Aviation Law

Can You Sue an Airline for Lost Luggage?

Airlines must pay you when they lose your luggage. However, airlines do not always offer a fair price for losing your baggage or ruining your vacation. Some airlines might deny your claim because of a technical error or if they are suspicious of your claim. You can sue an airline for lost luggage.

This page has general information about losing your luggage but your situation may be unique. If you want to file a claim against the airline for lost luggage and have questions, talk to an aviation law attorney in your area.

Federal Lost Luggage Laws

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), in 2021, more than 5% of baggage was reported as mishandled. However, most flyers are surprised to find out that there are very few federal laws protecting consumers dealing with the airline company. The U.S. Department of Transportation published an air consumer Fly Rights guide but it puts the burden on consumers instead of the giant airline companies.

According to the DOT, “once an airline determines that your bag is lost, the airline is responsible for compensating you for your bags’ contents – subject to depreciation and maximum liability limits.”

The airline may require you to provide receipts or proof of any valuable items that were in the checked luggage. Airlines also have to refund you any baggage fees paid to the airline for a checked bag.

If the airline fails to resolve your compensation claim, you can file a complaint with the DOT online. The airline is required to respond to the complaint in writing within 60 days.

International Flights and Lost Baggage

International flyers may have better protections for lost bags than domestic flights. The Montreal Convention and Warsaw Convention may apply to international flight luggage claims. Under the Montreal Convention’s Special Drawing Rights, the maximum baggage liability of 1288 SDR is approximately $1,720, adjusted for inflation.

The international treaties also cover delayed baggage and damaged luggage. If you needed to buy toiletries and other items because of delayed luggage, you have to submit a written complaint within 21 days, detailing your baggage claim and copies of receipts. If your baggage is not found within 21 days, it is considered lost and the airline has to compensate you for the value of lost property, up to the maximum coverage.

TSA Damage or Stealing Property From Baggage

The airlines are generally not liable for any loss, damage, or delayed bags as a result of a security search by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) or other government agencies. If you believe your property was lost or stolen as a result of the security check, you should file a claim with the TSA. Support your claim with as much detail as possible, including receipts, appraisals, and flight information.

How Can You File a Lawsuit Against the Airlines?

Airlines want to do what they can to stay out of court, which may include limiting your claims through the fine print when buying a plane ticket. Most flyers don’t know what’s included in the terms and conditions of their ticket for air travel, and airlines may try and exclude a lot of claims in their contract of carriage. For example, many airlines provide that they are not liable for loss or damage to fragile, precious, or perishable items in carry-ons and checked baggage.

In most cases, the airline will require you to file a property irregularity report (PIR) for lost property. The airline will generally offer a settlement amount. An attorney may be able to help you get a higher settlement offer for loss or damage to valuable items. If you want to file a lawsuit against an airline, you can contact an aviation law attorney for help to make sure you file the claim in the right court.

Can I Sue for Lost Luggage in Small Claim Court

If you can’t come to an agreement with the airline, you may be able to sue for lost or damaged baggage in your local small claims court without hiring a lawyer. However, each state has a maximum amount that you can seek to recover in small claims court. For example, in Florida, the maximum amount in dispute in small claims court is $8,000 but in Texas, the maximum is $20,000. In states like New York, the maximum amount can vary by county.

Can You Get Money for Lost Baggage From Your Credit Card Company?

If you bought your plane ticket with your credit card, your credit card may offer coverage for lost luggage or flight cancellations. If you have renters insurance or homeowners insurance, it may also cover lost luggage after you meet your deductible.

Should I Buy Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance should cover lost baggage and losses caused by baggage delays. Depending on the type of coverage, it may refund bag fees and the cost of essential items you had to purchase while waiting for the delayed bags. However, be sure to read the terms and conditions of the insurance policy because the insurance may exclude certain items from coverage. If you are traveling with valuable items like jewelry, cameras, or electronics, make sure the insurance plan covers these items.

How Can an Aviation Lawyer Help?

Most lost luggage claims are settled with the airlines. However, if the airline is refusing to pay for lost luggage that is covered by aviation lawan aviation attorney can help. An attorney can deal with the airline directly to help you recover compensation for lost property. If you are injured in an airplane accident, an aviation attorney can file a personal injury lawsuit.

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