The majority of practicing attorneys in the modern day have specific areas of practice, some obviously more familiar than others. If you are ever involved in a legal matter that is related to an airplane, the aerospace industry, or commercial air travel, you may actually need an aviation attorney. These legal professionals focus their expertise on helping clients with aviation-related problems. While there are a number of well-established aviation attorneys, it can always be helpful if you know how to find the best for your specific situation. Here are three important questions to as during your first consultation.
What is the attorney's background in aviation law?
The general aviation attorney handles cases relative to laws, regulations, and other facets of aviation. However, when you delve into the specifics of this field, you will find that there are a number of specialties an attorney may focus on specifically. A few examples would be an aviation attorney that focuses on:
- Injuries that take place on an aircraft
- Aircraft accidents
- Safety violations by air traffic controllers
- Commercial airline maintenance issues
- Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) violations
In addition, some attorneys specifically work with government agencies, commercial clients, or specific entities. Aviation attorneys are more than forthcoming about their areas of focus and experience, and it is really helpful if you know what type of professional you are working with.
Will the attorney be handling your case on their own or indirectly?
It is not at all uncommon for an aviation attorney to indirectly handle cases. This basically means they are your legal representation when you go to court, but other people on their team will handle the details between your initial meeting and the time when you go to trial. For example, your main point of contact may be an in-office paralegal or another attorney. While cases handled in this fashion can be just as successful, it is helpful to know what you should expect as you move forward with your case.
Has the attorney had prior piloting experience?
This may sound like an odd question to ask, but it is actually a pertinent one. Numerous aviation lawyers have pilot experience; some may even have commercial airline licenses. Aviation laws can be complex, especially since general people don't often understand the terminologies associated with aviation. Having an attorney with a deeper understanding of aircraft, how they function, and the laws surrounding aviation can be advantageous to your case.