Malaysia Airlines could be liable in crash

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Malaysia Airlines could be liable in crash
A relative of an Australian victim of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 touches a memorial that was unveiled outside Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Friday, July 17, 2015. Tearful relatives of several Australians who were flying on the Malaysian jetliner that was shot down over eastern Ukraine a year ago gathered for a memorial service Friday that included the unveiling of a plaque set in soil from the place where they died.(AP Photo/David Gray, Pool)
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott stands in silence after he laid a wreath for the Australian victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at a ceremony unveiling a memorial outside Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Friday, July 17, 2015. Tearful relatives of several Australians who were flying on the Malaysian jetliner that was shot down over eastern Ukraine a year ago gathered for a memorial service Friday that included the unveiling of a plaque set in soil from the place where they died. (David Gray/Pool Photo via AP)
A relative of the Australian victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 reacts during a service for the unveiling of a memorial outside Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Friday, July 17, 2015. Tearful relatives of several Australians who were flying on the Malaysian jetliner that was shot down over eastern Ukraine a year ago gathered for a memorial service Friday that included the unveiling of a plaque set in soil from the place where they died.(AP Photo/David Gray, Pool)
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - JULY 17: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop places a wattle sprig at a wreath during a National Memorial Service to honour the people that died as a result of the downing of Flight MH17 at Parliament House on July 17, 2015 in Canberra, Australia. 298 people died when Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was struck down by a missile over Ukraine on 17 July, 2014. (Photo by Lukas Coch - Pool/Getty Images)
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - JULY 17: Family members grieve during a memorial service honouring victims of flight MH17 on July 17, 2015 in Canberra, Australia. 298 people died when Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was struck down by a missile over Ukraine on 17 July, 2014. (Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images)
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - JULY 17: Family members grieve during a memorial service honouring victims of flight MH17 on July 17, 2015 in Canberra, Australia. 298 people died when Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was struck down by a missile over Ukraine on 17 July, 2014. (Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images)
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - JULY 17: The Australian flag flies at half mast at Parliament House honouring victims of flight MH17 on July 17, 2015 in Canberra, Australia. 298 people died when Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was struck down by a missile over Ukraine on 17 July, 2014. (Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images)
A Malaysia Airlines crew member places a flower next to candles forming the letters MH17 after a multi-faith prayers for the victims of the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 at Malaysia Airlines Academy in Kelana Jaya, near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, July 25, 2014. A small group of Dutch and Australian investigators walked the sprawling, unsecured site where Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 went down as their governments prepared police detachments they hope can help protect the crash area and help bring the last of the victims home. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
A woman places a candle backdropped by pictures of victims of the MH17 air crash during a memorial concert in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Thursday, July 24, 2014. Two military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster departed for the Netherlands on July 24, while Australian and Dutch diplomats joined to promote a plan for a U.N. team to secure the crash scene which has been controlled by pro-Russian rebels. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Mourners console each other during a national memorial service for the victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, Autralia Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. All 298 people, including 38 Australian citizens and residents, on board flight MH17 were killed when the plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine last month. (AP Photo/Mark Dadswell, Pool)
PUTRAJAYA, MALAYSIA - AUGUST 18: Malaysians commemorate the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH370 and MH17 in an official campaign calling all Malaysians to sway Malaysian national flags, also known as Jalur Gemilang, during Independence Day commemoration celebrations in Putrajaya, Malaysia on August 18, 2014. This campaign is to instill humanity and patriotism for Malaysia. (Photo by Farid Tajuddin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
PUTRAJAYA, MALAYSIA - AUGUST 18: Malaysians commemorate the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH370 and MH17 in an official campaign calling all Malaysians to sway Malaysian national flags, also known as Jalur Gemilang, during Independence Day commemoration celebrations in Putrajaya, Malaysia on August 18, 2014. This campaign is to instill humanity and patriotism for Malaysia. (Photo by Farid Tajuddin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
HILVERSUM, NETHERLANDS - AUGUST 17: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) People attend a silent procession to commemorate the victims of the MH17 on August 17, 2014 in Hilversum, Netherlands. Some 1,500 people attend the memorial service. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
HILVERSUM, NETHERLANDS - AUGUST 17: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) People attend a silent procession to commemorate the victims of the MH17 on August 17, 2014 in Hilversum, Netherlands. Some 1,500 people attend the memorial service. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
People place flowers under near photographs of victims during a memorial service in the Sint-Vitus church in Hilversum on August 17, 2014, to commemorate the 15 people from Hilversum who died in the crash of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in the east of Ukraine on July 17, 2014. The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 exploded over insurgent-held east Ukraine on July 17, killing all 298 on board, 193 of them Dutch, with the West accusing Russia-backed separatists of shooting it down and Moscow blaming Kiev. AFP PHOTO / ANP / SANDER KONING **NETHERLANDS OUT** (Photo credit should read Sander KONING/AFP/Getty Images)
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - AUGUST 17: The Newcastle flag is half mast in honour of the two men (John Alder and Liam Sweeney) who lost their lives on Flight MH17 last month during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Manchester City at St.James' Park on August 17, 2014, in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks to bystanders during a visit to the Korporaal Van Oudheusden barracks in Hilversum, The Netherlands, on August 11, 2014, the location where the victims of flight MH17 are being identified. Abbott is visiting the Netherlands to discuss the progress of the investigation of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. The Netherlands lost 193 citizens, while Australia lost 38 citizens and residents, when the Malaysia Airlines plane from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, killing all 298 on board. The West accuses pro-Russian separatists of shooting down the plane. AFP PHOTO / ANP / ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN netherlands out (Photo credit should read ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
An Ukrainian government army military vehicle travels across a damaged bridge near the village of Debaltseve, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, July 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Ukrainian troops move near the village of Debaltseve, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, July 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
People walk across a damaged bridge near the village of Debaltseve, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, July 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
An Ukrainian government army's soldier gestures at a check-point in the village of Debaltseve, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine Thursday, July 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Ukrainian tanks stand guard near a field on July 31, 2014 in the village of Debaltseve, in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine. Dutch and Australian experts accompanied by a team of international monitors reached today the crash site of downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 after days of fierce fighting that had stopped them reaching the area, had prevented them to determine the reason why the Boeing 777 crashed on July 17 with 298 people on board, and recover unaccounted for remains. AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
An Ukrainian government army' vehicle travels across a damaged bridge near the village of Debaltseve, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, July 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Ukrainian soldiers stand guard near their humvee and military truck on July 31, 2014 at a check-point in the village of Debaltseve, in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine. Dutch and Australian experts accompanied by a team of international monitors reached today the crash site of downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 after days of fierce fighting that had stopped them reaching the area, had prevented them to determine the reason why the Boeing 777 crashed on July 17 with 298 people on board, and recover unaccounted for remains. AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
People walk across an exploded bridge near the village of Debaltseve, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, July 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Ukrainian government army's soldiers stand guard next to the cars of Convoy of the OSCE mission in Ukraine at a check-point in the village of Debaltseve, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine Thursday, July 31, 2014. Members of the OSCE mission in Ukraine are attempting to reach a place of Malaysia Airlines plane crash. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Train operators wait inside one of the railway wagon which according to employees and local residents contains bodies of passengers of the Malaysia Airlines plane which crashed in eastern Ukraine three days ago, at a railway station on July 20, 2014 in the town of Torez. The missile system used to shoot down a Malaysian airliner was handed to pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine by Moscow, the top US diplomat said Sunday. AFP PHOTO/ BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
TOREZ, UKRAINE - JULY 20: A refrigerated train car holding the bodies of passengers from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 waits at the train station for transport to an unknown location on July 20, 2014 in Torez, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
TOREZ, UKRAINE - JULY 20: A refrigerated train car holding the bodies of passengers from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 waits at the train station for transport to an unknown location on July 20, 2014 in Torez, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
TOREZ, UKRAINE - JULY 20: Refrigerated train cars holding the bodies of passengers from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 wait at the train station for transport to an unknown location on July 20, 2014 in Torez, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
TOREZ, UKRAINE - JULY 20: Refrigerated train cars holding the bodies of passengers from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 wait at the train station for transport to an unknown location on July 20, 2014 in Torez, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
TOREZ, UKRAINE - JULY 20: Refrigerated train cars holding the bodies of passengers from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 wait at the train station for transport to an unknown location on July 20, 2014 in Torez, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
A man holds a baby as he walks next to a refrigerated train loaded with the bodies of victims, in Torez, eastern Ukraine, 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Sunday, July 20, 2014. Armed rebels forced emergency workers to hand over all 196 bodies recovered from the Malaysia Airlines crash site and had them loaded Sunday onto refrigerated train cars bound for a rebel-held city, Ukrainian officials and monitors said.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
A woman looks at a refrigerated train loaded with the bodies of victims, in Torez, eastern Ukraine, 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Sunday, July 20, 2014. Armed rebels forced emergency workers to hand over all 196 bodies recovered from the Malaysia Airlines crash site and had them loaded Sunday onto refrigerated train cars bound for a rebel-held city, Ukrainian officials and monitors said. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Armed pro-Russian rebels secure the area next to a refrigerated train loaded with the bodies of victims, in Torez, eastern Ukraine, 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Sunday, July 20, 2014. Armed rebels forced emergency workers to hand over all 196 bodies recovered from the Malaysia Airlines crash site and had them loaded Sunday onto refrigerated train cars bound for a rebel-held city, Ukrainian officials and monitors said.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
An armed pro-Russian rebel secures the area next to a refrigerated train loaded with the bodies of victims, in Torez, eastern Ukraine, 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Sunday, July 20, 2014. Armed rebels forced emergency workers to hand over all 196 bodies recovered from the Malaysia Airlines crash site and had them loaded Sunday onto refrigerated train cars bound for a rebel-held city, Ukrainian officials and monitors said.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
An armed pro-Russian rebel secures the area next to a refrigerated train loaded with the bodies of victims, in Torez, eastern Ukraine, 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Sunday, July 20, 2014. Armed rebels forced emergency workers to hand over all 196 bodies recovered from the Malaysia Airlines crash site and had them loaded Sunday onto refrigerated train cars bound for a rebel-held city, Ukrainian officials and monitors said.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
A woman covers her nose as she walks by a refrigerated train loaded with the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash, 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the crash site, in Torez, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, July 20, 2014. Armed rebels forced emergency workers to hand over all 196 bodies recovered from the Malaysia Airlines crash site and had them loaded Sunday onto refrigerated train cars bound for a rebel-held city, Ukrainian officials and monitors said. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
A pro-Russian fighter guards the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines jet near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, July 19, 2014. Ukraine accused Russia on Saturday of helping separatist rebels destroy evidence at the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines plane shot down in rebel-held territory — a charge the rebels denied. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) delegation members, background, work at the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines jet near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, July 19, 2014. World leaders demanded Friday that pro-Russia rebels who control the eastern Ukraine crash site of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 give immediate, unfettered access to independent investigators to determine who shot down the plane. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
People arrange candles to offer prayers for the victims of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, at a shopping mall in Petaling Jaya, near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, July 18, 2014. The Malaysia Airlines jetliner was carrying 298 people when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday in eastern Ukraine, sending shockwaves around the world from Malaysia to the Netherlands. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 18: A temporary memorial for the 298 victims of shot down Malaysian jetliner Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur the previous evening is seen outside of the embassy of the Netherlands, on July 18, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
Ukrainian coal miners search the site of a crashed Malaysia Airlines passenger plane near the village of Rozsypne, Ukraine, eastern Ukraine Friday, July 18, 2014. Rescue workers, policemen and even off-duty coal miners were combing a sprawling area in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border where the Malaysian plane ended up in burning pieces Thursday, killing all 298 aboard. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
A woman walks at the site of a crashed Malaysia Airlines passenger plane near the village of Rozsypne, eastern Ukraine Friday, July 18, 2014. Rescue workers, policemen and even off-duty coal miners were combing a sprawling area in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border where the Malaysian plane ended up in burning pieces Thursday, killing all 298 aboard. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
A woman walks past a body covered with a plastic sheet near the site of a crashed Malaysia Airlines passenger plane near the village of Rozsypne, Ukraine, eastern Ukraine Friday, July 18, 2014. Rescue workers, policemen and even off-duty coal miners were combing a sprawling area in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border where the Malaysian plane ended up in burning pieces Thursday, killing all 298 aboard. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
A piece of a plane with the sign "Malaysia Airlines" lies in the grass as a group of Ukrainian coal miners search the site of a crashed Malaysian passenger plane near the village of Rozsypne, Ukraine, eastern Ukraine Friday, July 18, 2014. Rescue workers, policemen and even off-duty coal miners were combing a sprawling area in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border where the Malaysian plane ended up in burning pieces Thursday, killing all 298 aboard. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Pieces of wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 are pictured on July 18, 2014 in Shaktarsk, the day after it crashed. Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, which US officials believe was hit by a surface-to-air missile over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 18, 2014 shows belongings of passengers on the site of the crash of the Malaysia Airlines jet carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur a day after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on July 17 that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. All 298 people on board Flight MH17 died when the plane crashed. AFP PHOTO /DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A piece of wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is pictured on July 18, 2014 in Shaktarsk, the day after it crashed. Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, which US officials believe was hit by a surface-to-air missile over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A piece of wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is pictured on July 18, 2014 in Shaktarsk, the day after it crashed. Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, which US officials believe was hit by a surface-to-air missile over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A piece of wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is pictured on July 18, 2014 in Shaktarsk, the day after it crashed. Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, which US officials believe was hit by a surface-to-air missile over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A man wearing military fatigues stands next to the wreckages of the malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine, on July 17, 2014. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of passengers of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 get onto a bus at Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on July 17, 2014, headed for an unkown destination after they received additional information about the Malaysia Airlines plane traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that crashed near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. A Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed on July 17 in rebel-held east Ukraine, as Kiev said the jet was shot down in a 'terrorist' attack. Ukraine's government and pro-Russian insurgents traded blame for the disaster, with comments attributed to a rebel commander suggesting his men may have downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 by mistake, believing it was a Ukrainian army transport plane. AFP PHOTO / ANP / OLAF KRAAK --NETHERLANDS OUT-- (Photo credit should read OLAF KRAAK/AFP/Getty Images)
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (C) addresses a press conference at a hotel in Sepang, ouside Kuala Lumpur, on July 18, 2014, after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in eastern Ukraine. A Malaysian airliner carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed on July 17 in rebel-held east Ukraine, as Kiev said the jet was shot down in a 'terrorist' attack. Ukraine's government and pro-Russian insurgents traded blame for the disaster, with comments attributed to a rebel commander suggesting his men may have downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 by mistake, believing it was a Ukrainian army transport plane. AFP PHOTO / MOHD RASFAN (Photo credit should read MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A man walks amongst the debris at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Hrabove, Ukraine, Thursday, July 17, 2014. Ukraine said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday as it flew over the country, and both the government and the pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region denied any responsibility for downing the plane. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Relatives of people onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam react outside the family holding area at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on July 18, 2014. A Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed on July 17 in rebel-held east Ukraine, as Kiev said the jet was shot down in a 'terrorist' attack. Ukraine's government and pro-Russian insurgents traded blame for the disaster, with comments attributed to a rebel commander suggesting his men may have downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 by mistake, believing it was a Ukrainian army transport plane. AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
Electronic flight information board shows Malaysia Airlines flight MH 0017, after the plane crashed in eastern Ukraine at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, July 18, 2014. Malaysia Airlines said it lost contact with Flight 17 over Ukrainian airspace Thursday, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
In this image taken from amateur video, Thursday July 17, 2014, a fireball is seen shortly after a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday as it flew over Ukraine, and plumes of black smoke rose up from the scene near the rebel-held village of Grabovo, in eastern Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines has tweeted that it lost contact with one of its flights as it was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over Ukrainian airspace. (AP Photo / Amateur Video accessed by APTV)
A woman with a child walks past the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine, Thursday, July 17, 2014. Ukraine said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday as it flew over the country, and both the government and the pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region denied any responsibility for downing the plane. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
A woman reacts to news regarding a Malaysia Airlines plane that crashed in eastern Ukraine at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, July 18, 2014. Ukraine said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday as it flew over the country, and both the government and the pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region denied any responsibility for downing the plane. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)
People walk amongst the debris at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine, Thursday, July 17, 2014. Ukraine said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday as it flew over the country, and both the government and the pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region denied any responsibility for downing the plane. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
In this image taken from amateur video, Thursday July 17, 2014, Smoke rises from a fireball is seen in the distance shortly after a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday as it flew over Ukraine, and plumes of black smoke rose up from the scene near the rebel-held village of Grabovo, in eastern Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines has tweeted that it lost contact with one of its flights as it was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over Ukrainian airspace. (AP Photo / Amateur Video accessed by APTV)
A man gestures at a crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine, Thursday, July 17, 2014. Ukraine said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday as it flew over the country, and both the government and the pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region denied any responsibility for downing the plane. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
People walk amongst the debris, at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine, Thursday, July 17, 2014. A Ukrainian official said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday as it flew over the country and plumes of black smoke rose up near a rebel-held village in eastern Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines tweeted that it lost contact with one of its flights as it was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over Ukrainian airspace. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
People inspect the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine, Thursday, July 17, 2014. Ukraine said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday as it flew over the country, and both the government and the pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region denied any responsibility for downing the plane. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Map shows path of Malaysia Airlines MH17.
A picture taken on July 17, 2014 shows the wreckages of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. The head of Ukraine's air traffic control agency said Thursday that the crew of the Malaysia Airlines jet that crashed in the separatist east had reported no problems during flight. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A man wearing military fatigues points to the wreckage of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 17, 2014 shows the wreckages of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. The head of Ukraine's air traffic control agency said Thursday that the crew of the Malaysia Airlines jet that crashed in the separatist east had reported no problems during flight. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 17, 2014 shows flames amongst the wreckages of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. The head of Ukraine's air traffic control agency said Thursday that the crew of the Malaysia Airlines jet that crashed in the separatist east had reported no problems during flight. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
People stand, on July 17, 2014, amongst the wreckages of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. The head of Ukraine's air traffic control agency said Thursday that the crew of the Malaysia Airlines jet that crashed in the separatist east had reported no problems during flight. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 17, 2014 shows the wreckages of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. The head of Ukraine's air traffic control agency said Thursday that the crew of the Malaysia Airlines jet that crashed in the separatist east had reported no problems during flight. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
People wearing military fatigues, stand on a road, on July 17, 2014 at the site of the crash of a Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. The head of Ukraine's air traffic control agency said Thursday that the crew of the Malaysia Airlines jet that crashed in the separatist east had reported no problems during flight. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
People stand next to the wreckages of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine, on July 17, 2014. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. The head of Ukraine's air traffic control agency said Thursday that the crew of the Malaysia Airlines jet that crashed in the separatist east had reported no problems during flight. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke rises up at a crash site of a passenger plane, near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine, Thursday, July 17, 2014. A Ukrainian official said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday as it flew over the country and plumes of black smoke rose up near a rebel-held village in eastern Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines tweeted that it lost contact with one of its flights as it was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over Ukrainian airspace. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
A picture taken on July 17, 2014 shows the wreckages of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. The head of Ukraine's air traffic control agency said Thursday that the crew of the Malaysia Airlines jet that crashed in the separatist east had reported no problems during flight. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 17, 2014 shows wreckages of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 17, 2014 shows the wreckages of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. The head of Ukraine's air traffic control agency said Thursday that the crew of the Malaysia Airlines jet that crashed in the separatist east had reported no problems during flight. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 17, 2014 shows flames amongst the wreckages of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 17, 2014 shows flames amongst the wreckages of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
People stand next to the wreckages of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine, on July 17, 2014. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A man wearing military fatigues stands next to the wreckages of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine, on July 17, 2014. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A man wearing military fatigues stands next to the wreckages of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine, on July 17, 2014. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 17, 2014 shows wreckages of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 17, 2014 shows wreckages of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
Passengers wait in line at the departure hall at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, in Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, July 18, 2014. Malaysia Airlines said it lost contact with Flight MH17 over Ukrainian airspace Thursday. It was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Airport security personnel look at the flight information board in the departure hall, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, in Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, July 18, 2014. Malaysia Airlines said it lost contact with Flight MH17 over Ukrainian airspace Thursday. It was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Airport police stand guard at the arrival hall at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, in Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, July 18, 2014. Malaysia Airlines said it lost contact with Flight MH17 over Ukrainian airspace Thursday. It was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
A picture taken on July 17, 2014 shows a Malaysia Airlines closed counter at the Schiphol airport near Amsterdam after a Malaysian airliner crashed in rebel-held eastern Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines said on July 17 it had 'lost contact' with one of its passenger planes whose last known position was over eastern Ukraine, amid speculation it had been shot down. The plane went missing with 239 passengers and crew on board and is now believed to have diverted off its flight path and crashed in the remote Indian Ocean. (OLAF KRAAK/AFP/Getty Images)
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (C) addresses a press conference at a hotel in Sepang, ouside Kuala Lumpur, on July 18, 2014, after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in eastern Ukraine. A Malaysian airliner carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed on July 17 in rebel-held east Ukraine, as Kiev said the jet was shot down in a 'terrorist' attack. Ukraine's government and pro-Russian insurgents traded blame for the disaster, with comments attributed to a rebel commander suggesting his men may have downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 by mistake, believing it was a Ukrainian army transport plane. AFP PHOTO / MOHD RASFAN (Photo credit should read MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of people onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam react outside the family holding area at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on July 18, 2014. A Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed on July 17 in rebel-held east Ukraine, as Kiev said the jet was shot down in a 'terrorist' attack. Ukraine's government and pro-Russian insurgents traded blame for the disaster, with comments attributed to a rebel commander suggesting his men may have downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 by mistake, believing it was a Ukrainian army transport plane. AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
A firefighter sprays water to extinguish a fire, on July 17, 2014 shows flames amongst the wreckages of the malaysian airliner carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. There were 298 people, including 154 Dutch nationals, on board the Malaysia Airlines flight that crashed in strife-torn eastern Ukraine on Thursday, an official from the carrier said. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
People stand on July 17, 2014, amongst the wreckages of the malaysian airliner carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Ukrainian authorities on Thursday declared the east of the country a no-fly zone after the plane crashed in the volatile region, European flight safety body Eurocontrol said. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko pointedly called the disaster a 'terrorist act', and major airlines quickly announced plans to route planes away from the area. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY (Photo credit should read Alexander KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images)
A man walks amongst the debris at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Hrabove, Ukraine, Thursday, July 17, 2014. Ukraine said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday as it flew over the country, and both the government and the pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region denied any responsibility for downing the plane. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Electronic flight information board shows Malaysia Airlines flight MH 0017, after the plane crashed in eastern Ukraine at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, July 18, 2014. Malaysia Airlines said it lost contact with Flight 17 over Ukrainian airspace Thursday, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Ukraine supporters hold national colors and a placard showing support for the families of the downed Malaysian Airlines flight, during a protest infront of the White House on July 17, 2014 in Washington, DC. The Malaysian Airlines passenger jet carrying nearly 300 passengers crashed in eastern Ukraine. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of passengers of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 get onto a bus at Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on July 17, 2014, headed for an unkown destination after they received additional information about the Malaysia Airlines plane traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that crashed near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. A Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed on July 17 in rebel-held east Ukraine, as Kiev said the jet was shot down in a 'terrorist' attack. Ukraine's government and pro-Russian insurgents traded blame for the disaster, with comments attributed to a rebel commander suggesting his men may have downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 by mistake, believing it was a Ukrainian army transport plane. AFP PHOTO / ANP / OLAF KRAAK --NETHERLANDS OUT-- (Photo credit should read OLAF KRAAK/AFP/Getty Images)
A closed desk of Malaysian airlines is seen at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, Thursday, July 17, 2014. Ukraine said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday as it flew over the country, and both the government and the pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region denied any responsibility for downing the plane. (AP Photo/Phil Nijhuis)
A plane carrying coffins with the remains of victims of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 sits on the tarmac at Schiphol International Airport in Amsterdam before flying to Malaysia on August 21, 2014. Malaysia will drape itself in black for a national day of mourning on August 22 as it welcomes home the first remains of its 43 citizens killed in the MH17 disaster. The MH17 plane was shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine on July 17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, with the west blaming Russian-backed separatists, while Moscow blames Ukraine. AFP PHOTO / ANP / KOEN VAN WEEL == NETHERLANDS OUT == (Photo credit should read Koen van Weel/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on August 18, 2014 shows a Malaysia Airlines A380 passenger plane on the tarmac at the Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport, in Roissy-en-France. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture taken on August 18, 2014 shows a Malaysia Airlines A380 aircraft parked at the Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport, in Roissy-en-France, on August 18, 2014. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
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By DAVID KOENIG

Families of passengers who were on the Malaysia Airlines plane shot down over Ukraine are starting to sort through the long process of gaining compensation for their loss.

Officials in the Netherlands, where the majority of Flight 17 victims lived, say that Malaysia Airlines has been making $50,000 payments to the families without admitting any wrongdoing in the crash.

Such payments may create goodwill, lawyers say, but they are not likely to discourage some families from seeking more than the amount promised under an international treaty - about $174,000.

Since the early days of commercial aviation, international agreements have governed compensation for crash victims. It is a no-fault system - the airline pays a standard compensation even if is blameless. Under a treaty called the Montreal Convention, families can sue for more if the airline or another party was negligent.

Aviation-accident lawyers say it would be almost impossible to collect damages from Russia or the pro-Russian rebels accused of shooting down the plane with a far-reaching surface-to-air missile. Malaysia Airlines will be left as the prime - maybe the only - defendant, and lawsuits are likely to hinge on the plane's planned route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17.

Malaysian officials have said that the route over eastern Ukraine was deemed safe by international aviation authorities as long as the plane flew higher than 32,000 feet - below that, Ukraine had closed the airspace, presumably because of the threat posed by pro-Russia rebels armed with shoulder-held anti-aircraft guns, which have a limited range. While the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration had prohibited flights over the Crimean Peninsula, the U.S. ban did not extend to eastern Ukraine until after the shoot-down.

And, Malaysian officials have noted, other airlines continued to fly the same route, even on the day that Flight 17 was shot down.

But some aviation lawyers say that the families could have a strong case by arguing that Malaysia Airlines should have stopped flying over eastern Ukraine after the rebels shot down military jets earlier in July.

"The idea that somebody else was equally as stupid as they were is not that good of an argument," said Jonathan Reiter, a New York personal-injury lawyer who has handled many aviation cases.

Families of those on this year's major air crashes - Flight 17; Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing; the crash of TransAsia Airways Flight 222 in stormy weather in Taiwan; and the crash of Air Algerie Flight 5017 in Mali - could be waiting years for compensation from the airlines and their insurers.

Under the Montreal treaty, lawsuits can be filed in the home country of the victim, the country where the airline is based, where the ticket was bought or where the plane was headed. Americans and Europeans have often received higher awards than families in countries such as Malaysia, where the courts usually stick to the treaty limit, lawyers say.

"You could have two people sitting next to each other who may have the same income. (The family of) one gets multi millions, and the other one gets $75,000," said Justin Green, an aviation attorney whose firm represented families of victims of Pan Am 103, bombed over Scotland in 1988.

For some relatives of those on Flight 17, the pain is still too raw to decide whether to go to court.

In the Netherlands, Kevin Fan is grappling with the job of running two Rotterdam restaurants that were owned by his parents, who, along with his grandmother, died in the crash. Fan's father, who went by Popo, was the chef at Asian Glories; his mother, Jenny, was the hostess.

On a recent day, several bunches of fresh-cut flowers had been left as a memorial outside the small restaurant. The 30-year-old Fan, an acclaimed young chef, was finishing a meeting with two accountants to go over the restaurant's books. He was about to start his next shift in the kitchen.

"It is overwhelming. There is just a lot to arrange," he said, choosing his words carefully. "My family is really stepping in to help."

As for suing the airline, Fan said, "I'm not focused on that right now."

Harun Calehr, whose two nephews were on Flight 17, said that even an initial partial payment from Malaysia Airlines was emotionally taxing.

"My mother and my sister were thinking that it is blood money," said Calehr, who was born in the Netherlands and now practices law - including aviation law - in Houston. "I told them, 'This is not profiting from the boys' demise. This is your right.' The only accountability you can get from a company is financial compensation, and maybe an apology."

In the months since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared, Steve Wang, a Chinese citizen whose mother was on the plane, decided to seek more than the $174,000 limit. It is a form of leverage.

"What I need most is not the compensation," Wang said. "What I really need is (to know) what happened to the plane - where is it now? So we want to push them to search in a faster way."

After many crashes, lawsuits are filed against the airlines, the aircraft manufacturer, and the makers of aviation systems on the plane. In the Air Algerie case, Spain's Swiftair, which was operating the flight, could be a target.

Flight 17 is different - a civilian airliner shot out of the sky - but if families can't sue Russia or the rebels suspected of firing the missile, there is precedent for finding an airline liable after its plane was shot down.

In 1983, a Soviet fighter jet downed Korean Air Lines Flight 007, a Boeing 747 jumbo jet bound from New York to Seoul via Anchorage, Alaska. The KAL plane with 269 people on board had flown off course and into Soviet airspace. The Soviets never compensated any of the passengers' families. Years later, families in the U.S. won settlements and jury awards against Korean Air that ranged up to $10 million, The Associated Press reported at the time.

Governments can invoke sovereignty, but they have compensated families in rare cases. After an American warship shot down Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988, the U.S. agreed to pay $61.8 million to the families of victims.

Libya agreed to pay $2.7 billion in compensation for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in exchange for the lifting of U.S. and international trade sanctions imposed after the attack. Unlike Russia, the U.S. government had designated Libya a state sponsor of terrorism.

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Toby Sterling in Amsterdam and Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

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