A mass disaster is an unexpected event of sizeable magnitude that causes an extensive number of injuries and deaths, and could likely include widespread property damage. Examples include commercial airline crashes, train derailments, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, hotel fires, explosions, and toxic spills. In the event of a mass disaster, the legal rights of the victims and others affected must be protected.
After the Disaster
After a tragic event, many do not know where to turn for assistance. Besides crisis hotlines, there are various people and organizations, that can help in the aftermath of a mass disaster, including:
- Government (federal, state, and local) law enforcement agencies
- Representatives of individuals or companies involved in the event
- Insurance company representatives
- News media personnel
Because victims are especially vulnerable during times of a mass disaster, it is important that they be wary of certain individuals that might seek to take advantage of the situation.
Mass disaster victims should carefully choose the statements they make in the disaster's aftermath, as such statements can later be used in court, e.g., statements of fault, or recitation of facts of the occurrence. Furthermore, victims should also be careful when signing any documents immediately following the event.
Compensation is usually awarded to victims for damages suffered unless the individual was responsible for the disaster. Victims should keep in mind that insurance companies usually create special claims offices following a disaster, and a claim should be filed as soon as possible through homeowners insurance if applicable.
Lastly, important decisions, on the part of the victim, should not be made until the victim is completely informed of his or her legal rights and can reason rationally.
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