I am anxious to hear from anyone with first hand knowledge of this phenomenon. There are a number of victims’ rights groups set up that contact the victims and families of victims immediately (within days) of a major catastrophe, such as Flight 5191, offering “help”. Some of these groups are likely legitimate and concerned. Others have a less benign purpose in mind.
Those non-benevolent groups receive considerable funding from large plaintiff attorney firms and were most likely caused to be created by those firms. The firms call this funding “charitable donations” but is actually an unethical form of fee sharing. The groups “help” to the victim or family is to refer them to their sponsor firm for representation and tell them they need to protect their rights quickly. Often, the firm is in a different state. Often these firms expect fees of 40 to 45% (excessive in my opinion) of any recovery before expenses are taken out. They then contract with a local attorney in the state of the catastrophe and give them a slice of that fee (why not cut out the middle man?).
So, if you are contacted by a victims’ rights group and they quickly refer you to an attorney or firm, please ask them some questions. Ask if the firm they are referring you too is out of state, and if so, are they aware of a good in state attorney. Ask them if the firm they are referring you to regularly donates to their group and how much. Beware if they cannot or will not answer either of those queries.