The Montreal Convention, the successor international treaty to the Warsaw Convention, governs damages claims from injury on international carrier flights.
Passengers who suffer severe emotional distress from an aircraft disaster cannot claim damages consisting of emotional injury alone – the psychological injury must “flow through” a physical injury.
Ironically, relatives or the estate of a passenger killed while traveling on an international carrier flight can sue for the emotional suffering that the decedent presumably suffered prior to death, even if the suffering lasted only for mere seconds.
This peculiarity of Montreal Convention that governs all international carrier flights is well explained in an article by Steven R. Pounian who is a partner at Kreindler & Kreindler and Megan Wolfe Benett who is an associate at the firm – see http://www.kreindler.com/Publications/Recovery-for-Psychic-Injuries-Under-Warsaw-Montreal-Conventions.shtml
Consequently, only those passengers on the Asiana Airline flight that crashed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6, 2013 who also have physical injuries will be eligible to sue for emotional damages, should they choose.