Can I collect only actual damages in a negligence suit against an airline or is there a consumer protection law that allows more

Asked about 2 years ago - Paterson, NJ

I was flying on an airline that destroyed my suitcase’s contents, valued at $300. The airline has not reimbursed me, due to incompetency and disorganization rather than a formal policy or actual decision. I want to sue them, to alert them that they can’t just push people around like this, and cause them to have to answer to a complaint so they learn a lesson. Is there any legal theory that would entitle me to more than the $300 actual damages? For example, is there a consumer protection law that requires the airline to pay the government a fine if I can prove that they are evading their legal obligations to compensate for damages sustained? Is there a law that lets me collect more than damages in a negligence suit?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Matthew R Schutz

    Contributor Level 16

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    Answered . I would disagree with counsel. Air travel and any damages arrising there from is controled by a tariff the airline has on file with the Federal Government. The tariff controls the terms and condtions of transportation, including damages in the the event something goes wrong. Tariffs typically limit the liability of the carrier. There are also treaties which affects international air travel

  2. Erik Anderson

    Pro

    Contributor Level 12

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    Answered . There are specific federal laws (and where applicable international treaties) that limited the liability of airlines with regard to damage of property. Back in the day the ticket made actual reference to the applicable law. If you go the website of the airline you flew and do a search for lability with regard to suitcase damage they will likely provide the cite to the federal regulation at issue. Otherwise, I quick google search will point you in the right direction.

    Best of luck.

    DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that this post is not intended to constitute legal advice and is for informational... more
  3. Herbert J Tan

    Contributor Level 17

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    Answered . New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act. However, you have to show an intentional act on the part of the airline to deceive or take advantage of the consumer. Their mishandling of your baggage is negligence at best.

    Herbert Tan, Esq.
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    Website: www.tanlaws.com

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