Boeing crash payouts may be based on how long passengers knew they'd die

Boeing's payouts to the families of people killed in two recent crashes will reportedly be partially calculated by how long passengers knew they were going to die.

The aviation company is believed to have known about faults with its 737 MAX 8 engines that are thought to have caused the fatal Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes that killed 346 people.

How long each of those victims was aware they were plunging to their death will influence the amount of money their family receives, reports Bloomberg.

"There's a better chance of (financial) recovery if it took minutes rather than seconds for the plane to crash,'' Joe Power, a lawyer representing some of the crash victims, told Bloomberg.

Boeing is estimated to be liable for at least US$1 billion over the disasters.

The airline manufacturer's knowledge of the safety problems with its 737 MAX aircraft before the crashes will be central to the legal action it's facing.

"The bottom line is Boeing's exposure is much more substantial than in any other case that I've been a part of in my quarter-century of representing families in plane-crash cases," Brian Alexander, another lawyer representing some of the crash victims, told Bloomberg.

"You get into 'What did you know and when did you know it.'"

Thirty individual lawsuits have now been filed against Boeing on behalf of families, with many more expected.