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Pinnacle bankruptcy could throw a wrench in wrongful death suits

Large-scale accidents like plane crashes can be devastating. They can cause serious injuries and even death. Additionally, they can place heavy financial burdens on those who are left to pick up the pieces of a catastrophic accident.

But when another party is at fault for the injury or wrongful death, monetary compensation for damages incurred during the accident may be attainable. However, as one New York father is learning firsthand, when the at-fault party is having financial problems, the likelihood of victims actually receiving the damages due to them is placed in jeopardy.

The bankruptcy protection that Pinnacle Airlines sought recently is not a secret. It is less known, though, that the families seeking compensation from a 2009 airline crash involving a Pinnacle Airlines Corporation plane may not be fully compensated even if they prevail in their lawsuits against the airline.

As a representative of all the victims of this circumstance, one man has been appointed to sit on a committee of creditors of Pinnacle Airlines as it seeks approval for a financial restructuring from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York City. This appointment makes it more likely that the families’ interests will be involved, though it is unclear if it will actually result in families receiving part or all of any funds potentially due them in pending lawsuits.

The claims against Pinnacle Airlines provide conflicting issues in relation to Pinnacle’s bankruptcy. Pinnacle may not be able to afford to fully meet the compensation claims from the victims and their families from the 2009 New York crash; however, many of these families may need these compensation payments to stay financially stable after the expenses serious injury or wrongful death may have brought.

While it is said to be unusual for parties to a wrongful death lawsuit to be appointed to a bankruptcy committee of creditors, by doing so the federal judge overseeing the bankruptcy proceedings has ensured that their claims will remain a point of discussion and consideration throughout the process.

Source: Buffalo News, “Father of Flight 3407 victim given legal status in Pinnacle bankruptcy,” Jerry Zremski, April 13, 2012