Faced with a personal or family tragedy, what would you do? Where would you turn for help?
Over the past two decades, Mark Alexander, a partner and trial attorney with Stewart Melvin & Frost, has helped countless victims navigate treacherous waters in the aftermath of a crisis. Based upon his experience on the front lines of difficult situations involving serious injury or death, Mark has developed a crisis tool kit, called a Crisis Navigation Guide that provides important personal and legal steps to take in the aftermath of a crisis.
Question: What you mean by Crisis Navigation and why it is so important to be prepared for the unthinkable?
Mark: People typically don’t enjoy calling a lawyer. But it’s even worse for me because of the type of work that I do with clients who are undergoing a personal tragedy.
When I hear from a new client, it usually involves a family member who has been in a horrible accident resulting in a serious injury or death. The person is often in shock, confused, and extremely worried about the future.
For many of these victims, it may be their first brush with a tragedy. They are at their lowest point and simply don’t know what to do.
In reflecting over my many years of working with clients in crisis, I have found that there are some basic key steps that I will recommend to each of these victims. These steps help them get through their initial shock and prepare them for what to expect on the long road to recovery.
In order to help more people faced with personal crisis, I have compiled these perspectives into a Crisis Navigation Guide. It outlines a series of steps to guard against overlooking important personal, legal and financial priorities.
Question: Are you talking about steps to prepare for legal action against the party that caused the accident or death?
Mark: Not really. Unfortunately, there is a perception that people only call an attorney when they want to sue somebody. However, the majority of people who call me in the aftermath of a crisis are simply looking for help to get their lives somewhat back to normal again.
These victims and their family members are typically confused and overwhelmed with all the decisions that lie ahead. These are issues that they have never faced before such as questions about medical bills, health insurance or auto insurance claims.
Once they are over the initial shock of the tragedy, reality sets in and the victims begin to worry not only about physical recovery but financial recovery as well. They fear the financial repercussions. They are especially afraid of taking a misstep that will potentially cause problems later on that could lead to financial ruin.
Question: What are some of the financial and legal issues that victims face in the aftermath of a crisis?
Mark: Perhaps the biggest issue is insurance. With all due respect to our local insurance agents, it’s the claims departments at the corporate headquarters of the big insurance companies that cause some of the most anxiety and difficulties.
You buy insurance for your health, your life, your home or auto to provide peace of mind. But it’s a great irony that while insurance is there to protect you, it often takes an adversarial position when you file a claim.
Unfortunately, the victim is usually at their weakest and most vulnerable during a crisis, so it’s very easy to slip up when preparing and filing your insurance claim. That’s where you need a trusted legal advisor to help you navigate these challenging, unchartered waters.
Question: And that is what you mean by Crisis Navigation?
Mark: Yes. I have put together this Crisis Navigation Guide that I hope will provide a public service to my clients and this community. When crisis does strike, you can pull it out for reference and a checklist to make sure you are on track with all you need to be doing.
There are basically four points to my Crisis Navigation Guide.
1.Upon the onset of a crisis, remember to Put Your Health and Family First. That is most important.
2.As soon as it’s practical, get help. Designate a Legal Representative. This is your personal Crisis Navigator.
3.Gather Records and Documentation, such as insurance policies, notes and photos.
4.Be Careful What You Say and Do. By this I mean Facebook postings, E-mail strings, blogs and discussions with the insurance company representing the party involved in the injury or death related to your crisis.