MH370: Family members can now move on, says lawyer

MH370: Family members can now move on, says lawyer
Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) Director-General Azharuddin Abdul Rahman gives a statement in Putrajaya January 29, 2015, in this still image from a RTM video. Malaysia declared on Thursday the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 an accident, clearing the way for the airline to pay compensation to victims' relatives while the search for the plane goes on.

KUALA LUMPUR - Now that the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has been declared an accident, family members can sort out the insurance claims and apply for death certificates even without conclusive proof of death, a law expert said.

Jeremy Joseph, a lawyer who deals in aviation matters, said classifying the tragedy as an accident would allow family members to finally find legal closure.

"According to our laws, if there is no conclusive proof of death, families may have to wait up to seven years before applying to the courts for a death certificate," he said.

He said declaring it an accident would help the next of kin sort out a compensation and insurance claims.

"A similar declaration was done in Thailand when groups of people disappeared without a trace after the 2004 tsunami. Many people went missing and no bodies were found, so the authorities had to declare them as presumed lost," he said.

Universiti Kuala Lumpur-Ma­laysian Institute of Aviation Tech­nology principal specialist Ahmad Maulan Bardai said classifying the MH370 tragedy an accident meant that the legal status of the aircraft, passengers and crew was finally made clear.

"Generally, all modern jetliners are designed to be found if they crash and this announcement will allow the families to finally move on," he said.

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