After a tragedy such as the crash of Flight 3407, victim’s families just want to be left alone. Our Federal law reflects this privacy. It is illegal for any attorney to contact a family member directly after a commercial airline crash. United States Code Title 49 Section 1136 "Assistance to Families of Passengers Involved in Aircraft Accidents," prohibits attorneys from contacting victims’ families for forty-five days after the crash. This rule also prevents attorneys from hiring others to make contact on their behalf. Family members are grieving, they have a right to be left alone.
Friends of the family members of victims of Flight 3407 may be wondering how they can help those who are grieving. A primary way to help is to simply make them aware that they have a right to privacy. Another way to help is to connect family members to counseling. One counseling resource for family members of airplane accidents is ACCESS. This stands for AirCraft Casualty Emotional Support Services. ACCESS is an air disaster bereavement support network specifically for those who have lost loved ones in plane crashes. It is a non-political, non-profit, tax-exempt (501c3) organization established in San Francisco in 1996. The organization connects families with grief mentors who have experienced similar losses.
Families may be confused about whether they should talk to or provide statements to the airlines’ insurance company. The insurance company’s job, after a loss such as a crash, is to limit their exposure. They want to reduce the amount of money that they will be required to pay out. Any information provided by the families to the insurance company will be used to reduce the value of their claims. If the insurance company does not respect a family’s desire to be left alone, that family should contact the New York Insurance Commissioner and file a complaint.