile, may fetch in the neighborhood of $5 million to $10 million depending on the circumstances in U.S. courts.

In other countries, he explained, the same claims could be worth far less.

In 2001, a South Korean court ordered Korean Air Lines to pay a total of $510,000 to a woman whose daughter, son-in-law and three grandsons were killed in a 1997 crash in the U.S. territory of Guam that killed 228 people.

Broken bones in plane accidents usually mean $1 million settlements in the Unites States and in the low five-figure range overseas, Danko said.

In 2011, the Federal Aviation Administration put the value of a human life at $6 million when it was contemplating the cost-benefit of a new "cockpit resource management" regulation. But again, Danko said, that estimate applies only in U.S. courts. Foreign courts can be expected to pay far smaller settlements.

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