When the courts have to figure compensation for people aboard Asiana Airlines Flight 214, the potential payouts will probably be vastly different for Americans and passengers from other countries, even if they were seated side by side as the jetliner crash-landed.
An international treaty governs compensation to passengers harmed by international air travel — from damaged luggage to crippling injuries and death. The pact is likely to close U.S. courts to many foreigners and force them to pursue their claims in Asia and elsewhere, where lawsuits are rarer, harder to win and offer smaller payouts.
Some passengers have already contacted lawyers.
Federal law bars lawyers from soliciting victims of air disasters for the first 45 days after the crash.
Congress enacted that law in 1996 amid public anger over lawyers who solicited clients in the days immediately following the ValuJet Flight 592 crash in the Florida Everglades and the crash of TWA Flight 800 off the New York coast.