Families of victims from Germanwings Flight 9525 may face a long journey in settling their claims against the airline and its insurers. To avoid being re-victimized, families need qualified representation. 

Never doubt that Germanwings and its insurers want to quickly resolve the claims of each of the families of those who died so horribly in the mass murder/suicide at the hands of its pilot, Andreas Lubitz. Also, never doubt that it is gearing up its army of claims adjusters and lawyers who specialize professionally in negotiating these claims for the purpose of paying as little to each family as they can get away with. That is their job—and they are good at it.

Of course, no one trains anyone to know how to react when they find themselves the victim of such mind numbing tragedies. We all live our lives secure in the knowledge that horrendous villainy that rips a loved one from our midst suddenly and outrageously is something that only happens to others: “it will never happen to me.” But—then it does. And that is the reason why families are best served when they retain the services of attorneys who have experience and expertise to match, or exceed, that of the airlines and insurance companies.

For the victims, the loss is of such a magnitude that it seems incomprehensible to try to translate the loss into money terms. To most citizens, it is obvious: the loss is the most supreme that can be sustained, and the compensation for the loss should be measured in human terms. So, to the uninitiated and naive family members acting alone, they are likely to say to the claims adjusters and their lawyers that they sustained a gigantic loss. To which the routine reply of the professionals will be: “oh yeah, prove it!”

Now, for the first time, it hits home: notwithstanding the nice words, even condolences and promises to settle claims quickly, those insurance and legal professionals are actually your adversary. Minimum payment, not justice, is on their minds.

And so starts the awful odyssey of victims being subjected to the most minute examinations of their lives and loves, their hopes and dreams, their income and expenses—in other words, all the details that make up life and the way it is lived. Many feel as though they are victimized twice: Once by the tragic event, and then by the process through which they seek justice.

The best defense against the second victimization is to have highly experienced lawyers, whose sole devotion is advocating on behalf of the families to even the playing field. Attorneys who have represented hundreds of families who have lost loved ones in tragic aviation crashes. Ones who understand the complex issues and will fight for all the justice that the family deserves.

And so, sure, Germanwings/Lufthansa would very much like to settle all claims as quickly as possible and get this unthinkably horrendous episode behind them,along with all of its attendant bad publicity—just so long as you agree to their version of what is fair without much push-back. But, if history is any guide: for those who insist on a full cup of justice for themselves and their loved ones, the process might not be so quick after all.