Domestic carriage – liability for passenger injury or death

Governing laws

What laws in your state govern the liability of an air carrier for passenger injury or death occurring during domestic carriage?

Regulation (EC) No. 2027/97 extends the scope of the liability provisions of the Montreal Convention for passenger injury or death to domestic carriage by Community air carriers including Swiss air carriers. The Swiss Air Transport Ordinance governs those flights not covered by EU Regulation (EC) No. 2027/97. The ordinance mirrors the Montreal liability regime, except for jurisdiction. In particular, the ordinance does not provide for jurisdiction at the place of the passenger’s residence.

Nature of carrier liability

What is the nature of, and conditions, for an air carrier’s liability?

The liability of air carriers under the Air Transport Ordinance, as well as under Regulation (EC) No. 2027/97, is a liability for breach of contract. Liability of the carrier for passenger injury or death is premised upon there being an accident on board the aircraft or in the course of embarking or disembarking. The carrier is strictly liable for the first 113,100 special drawing rights (approximately €140,000). Above that amount, the carrier can defend itself against a claim by proving that it was not negligent or otherwise at fault.

Liability limits

Is there any limit of a carrier’s liability for personal injury or death?

There is no limit on recoverable damages for passenger injury or death under the Air Transport Ordinance or Regulation (EC) No. 2027/97.

Main defences

What are the main defences available to the air carrier?

The air carrier is not liable for damages exceeding for each passenger 113,100 special drawing rights if the carrier proves that:

  • such damage was not due to the negligence or other wrongful act or omission of the carrier or its servants or agents; or
  • such damage was solely due to the negligence or other wrongful act of a third party.
Damages

Is the air carrier’s liability for damages joint and several?

Depending on the circumstances, the air carrier may be jointly and severally liable together with a third party, such as the manufacturer of a defective product.

Rule for apportioning fault

What rule do the courts in your state apply to apportioning fault when the injury or death was caused in whole or in part by the person claiming compensation or the person from whom the right is derived?

Swiss courts may reduce the damages that can be awarded based on contributory negligence.

Statute of limitations

What is the time within which an action against an air carrier for injury or death must be filed?

Any action for damages for injury or death must be brought within two years from the date of arrival at the destination, or from the date the aircraft ought to have arrived or from the date that the transportation stopped.