Passengers who were on board a flight from Sydney to Auckland that plunged suddenly last month, injuring dozens, have reportedly been offered thousands in ex gratia payments by airline LATAM.

Peter Carter, director of Carter Capner Law, said he was aware of Chilean carrier LATAM offering some passengers on board the flight – which left passengers bloodied, hospitalised and reportedly “felt like an earthquake” – ex gratia payments of between US$1,500 and $US5000.

However, Carter – who is representing some of the affected passengers in action against the airline – urged others not to sign anything without legal advice and not to agree to any conditions when accepting the payment, noting that an ex gratia payment now could prejudice other rights they may have to compensation down the track.

Investigations into the cause of the incident have centred on cockpit seats, amid reports a flight attendant serving a meal hit a switch on the pilot’s seat, pushing the pilot into the controls. Several days after the 11 March flight, Boeing reportedly told airlines to check the cockpit seats of 787 Dreamliners for loose covers on switches. Boeing said that closing a spring-loaded seat back switch guard on to a loose rocker switch cap could “potentially jam the rocker switch, resulting in unintended seat movement”.