September is National Preparedness Month

National Preparedness Month

Coronavirus, the California wildfires, a more-active-than-normal tropical storm season, and some other events have brought a whole new meaning to 2020’s National Preparedness Month.

Two-thirds of Americans have taken at least three of the six steps toward a complete disaster recovery plan (three days of supplies, talking to others, attending a meeting, obtaining official information, participating in a drill, and making an official plan).

Advanced planning is usually the key to surviving a disaster.

When the disaster hits, it is usually too late. While charities and the government may offer assistance, you need to be prepared for the immediate aftermath.

Residential and Commercial Disaster Preparedness Plans

It is not difficult to put together a disaster preparedness plan.

Most of these plans only have a few basic elements. And, when disaster strikes, plans make it much easier to recover.

A residential preparedness plan often involves an over-the-air radio for obtaining official information, locating the nearest shelter, planning an evacuation route, keeping an emergency kit, and updating your plan for COVID-19.

Be sure your plan is customized for the people in your household.

Children have different needs than older adults. It’s also a good idea to practice your plan.

Business preparedness plans usually vary depending on the type of business as well as the type of disaster.

Most businesses should be ready for fires, floods, earthquakes, civil unrest, and power outages.

In terms of financial relief, business interruption insurance sometimes pays for part of the cost. But that’s not always the case. More on that below.

Personal Injuries

These incidents kill or seriously injure millions of Americans every year.

For the most part, these incidents are not “accidents.” At some level, negligence is usually involved.

Negligence is not the same thing as malice. Rather, is an unintentional lack of care. We all make mistakes like these, and we are all responsible for our mistakes.

In this context, part of that responsibility includes the aforementioned damages compensation.

Personal injuries can affect any person at any time. Some common ones include:

  • Car Wrecks: High-speed vehicle collisions are usually the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. Even if the victims survive, they often suffer from head injuries and other serious wounds.
  • Falls: Slip-and-fall injuries as well as falls from a height often cause similar injuries. Generally, landowners are responsible for damages in these cases. Victim/plaintiffs must prove the owner owed a legal duty and knew about the fall hazard.
  • Poisoning: Heroin and prescription painkiller overdoses are by far the leading cause of unintentional poisoning deaths in New York. These cases are quite complex. The prescribing doctor, person who owned the house where the overdose occurred, manufacturer who made the pill, and/or company that shipped the medicine could all be legally responsible.
  • Dog Bites: New York courts observe the common law one-bite rule. Owners are liable for damages if they knew the animal was potentially dangerous. Compensation for medical bills is usually easier to obtain.

In all these incidents, victim/plaintiffs must establish negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).

Commercial Injuries

The coronavirus pandemic crippled many businesses, and insurance companies have largely refused to honor business interruption insurance policies.

But there is some good news.

Bergen County, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Michael N. Beukas recently overruled an insurance company’s motion for summary judgement in a business interruption insurance case.

So, Franklin Mutual Insurance Company must explain to a jury why it refused to honor Optical Services USA’s business interruption policy when officials shut down the business because of the coronavirus pandemic.

As of September 2020, approximately 3,000 similar lawsuits are pending across the country.

An important step in your disaster preparedness plan is partnering with an experienced New York personal injury attorney at Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. Home, hospital, after-hours, and virtual visits are available.