The National Transportation Safety Board has received several complaints of attorneys soliciting victims of the deadly Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash last month, an agency spokeswoman said today.
The victims are allowed to seek legal representation, but federal law prohibits lawyers from contacting those involved in aviation disasters for a 45-day period, said Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for the NTSB, which is investigating the crash.
The July 6 crash left three teenage girls dead and about 180 injured when the Boeing 777 came in too low and crashed upon landing at San Francisco International Airport.
"It's not uncommon that we see attorneys who want to sign up new clients" at a time when victims are vulnerable, Nantel said.
She said aviation accidents in particular attract legal representatives, and that the federal law "creates a buffer" for the survivors of such incidents.
The NTSB only has the power to report attorney violations but it is up to local authorities to investigate the complaints, Nantel said.
The agency has referred one complaint about the Chicago-based law firm Ribbeck Law Chartered to Illinois authorities, Nantel said.
In that case, Nantel said, the firm had set up a website to solicit crash victims as clients.
Other individual attorneys solicited victims in person at the airport just after the crash, Nantel said. The NTSB notified San Francisco police, who have the jurisdiction to follow up on those reports, she said.
"We are committed to protecting victims and their families," Nantel said.