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Published on Thursday, July 11, 2019

Lawyers claim families of 737 crash victims were 'cheated' out of compensation

Investigators for BBC Panorama have been told relatives of the victims in last year's Lion Air Boeing 737 Max crash were cheated out of compensation.

Lawyers told the programme that many families were talked into signing papers preventing them from taking legal action against Boeing in US courts.

Within weeks of the Indonesia crash, in which all 189 passengers and crew were killed, relatives were offered compensation by insurance lawyers.

To access the money, families were told they had to sign agreements that would prevent them from taking future legal action against Boeing or the airline.

Around 50 families are believed to have signed and will receive compensation of just under £74,000 each. Under Indonesian law the families are automatically entitled to £71,000 compensation.

Sanjiv Singh, an American lawyer representing some of the families, told the BBC relatives were potentially entitled to millions of dollars in compensation.

The BBC said Boeing declined to comment specifically on the agreements but issued a general statement which said: "Boeing truly regrets the loss of life and will continue to work with communities, customers and the aviation industry to help with the healing process.

"The insurers for Boeing are in discussions with other insurers around the world, as is typical and customary in circumstances such as these."

The BBC said the lead insurer for both the airline and Boeing is UK-based firm Global Aerospace, which disputed the allegations but declined to comment on the specifics due to client confidentiality.

It said it is common for aviation insurers to insure more than one party that is involved in some way in an accident.

It told the BBC: "Global Aerospace, in accordance with industry best practice, strictly divides responsibility for the handling of different clients to ensure that they are each represented separately and that no inappropriate sharing of information takes place in the handling of any claims that may occur."

It said it was standard practice when settling claims to release the airline and plane manufacturers from future claims.

Earlier this month, Boeing said it would give $100 million to help the communities affected by the Lion Air crash and the second 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia in April, which killed 157 people.

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