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Will all families of those killed in the Germanwings plane crash receive the same compensation?

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – We know it was the co-pilot who was likely responsible for the loss of Germanwings flight 9525, which crashed last week in the French Alps. But what does that mean when it comes to compensation for victims’ families?

Nobody is suggesting that one loss of life is less tragic than another.

“What they’ve essentially lost is the care and companionships of their loved ones, of their family members. And so there would be either a statutory right of action or what we might call a common-law right of action for the loss of that care and companionship,” says commercial litigator Geoffrey Shaw with Cassels Brock Lawyers, in Toronto.

But he tells us when it comes to financial compensation, it’s not an all-for-one.

“There would be an element of that in terms of the lost income that a particular provider in a family might create or something like that. That would be an individualistic kind of thing,” says Shaw.

That means the family of a doctor or other high-earner could expect more than the families of other victims.

He also says it’s likely the airline will want to avoid lengthy litigation to spare any further damage to its reputation.

“[Assuming negligence] for not pre-judging that a co-pilot could, in fact, overtake the plane essentially. They may want to fight that issue as the insurer, or they may just want to get that resolved as soon as possible so there’s minimal damage to the goodwill of the name of that airline.”

Shaw points out there likely is no financial limit.

“The amounts at stake could be significant. I don’t believe there would be limits, nothing exclusionary in the ticket, for instance, that a passenger bought that would say that if this happens, you’re only limited to ‘X’ if terms of recovery. Even if there was such a clause, it probably would be struck down.”

Germanwings flight 9525 had 150 people on-board; nobody survived.