Attorney Matthew R. Arnold answering the question: “Can I wait a few months to pursue a personal injury claim?”
A recent airline accident at the Bangkok International Airport led to a bizarre cover-up attempt that ended up creating worse media attention than the accident itself. The incident involved a Thai Airways jet that skidded off the runway last week seconds after landing. The accident was thankfully not too severe, with less than 20 people out of the 288 on board suffering injuries.
According to news reports, once the airline had successfully evacuated passengers from the plane, the company almost immediately went to work trying to hide their connection with the crashed jet. Within hours of the crash, maintenance men wielding black paint brushes were spotted painting over the plane’s prominent purple and gold logo. In no time, all the identifying marks on the plane had been covered-up. Thai Airways believed that this attempt at “de-identification” would help avoid thousands of damaging photos being circulated with the company’s logo being associated with a crashed plane.
Unfortunately for Thai Airways, they forgot that this is the era of Instagram. In the current time of instant communication, pictures of the plane before, during and after the cover-up were beamed around the world, subjecting the company to even more negative attention than the relatively minor accident. Passengers began Tweeting images of paint crews and noted how botched the attempt to hide the plane was from a public relations standpoint.
The problem became even worse when a Thai Airways spokesperson came out in defense of the cover-up and said that the actions were only taken in accordance with crisis communication rules of the Star Alliance network it is a part of. Thai Airways said that all Star Alliance members (including United and US Airways) are required to de-identify any airplanes involved in an accident. Almost immediately after making the claim a Star Alliance spokesperson flatly rejected it as untrue, clarifying that no such guidelines exist.
Though the practice may seem unusual, it is not totally unheard of. Eastern Airlines is reported to have done the same thing after a crash in the late 1980s, an Algerian airliner did it in 2006 and China Airlines covered-up its logo after a 1997 crash. However, PR experts say that a big difference between those cases and this one is that now instant communication makes it difficult if not impossible to truly hide from such glaring mistakes. After all, the first images of the recent Asiana Airlines crash were posted on Twitter in under 20 seconds. Companies are simply unable to cover-up accidents as fast as individuals can broadcast events and, as a result, such blatant cover-ups often succeed only in further embarrassing an already bruised company. Experts say in the case of a mistake it’s better to face the music rather than engage in a laughable attempt to avoid taking responsibility.
If you, or someone you know, have any questions regarding personal injury claims, please feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys and lawyers in Charlotte, North Carolina at Arnold & Smith, PLLC for a free consultation. Call at 704-370-2828.
About the Author:
Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member with Arnold & Smith, PLLC where he focuses his practice on Personal Injury, Family Law and Business Litigation. Mr. Arnold began his career handling insurance defense litigation for several major insurance companies. He also went on to handle business litigation cases and high value mortgage fraud cases, primarily in Superior Court.
Mr. Arnold grew up in Charlotte, graduating from Providence Senior High School and continued his education at Belmont Abbey College on a basketball scholarship. After graduating cum laude he attended law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship. In his spare time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time on the North Carolina Coast with his wife and three young children: two daughters and one son.
“A crash course in PR: Rule No1 – don’t hide,” published at BangkokPost.com.
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