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Part 2 Crisis Navigation: Finding Your Way through Difficult Times

Mark Alexander, a partner and trial attorney with Stewart, Melvin & Frost, has developed expertise in Crisis Navigation. It’s a special role that he plays in helping families navigate through difficult times resulting from a serious personal injury or wrongful death.

Using his two decades of experience, 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: Can you briefly explain again what you mean by Crisis Navigation?

Mark: In my work as a trial attorney, I work with clients who suddenly find themselves caught up in a tragic and life-altering event. These are tragedies that take place when someone has done something wrong to you or a loved one that has resulted in a serious injury or even death.

I refer to myself as a Crisis Navigator, because it is a much better description of the role that I play with my clients. I help guide them through the legal maze of issues such as insurance and get their lives back on the road to recovery both physically and financially.

Question: What are the four key points that people should follow when faced with a personal or family tragedy?

•Put Your Health and Family First.

•Designate a Legal Representative as soon as possible.

•Prepare and Assemble Key Records and Documentation.

•Be Careful What You Say and Do.

Question: Why do you advise people to put health and family first in the aftermath of a tragedy?

Mark: It may seem obvious, but the reason I make this point is because I have witnessed the opposite reaction in so many cases.

In the wake of a horrific accident, clients call me in a state of anxiety and fear about the future. They often are more worried about their financial health than their physical recovery.

They worry about who is going to pay for their medical bills. They are concerned about whether the “bad guy” who caused the accident has insurance and whether he or she is going to pay for their surgery in addition to future physical rehab and therapy.

My advice always is to focus on recovery. Trust your doctors and the medical professionals. Don’t let your worries about legal and insurance questions distract you from getting better physically and emotionally.

Question: The second point of advice in your Crisis Navigation Guide is to “Designate a Legal Representative.” At what point should this appointment be made, and what role does an attorney play?

Mark: My advice is to appoint an attorney as soon as possible. This may sound like I am contradicting myself in regard to putting your health first. However, appointing an attorney as soon as the dust settles a little bit can actually help you better focus on the road to recovery.

Your attorney can relieve you of all the pressures and concerns of pressing administrative matters such as phone calls and paperwork related to insurance matters and medical bills. It’s peace of mind that everything is being taken care of.

Your attorney can also begin working with the insurance companies – yours and the other party’s – to seek financial assistance and reimbursement.

I have seen instances where an injured person or family waited several months after an accident before getting an attorney involved. By then, it can be very difficult to collect evidence, contact witnesses, or reconstruct an accident scene. I’ve even seen instances in some cases such as a car accident where the crashed vehicle has been towed away and disposed of, destroying the evidence in a potential legal case.

Remember that getting a personal injury attorney involved early on doesn’t mean you are planning to sue somebody. However, the sooner that you get an attorney working for you, the better job that he or she will do in gathering information to assess your situation and provide you with the best advice on your options. The overall goal is to recover from the crisis and restore your life as best as possible.

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