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Should AIG have to pay USAir 1549 pax?

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Honey Ryder
Feb 26, 2004
Good video attached...

For the first couple of days after his flight ditched into the Hudson River, Paul Jorgenson was just glad to be alive. But then he started to need his laptop, his wallet, his car keys — all the essentials he had stowed under his seat and left behind in the sinking plane.

A pleasant woman at US Airways [LCC 2.71 0.04 (+1.5%) ] told him not to worry; he would be made whole for his losses. But then the matter shifted to US Airways’ insurer, the American International Group, operating under government stewardship since its bailout last fall.

“Everything went downhill,” said Mr. Jorgenson, a software executive in Charlotte, N.C., whose laptop and keys have not been recovered.

When a homeowner has a burglary or a driver has a crash, all it normally takes is a call to the insurance company and a description of the loss to activate the policy. But aviation liability insurance is different. It is activated by a finding of negligence on the part of an airline. If there is no negligence, then arguably there is no liability, and no obligation to pay claims.

That poses a problem for the passengers of US Airways Flight 1549. They suffered real losses and injuries, but they are widely perceived as having been saved from sudden, violent death by their heroic and quick-thinking flight crew, led by Capt. Chesley B. Sullenberger.

“Insurance companies try to protect their assets, obviously,” said Bruce D. Chadbourne, a co-author of the book, “Introduction to Aviation Insurance and Risk Management,” and a professor in the business school at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla. With the airline wearing a halo, A.I.G. “is going to play hardball.”

A spokeswoman for A.I.G.’s property and casualty business declined to comment.

“I wish I had a hammer to get them to do the right thing,” said Andrew J. Maloney, a partner in the New York firm of Kreindler & Kreindler, which specializes in aviation litigation. He is representing some of the US Airways passengers but has not filed any lawsuits. “They’re riding a wave of feel-good opinion about how well the flight crew handled the bird strike.”

A spokesman for US Airways, Morgan Durrant, said the airline issued each passenger a check for $5,000 shortly after the accident to cover their immediate needs; it had no legal obligation to do so. He declined to discuss the airline’s liability insurance policy or claims processes, saying the matter was pending and he did not want to jeopardize it.

Those familiar with industry practices said it would be many months before the issue of liability was resolved.

Tess Sosa, who was aboard Flight 1549 with her husband, 4-year-old daughter and infant son, said she suffered a mild concussion during the landing, and her husband was treated for a leg injury and hypothermia. The family, from New York, continues to get hospital bills, she said. But her top priority was getting the insurer to pay for therapy to reduce the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder for her and her daughter.

Because the plane was full on the day of the accident, she and her baby were seated near the wings, while her husband and daughter were far in the rear. The plane struck the water tail-first, and water began pouring in where Mr. Sosa and daughter Sophia were sitting.

Ms. Sosa, clambering over seats toward the front of the plane with her son in her arms, looked back and caught a horrifying glimpse of her husband standing in the deepening water, trying to hold their daughter above the surface.

“I can tell you, he was looking straight at me and he didn’t even see me,” she said. Since then she has been haunted by the image, and the feeling that in her escape she abandoned her husband and daughter.

Ms. Sosa said Sophia “remembers everything. I just want her to walk away from this knowing that we did everything we could to make it make sense.” A.I.G. agents have told her that for therapy she should use her own health insurance, but it has a $3,000 deductible for mental health care.

“Why should we be paying out of pocket?” she said. “That’s why they’re there. They’re the insurer.”
Mrs. Sosa does not understand insurance. AIG, is US Air's insurer, not hers.

If she really needed health care, like for a broken leg or influenza, she would be getting it. But she does not decide to receive mental heath care because she does not want to pay her deductible (and probably does not need it the "health" care). A big reason why insurance is so expensive in our nation is folks like Mrs. Sosa who seek out care for secondary gains unrelated to a recovery from an objective medical pathology. Some people just like attention.

The passengers were uninjured. Why should they get paid compensation for injuries they did not receive?

Also, this "journalist" apparently did not even perform a Google search to find facts relating to the matter:
It should be noted that almost immediately after the accident, the airline handed out $5,000 checks to all passengers to help passengers deal with their “immediate losses” - and some of those passengers say they’re being offered an additional $10,000 if they will sign a paper saying they won’t sue the airline.
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5k from USAir, plus 10k from AIG not to sue = 15k. That's a lot of laptops and car keys, and that's definitely a 3k deductible to fix your noggin from scary thoughts.
does the airline reimburse for lost luggage? I am assumng so, so why is this any different the airline should pay it for them
They did already pay for property losses and their inconvenience.

Mrs. Sosa wants to build her medical bills to treat her "fear." The problem with fear, is that fear can be completely irrational. If we begin allowing recovery for "fear" we'll see lawsuits because airplanes fly over in the sky and people are randomly afraid they might fall on them, etc. There is no specific, demonstrable, objective way to measure "fear" and folks can simply make it up, or could be induced into becoming fearful if they figure they could get paid for it.

Legally, this is why attorneys are known as "ambulance chasers." There is no profit in chasing the bus to the psychiatric care facility.
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Hmmm, let's see...If USAIR cut a check for $5000 per passenger, than the Sosa's (Ms Sosa was travelling with her husband, 4y/o, and infant) would have recieved a check for $15,000 (assuming that the infant was a lap child and not counted as a paying passenger.

I travel with my family (which is larger than the Sosa's, and believe me...$5k would be enough to cover all of our stuff...laptop included. The way I see it...they should have 10,000 for medical care...that's alot of Dr's Visits.

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