If you are the victim of a natural disaster, you will be wondering what to do next. From having your home severely damaged, losing valuable financial information, dealing with injuries you sustained, and much more, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Unfortunately, these events bring out the worst in some individuals. To come through a natural disaster without being victimized, here are some important legal details to keep in mind.
Be Aware of Your Rights
Even if your home is damaged or you have suffered injuries, bills will still arrive. Because of this, know your legal rights pertaining to medical treatment, home repairs, and rent or mortgage payments. Since insurance policies vary from company to company and laws from state-to-state, always be clear as to your legal rights in these situations. For example, if you feel you received poor treatment for your injuries, contact a medical malpractice law firm to gain clarification.
Gather Contact Information
Since a natural disaster will impact you in numerous ways, find out which agencies to contact for assistance. In most cases, the Federal Emergency Management Assistance Office, better known as FEMA, is the agency to contact. To do so, visit www.fema.gov/ or call 1-800-621-3362.
Don’t be Conned by Scam Artists
At all-natural disaster scenes, scam artists hope to prey on desperate victims. To make sure your bad situation is not made much worse, remember some key details. First, never pay upfront money without having a contract to review. Second, ask any contractor for proof of licensing and insurance, as well as references. Finally, don’t give in to pressure tactics aimed at having you make uninformed decisions.
In these situations, identity theft is a real possibility. To guard against this, have a fraud alert placed on your credit report. By doing so, creditors will be aware of your situation, making it easier for them to spot excessive charges or new accounts in your name. To do so, contact one of the three major credit bureaus, such as Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion.
Hire a Reputable Contractor
To get your home repaired, you’ll need the assistance of various contractors. For best results, hire those who are very reputable. To avoid disputes in these situations, always have an attorney review any contracts before work is started. Also, ensure all costs are itemized and made it very clear to you before work begins. And as always, get proof of licensing and insurance, and contact references given to you by the contractor.
Prepare for Insurance Disputes
Even if you have read your insurance policies and believe you are doing everything correctly, chances are various disputes may arise along the way. Since you will be dealing with medical, home, and auto insurance companies, the process of filing claims and gaining reimbursements will likely take some time. Therefore, to ensure you can handle any disputes, keep some details in mind. For example, always document any phone calls, emails, text messages, and standard mail you receive from companies. Also, respond quickly to all correspondence, and consult with an attorney if necessary, to clarify aspects of policies that may be unclear or seem unfair to your situation.
By staying as positive and informed as possible throughout your ordeal, you will be able to navigate your way through the aftermath of a natural disaster.