Aviation FAQ

Photo of Justin, Brian and Dan in front of a Cessna in a hangar.

Aviation FAQ

Has a family member been injured or killed in an Aviation Accident?

Q. Do you need a lawyer?

A. Yes. The matter that you are now dealing with may be one of the most important of your entire life in terms of the financial well-being of you and your family, and the questions presented are very complex. You need a good lawyer.

A photo headshot of partner Justin Green.
We fully understand and appreciate the awesome responsibility of representing victims of aviation disasters and are honored each time our clients put their trust in us.
~ Justin Green | Kreindler Partner and Attorney

Q. Should you speak to the airline’s insurance company directly?

A. No. The airline’s insurance company is a commercial institution whose job it is to make money, or in this case, to save money. As a layperson dealing with professionals, you may say or do things that will prejudice your position.

Kreindler & Kreindler is one the world’s most trusted and respected aviation accident and complex civil litigation law firms in the world.

Q. How do you get the right lawyer for your case?

A. If you have a family lawyer or business lawyer or otherwise know a lawyer in whom you have confidence, talk to the lawyer.

Ask the lawyer to advise you regarding your legal rights. The lawyer will likely be able to help you find the right experienced aviation law firm and in many cases will be able to participate in the litigation.

If you know others victimized by the same accident, or similar accidents, speak to them. Find out who they have retained and why they selected the law firm that they selected. Don’t feel you have to sign up with the first lawyer you talk to simply because the lawyer is nice. You have a lot at stake in this claim.

Q. Do you need an aviation lawyer, or will any lawyer do?

A. This is a question your personal lawyer can answer best. Some claims are simple and straightforward, and an aviation lawyer may not be necessary. On the other hand, for some claims, such as airline crash situations, aviation legal skills will be helpful to you, and typically, the total fee you pay won’t be any more.

Kreindler Partners and Former Military Pilots (L-R): Justin Green, Brian Alexander, and Dan Rose

Who knows more about aviation law than attorneys who are also licensed, commercial pilots?

Kreindler Partners and Former Military Pilots (L-R):
Justin Green (USMC)
Brian Alexander (U.S. Army)
Dan Rose (U.S. Navy)

We Know, We Fly - Kreindler Attorneys are also Pilots

Our staff of attorneys includes pilots, engineers, and a former aviation maintenance specialist. In each case, we assemble a team of litigators, investigators, outside experts, and staff to meticulously examine and prepare all aspects of our claim’s liability and damages to determine the cause of the accident, identify responsible entities, present the strongest case and obtain the highest possible compensatory award for the plaintiffs we represent. 

Q. What should you do if an unknown lawyer solicits your case or wants to talk to you? Should you talk to the lawyer?

A. Solicitation of accident cases, including aviation accident cases, sometimes called “ambulance chasing,” is frowned upon by most responsible lawyers, and most good lawyers don’t do it. You may, therefore, simply not want to talk to the soliciting lawyer. Furthermore, federal law in the United States forbids any unsolicited communications by lawyers to victims or victim families during the first forty-five days following an airline disaster.

On the other hand, if you feel that you are strong and careful and that you can take care of yourself, you might learn something and derive some benefit from talking to the soliciting lawyer. Tell the lawyer at the outset that you are going to talk to other lawyers before making a decision. Ask about the lawyer’s experience and what he or she knows about the accident, and what the legal strategy would be. Ask whether that lawyer has been appointed by a court to a leadership role in a plaintiff’s executive committee in any past litigation. Ask the lawyer if there are any special problems and if he or she thinks it’s a good case or a difficult case. Ask the lawyer what his/her fee would be and whether it will be based on the gross recovery or the net recovery (after expenses are deducted.) Ask the lawyer whether he or she will advance the necessary expenses, or if you have to pay them as they are incurred. Ask the soliciting lawyer whether he or she will actually work on your case or simply “sell” it to another law firm for a referral fee. Don’t be pressured into hiring the lawyer; remember that a lawyer who solicits cases is most often the last person you want to hire.

  • LEADING COUNSEL in nearly every major airline disaster case worldwide
  • OBTAINED THE LARGEST RECOVERY for a single disaster in the history of aviation
  • CONTINGENCY FEE-BASED You don't pay unless we win

Q. Is there a rush to do something? How much time do you have?

A. In most cases, you have at least a year from the date of the accident to take appropriate action in court, if it becomes necessary, so do not permit any lawyer to rush you into signing a retainer. There are circumstances, however, that may require quicker action, and speaking to an aviation lawyer as soon as possible after an aviation accident about deadlines (including statutes of limitations and notice of claim requirements) is advisable. Lawyers who rush victims are suspect. Their real interest may be in getting you to sign a retainer contract and even starting your case, with publicity, in the hope it will attract other clients to them. You should be suspicious of any lawyer who pressures you into signing a retainer.

On the other hand, there are often advantages to retaining a qualified lawyer sooner rather than later. Doing so will allow the lawyer to start the investigations, such as preserving evidence and speaking with eyewitnesses before their recollection is affected.

Q. If you sign a contract with a lawyer what should the fee be?

A. Most accident cases in the United States are handled on a contingent fee of 33 1/3 percent of the recovery. Sometimes the fee is based on the gross recovery, and sometimes it is based on the net recovery (the gross recovery less expenses.) Obviously, the latter is better for you.

There are economies in the handling of mass disasters, however, and they, plus competition, may bring the fees down. Fees in mass disaster airline crash cases are often 25 percent, and sometimes they are even lower. The fee you agree to should include the fee of your personal lawyer, the fee of the expert specialist, and the fee of any local counsel who becomes necessary. Your retainer contract should provide for that.

Don’t be bashful. Shop around for fees. When you decide on which lawyer you would like to handle your case, ask whether the lawyer will match any better fee you’ve been quoted. Most of the time lawyers will. Remember though that the fee is often less important to you than the quality of the lawyer and his or her ability to get you a sizable award. The best lawyer will usually get the best recovery for you, and it may be worth a few extra percentage points.

Q. Can you change your mind, after you have signed a retainer contract, and change lawyers: what, if anything, will it cost you? How do you do it?

A. You can always change your mind about who should represent you. Your new lawyer will address the discharged lawyer’s fee, and in virtually all cases, you will not pay additional attorney’s fees because you switched lawyers.

Thus, if you have been rushed into signing with the wrong lawyer, you can simply discharge the lawyer by a letter or email. Your new lawyer will help you do this.

Q. What is the most important thing to look for in an aviation lawyer?

A. There are actually two most important things:

  1. You need to have a highly competent lawyer, and
  2. You need to be able to trust that lawyer.
Aviation Accident Law Books

We wrote the book

Kreindler has literally written the book on aviation accident law. Our partners have authored numerous highly acclaimed books, articles and treatises, including the leading treatise in the aviation litigation field, Aviation Accident Law.

Look inside the book here

Call on Our Experience

Kreindler is one of the largest and most distinguished aviation accident law firms in the world. Since 1950, our attorneys have served as leading counsel in nearly every major commercial aviation disaster litigation. Our staff of attorneys includes pilots, engineers, and a former aviation maintenance specialist. The firm has successfully handled countless private, charter, military, general aviation, and accident cases. Our partners have authored numerous highly acclaimed books, articles, and treatises on aviation litigation.