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Spanair crash victims fight for compensation as court hearing begins

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SURVIVORS of the Spanair crash in 2008 and family members of the deceased have called for 43 million euros in compensation – but they have only been offered two million.
A case which will be heard in court starting from today (Tuesday), concerning 71 relatives of 30 people who died when the aircraft caught fire just after take-off from Madrid, involves claims for psychological and physical damage, expenses, loss of earnings and frustrated professional expectations.
Their lawyer Carlos Cotillas has cited the 1999 Montréal Convention, which calls for the liability of airlines for the total damages incurred to victims with no legal or financial limits.
He has rejected Spanair’s insurer, MAPFRE’s use of compensation tables for traffic accidents, since the air crash on August 20 six years ago was the worst in Spain’s aviation history in over a quarter of a century.
The solicitor is calling for compensation for victims to be fixed in accordance with those due to survivors and bereaved relatives affected by the Madrid train bombing in March 2004.
MAPFRE has used the traffic accident tables and added on 20 per cent, taking the rail disaster in Chinchilla, Castilla-La Mancha in 2003 as a precedent, along with the Yakovlev 42 plane crash in Turkey that year.
A petition has been started on the campaign site www.change.org calling for victims of flight JK5022 to be paid the full damages.
It has so far acquired 170,000 signatures.
Family members only are being considered by MAPFRE, but among those claiming for damages is an individual who was in a live-in relationship for 10 years with one of the deceased.
The couple in question were not married and had not registered as ’civil partners’, meaning that, as there is no blood relation, the bereaved party’s claim was declined.
But the couple had a mortgage in common for the construction of a house, which the claimant considers sufficient to prove they lived a ’married’ life.
Another survivor, engineer Rafael Vidal, says he has undergone 15 surgical operations since the Spanair craft blew up and that he has had to pay for many of these himself as MAPFRE would not pay up.
So far, relatives of 70 of the 154 passengers and crew who lost their lives and 11 of the 18 survivors have received compensation to the tune of 20 million euros, far short of the 300 million they initially claimed for.

Worst air tragedy in 25 years

Spanair flight JK5022 was taking off for Las Palmas de Gran Canaria from Madrid with 163 passengers on board of whom two were babies and 20 were children, plus nine crew.
A second attempt at take-off when an ’incident’ was detected in the first led to disaster when, just as the wheels had come off the ground, it veered off the runway, hitting the ground and causing one of the engines too catch fire.
The craft was completely burnt out and all bar 18 people – which did not include any of the crew – were killed outright.
Spanair, which was already experiencing financial troubles, went out of business within a relatively short time after the accident.
The exact cause of the crash has never been completely clarified.

Reuters, 20.05.2014, ThinkSpain


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