Victim Assistance Managing Expectations

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1 Victim Assistance Managing Expectations Jurgen Whyte Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport Chief Inspector Leeson Lane Air Accident Investigation Unit Dublin 2

2 One of the most challenging aspects of the air accident investigation process is the interaction with the victims of aviation accidents and their relatives. (ESASI Amsterdam 2012)

3 Context: Assistance to the victims of air accidents and their relatives. specific to the investigative process. Air Accident Investigation bodies, as a matter of course, have provided such assistance throughout the investigative process and beyond. The aviation industry has, in the past, failed to meet the needs of some victims and their relatives following accidents. It is only in recent years that the requirement of such assistance has become a legal obligation. As an investigator, I consider that it is right that victims and their relatives are kept informed of the investigative process, the progress of the investigation and the outcome of an investigation once this does not compromise the objectives of the investigation. n. C change towards legal intervention litigious society.

4 Legislation and Guidance USA The Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act Requires the NTSB to coordinate the disaster response resources of Federal, State, Local and Volunteer agencies. 2. The Office of Transportation Disaster Assistance (TDA) provides information to family members following the accident. ICAO Circular 285 AN/166 (2001) Guidance on Assistance to Aircraft Accident Victims and their Families.

5 EU Legislation Regulation (EU) No. 996/2010 on the investigation and prevention of accidents and incidents in civil aviation. Recital (32): Assistance to the victims of air accidents and their relatives should be adequately specified. Article 1 Subject Matter:.it also aims to improve the assistance to the victims of air accidents and their relatives. Article 21 Assistance to the victims of air accidents and their relatives: 1. Aviation Emergency Planning 2. Airline Emergency Plans 3. Reference Person as Point of Contact

6 Regulation (EU) 996/2010 (Supportive) Legislation Article 15 Communication of Information: 1. Authorisation as to what can be released and made public to victims and their relatives. Article 20 Information on Persons and Dangerous Goods on Board: 1. Airlines: Validated list of persons on board. 2. Airlines: List of dangerous goods on board.

7 So who are the Victims of aviation accidents? And who are the Relatives?

8 Victims: Not defined by EU Regulation An occupant of the aircraft, or any person outside the aircraft, who is unintentionally involved in the aircraft accident. (ICAO) Victims may include: Flight Crew Cabin Crew Others Interested Parties Revenue passengers Non revenue passengers And third parties Innocent Victims In the provision of assistance there is a need to differentiate between the interested party victim and the innocent victim

9 Relative Self Self or Relative

10 Relatives..more complex: Defined by EU Regulation: Relatives means the immediate family and/or next of of kin and/or other person closely connected with the victim of an accident, as defined under the national law of the victim. Recent experience: Immediate family/next of of kin were parents of deceased Pilot. Partner of deceased Pilot took control as executor of will. Parents withdrew from process. Partner appointed legal firm for representation. Sought over a protracted period to influence the outcome of Final Report. In Ireland if a victim/relative appoints a legal representative, that entity becomes the victims/relatives point of contact for the investigation.

11 The challenge To provide assistance and information to a wide and complex range of individuals. Different nationalities, with different languages, cultures, traditions and religions. Some having suffered life changing experiences as a result of being involved in the accident, or having suffered serious injury or the t loss of a loved one. Different emotions, stages of grief and needs: Anger Guilt Hurt Pain Blame Revenge Compensation Closure Some who will only accept what they want to believe themselves. Some who will not stop until they get what THEY want. The limited resources available. Without compromising the objectives of the investigation itself.

12 Some NEVER go away

13 AAIU Process for Victims and Relatives Small Scale Events General aviation type events with low number of fatalities. The IIC as reference person (RP) is the point of contact for all concerned. The Investigation differentiates between the needs of the states, interested parties and the innocent victims/relatives. On going contact between IIC and all parties concerned during and after the investigation. States and specific Interested parties are given access to draft report for comment. Any material intended for public release is made available to parties concerned prior to publication.

14 AAIU Process for Victims and Relatives Large Scale Events Public transport, accident with significant numbers of fatalities s and injuries or high profile. RP separate from the Investigation is appointed as point of contact for innocent victims/relatives. No direct contact between the Investigation itself and the innocent ent victims/relatives and/or their legal representatives. RP liaises closely with the Investigation itself and the Police Family Liaison Officer receives regular updates details on investigative process and timelines. Investigation has direct contact with specific interested parties s such as the flight crew and/or their relatives. Any material intended for public release is made available to parties rties concerned prior to publication.

15 SA 227 BC Metro III, EC ITP, Cork Airport, Ireland 10 February 2011

16

17 Legal Firm Representation Made reference to new situation with respect to Article 1 of the Regulation.also aims to improve the assistance to the victims of air accidents and their relatives. We will be exercising the rights that victims and families are entitled to Identified that Article 21(3) and Article 15(4): provides for the appointment of a reference person for the victims and families and for the safety investigation authority in charge to inform victims and their relatives or their associations of the following: (a) Factual Observations (b) Proceedings of the safety investigation (c) Preliminary Reports (d) Preliminary Conclusions (e) Safety Recommendations

18 Legal Firm Representation Advised that they were representing passengers. Sought name and contact details of Reference Person Point of Contact. Sought to meet with the Investigation to discuss the accident and convey their concerns. Prior to release of Preliminary Report.

19 AAIU Initial Assistance/Information provided Letter sent by RP to families identifying Reference Person/Point of Contact and explained investigation process and associated reporting schedule. Returned personal effects through Police Liaison Officer. No further information or communication made until release of Preliminary Report. Preliminary Report Released within 30 days. All families received copy one day prior to publication. Agreed to meeting between RP and Legal Firm following release of Preliminary Report. Interim statement released just before 1 st Anniversary.

20 For consideration Victims and their relatives have an entitlement to justice defend one s s reputation and seek compensation. to Legal process seeks to apportion blame and liability. Investigation process is precluded from apportioning blame or liability. Legal process may seek to influence Investigation to benefit themselves and their clients. Direct contact between legal representatives and Investigation may m be a conflict of interest and could compromise the objectives and independence of the Investigation. If associated legislation is not clear and concise, conflicts may y arise resulting in increased workload to explain or defend position. Prolongs the Investigation timelines.

21 Our experience Investigation has to differentiate between the needs of the victims/relative, be they interested parties or innocent victims. Victims/relatives need to be informed of the Investigation process and made aware of timelines associated with the Investigation. Victims/relatives should be given access to Preliminary/Interim/Final Report prior to formal publication. Victims/relatives should not have access to Draft Report or Safety Recommendations prior to formal release, unless a particular individual ividual or entity has been adversely commented on. In major accidents, victims/relatives should not have direct access to the IIC or persons directly associated with the Investigation.

22 Just a final thought. The increased legal interest in the accident investigation process may be linked to the fact that the legal entity considers that the outcome o of the Final published Report can: Assist in any future legal proceedings taken by or against their client. or Be a negative influence in any future legal proceedings taken by by or against their client. If the safety investigation authorities Final published Report was w deemed inadmissible in Civil Court by legislation WOULD THEY STILL HAVE THE SAME INTEREST??

23 Thank You

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