The last thing a victim needs just after an accident is for a crush of lawyers to show up on his doorstep, uninvited, pressuring him to sign up for a lawsuit. But that's what happens after just about every major air crash. That type of lawyer solicitation is distasteful, to say the least.
But thanks to a special law passed by Congress in 1996, it's also illegal. The law applies only to airline crashes and prohibits lawyers from contacting victims for the purposes of soliciting business for 45 days after the accident.
Unsolicited communications.— In the event of an accident involving an air carrier providing interstate or foreign air transportation and in the event of an accident involving a foreign air carrier that occurs within the United States, no unsolicited communication concerning a potential action for personal injury or wrongful death may be made by an attorney (including any associate, agent, employee, or other representative of an attorney) or any potential party to the litigation to an individual injured in the accident, or to a relative of an individual involved in the accident, before the 45th day following the date of the accident."
Every aviation lawyer knows the rule. But, unfortunately, not every aviation lawyer follows it. When lawyers cross the line, it's up to the NTSB to set them straight.
Immediately after the Asiana 214 crash, word circulated within the aviation bar that, as usual, some attorneys couldn't seem to restrain themselves and were doing whatever they could to get to the crash victims and get them to sign up for a lawsuit -- even if it meant violating the law. According to an AP article by Paul Elias and Ian Mader, one firm in question is Chicago-based Ribbeck Law Chartered, which made the news recently after it filed legal papers on behalf of 83 of the Chinese victims it claims to represent.
The National Transportation Safety Board says it has received an unspecified number of complaints. . . NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said. . . the NTSB reported one firm, Chicago-based Ribbeck Law Chartered, to the Illinois agency that regulates attorneys for further investigation of its on line communications and in-person meetings with passengers."
According to the article, Ribbeck Law is not the only firm that has shown up at the hotel where victims were staying. The question will be whether the firms were invited or if they simply showed up.
Related Post: Attorney Solicitation