Law prohibits lawyers from immediate contact with crash victims families

HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU Attorney General Greg Stumbo cautioned attorneys today against contacting family members of the 49 people killed in the crash of Flight 5191 Sunday in Lexington.

Stumbo, citing the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act of 1996, warned the legal community that grieving family members are protected from any unsolicited communication for 45 days after their loss. “It’s not just the right and moral thing to do — it’s the law,� Stumbo said in a statement. “No attorney, or any representative or employee of an attorney, should intrude upon this very private and personal time of mourning.�

The federal law limits contact by lawyers and imposes a $1,000 a day fine for violations. Even after the 45-day federal waiting period, Stumbo said, Kentucky court rules forbid direct contact where the lawyer has no prior direct relationship with the prospective client. These rules do not apply to contact initiated by victims’ families.

The Attorney General’s Office is contacting Kentucky Bar Association representatives to ensure compliance with the law. Stumbo also has put a link to the Federal Family Assistance Plan for Aviation Disasters on his Web site, “This gives the public ready access to the National Transportation Safety Board’s resources contained on its Web site,� Stumbo added.

The attorney general’s Web site also has a direct link to the NTSB’s Information for Friends and Family, which contains readily accessible information regarding family assistance.

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