The damage caused by fire can leave anyone in a state of shock and despair. A report presented by the National Fire Protection Association, states that a fire department in the United States responds to a fire accident every 23 seconds. Moreover, in the year 2015, the property damage due to fire mishaps alone amounted to a loss of $14.3 billion.
If you are a victim of a fire disaster, the ensuing financial chaos can ruin you mentally and emotionally. Regardless of whether the fire was caused by neglect, an electrical appliance, or arson, you feel emotionally distraught and are unsure about the further course of action. To add to this, the swelling medical bills, the damaged assets, and the shrinking savings can make you feel insecure about your future. Fortunately, in trying times like these, there are ways to make the best of the situation you are in.
Here are six important action points to be borne in mind after you experience a fire accident, so that you can minimize your losses in the aftermath of such a disaster.
- Prioritize Health and Safety
Consult your health physician for the injuries caused by burns and smoke inhalation. Check with the fire department whether your home is safe enough to enter. To be safe, avoid contact with any burnt surface. Watch out for damaged roofs and floors that could fall and cause injuries. In case the fire officers have disconnected utilities like water, gas, and/or electricity, avoid turning them on. If you have kids and/or pets, keep them away from the house and try to comfort their anxiety. Remember to inform the local police team that you will be away from your home for a long time till it gets repaired. This will protect your house against thefts.
- Contact Your Local Disaster Relief Group
Speak to a local disaster relief service that can help you with food, shelter, clothing, and the necessary aid while you are dealing with this stressful situation. Organizations like the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, several religious groups, public health departments, and non-profit crisis-management centers can help meet your basic requirements until you get your life back on track.
- Make a Detailed List of Your Losses
In an alarming situation like that of a fire, it is quite possible that you will lose track of the personal belongings and assets that have been damaged because of the fire. Take a stock of the situation and make a list of your damaged personal belongings, burnt cash, and other assets that got destroyed owing to the mishap. If you are too hassled to recall anything, take pictures of the accident site that you can refer to later. These can help you work with the insurance firm to claim your losses.
- Get in Touch With Your Insurance Company
Inform your insurance agent about the accident and discuss how you can restore your property. The insurance agent will ask you for the complete list of losses, the fire report (provided by the fire department), and the medical bills. Share the relevant documents and check with him/her on costs that will be covered by the firm.
- Hire an Attorney
Having an attorney by your side is important as they know how to manage a distressing situation like this. Firstly, the process of claiming your loss after a fire accident isn’t easy and may take a long time. Therefore, it is advisable to hire an insurance claim attorney who can help you through the process. Before processing your claim, the insurance firm sends its representative (a loss adjuster) who will study the accident site and calculate the amount of compensation you are entitled to receive. This person will try to benefit his own firm and hence may neglect a majority of the losses you have suffered. In such cases, an attorney can help by negotiating and resolving any possible disputes, so that you get the compensation you deserve.
Secondly, along with the heavy losses and reduced savings, there is a high probability that you may have creditors following up for the debts or loans you may have taken in the past. An attorney will advise you on how you can take control of the situation and will present you with the available options. In case you are pursuing the idea of filing bankruptcy, it would be wise to consult a skilled lawyer in your city before going ahead. For instance, if you live in Indianapolis, you can hire an experienced Indianapolis Bankruptcy Attorney who can help you understand the situation and guide you through this complex process. Bankruptcy follows a legal course and only an attorney can make this process smooth and less stressful.
- Contact a Fire Restoration Company
Fire restoration companies repair the existing damage, secure the house from further damage, clean up the property, and refurbish it. Before hiring a fire restoration company make sure you ask for the total cost estimate. Check with your insurance company on the costs that will be covered and save the expense receipts for your claiming process.
Fire accidents have devastating consequences and can completely destroy a household and its occupants. The painful episode can leave you and your family in a state of trauma. Though coming back to normalcy may seem like a distant dream, knowing what to do after experiencing a fire can enable you to minimize your loss. The above action points will prove useful as you deal with the aftershock of a fire accident.
Author Info: Sonja M. Shah works as a writer for Eskew Law, LLC. She is passionate, dedicated and devoted towards writing articles about criminal defense, personal injury law, and bankruptcy. She loves to help, learn and get inspired by those around her when she sees them reach their goals.