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A legal expert has cautioned passengers against hastily accepting compensation offers from LATAM Airlines following a distressing incident where a flight experienced a sudden descent mid-air, resulting in injuries to passengers.

After an unexpected drop during a LATAM Airlines journey, passengers have been offered compensation exceeding $7500. However, a legal firm is advising these individuals not to hastily agree to any terms without legal guidance.

The incident occurred on March 11, during LATAM Airlines flight LA800’s route from Sydney to Santiago via Auckland, which faced a sudden altitude drop about an hour before its scheduled landing, impacting approximately 50 individuals on board.

Following the event, a group of passengers, including nationals from Brazil, France, Australia, Chile, and New Zealand, along with three flight attendants, required hospitalization. Although one passenger and one crew member needed extra care, their conditions were not deemed critical.

Three weeks post-incident, reports emerged that the airline proposed ex gratia payments ranging from US$1500 to US$5000. Peter Carter of Carter Capner Law, representing some of the affected passengers, advised against accepting these offers if they come with stipulations or without prior legal consultation, as it might restrict their rights to future claims or limit their interactions with the media.

Carter stressed the importance of understanding the full implications of accepting preliminary payments, as they could affect future compensation rights, especially if further investigation identifies airline fault.

He also highlighted the potential for broader claims, including against Boeing or other involved parties, to address not only physical but also psychological and emotional damages.

Currently, investigations by New Zealand’s Transport Accident Investigation Commission and Chile’s General Directorate of Civil Aeronautics are ongoing to ascertain the cause and accountability of the incident.

Passenger Brian Jokat shared a harrowing account with RNZ, describing how he witnessed a fellow passenger being thrown against the cabin roof during the flight’s abrupt drop, likening the experience to a scene from a horror movie.

Jokat also recounted a conversation with the pilot post-incident, who attributed the event to a temporary loss of instrumentation, expressing regret over the passengers’ distress.

LATAM Airlines has been approached for comments on the matter.