MSBA Disaster Plan
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Legal Guide for Victims of Mass Disasters- This information is a public service provided by the Maryland State Bar Association and the American Red Cross.

After a Disaster Takes Place

A disaster might happen anytime and anywhere - in airports, on freeways and railways, even in your own home. If you are hurt or if your property is damaged in the disaster, some people you can expect to see include:

  • fire, rescue, medical and other emergency workers;
  • police and other law enforcement people from federal, state, or local government;
  • your insurance company agent;
  • people representing others involved in the disaster;
  • newspaper and television reporters;
  • non-profit agencies such as the American Red Cross; and
  • lawyers - both lawyers who routinely represent victims of accidents and lawyers who defend the parties involved in a mass disaster.

Many of these people perform important services and many of them offer useful information and advice. A few simple guidelines can help you decide who to talk to and what to say.

Remember that in selecting any professional help, including a lawyer or health care professional, the choice is yours. Honest, capable professionals will be mindful of your physical and emotional needs at such times. They will never try to take unfair advantage of your distress in order to make money or to get information or agreements that might work against you.

An honest, capable professional will recognize that you need time after a tragedy before you can think clearly. Honest, capable professionals do not try to solicit business from you nor ask you to sign agreements without giving you enough time to explore your options or to receive advice from your family or friends.

Talk to law enforcement officers. Remember, too, that your insurance policy may require you to notify your insurance company when an accident occurs. Without foregoing any of your legal options, you should answer any questions they may have. Otherwise, give information only to people you seek out for advice, counsel or representation. Avoid anyone else who tries to extract money, promises or information from you. Do not sign any papers before you have sufficient time to think or obtain good advice.

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