Other countries severely limit compensation that may be awarded in wrongful death lawsuits arising from airline accidents. For example, many other countries do not allow families to be compensated for loss of a loved one’s "care, comfort, or society." As a result, in almost all situations, the best venue for a family’s lawsuit against an airline is the United States.
If the airline passenger’s trip included an international stop, then the proper venue for any lawsuit against the airline is controlled entirely by international treaties known as the Warsaw and Montreal Conventions. The Warsaw Convention permits the passenger (or the passenger’s family) to sue the airline in the United States, even though the accident happened on foreign soil, if and only if:
- The passenger’s ticket was issued in the United States;
- The passenger’s journey was a round trip that started in the United States or was a one-way trip that ended in the United States;
- The airline is incorporated in the United States; or
- The airline’s principal place of business is in the United States.
The Montreal Convention has replaced the Warsaw Convention in most situations. The Montreal Convention adds to the list what has been called a "fifth jurisdiction." Regardless of where the accident occurred, or where the passenger began or ended his trip, the international traveler or his family may sue the foreign airline in the United States if the United States was the passenger’s "principal and permanent residence." For this fifth option to be available, however, the airline must maintain some sort of presence in the United States.