If you've been impacted by the civil unrest taking place across America, you may have questions about what to do next. While a majority of recent protests have been peaceful, you or a loved one may have suffered property damage, physical injury, or general distress as a result of spontaneous acts of violence, rioting, or other backlash that may have occurred in the aftermath. In this time of nationwide unrest, you may find that you are in need of certain legal documents to help you recover and rebuild.
What legal documents might I need to prepare?
Depending on the circumstances, you may need any of the following legal documents, among others:
Personal injury/medical care
What if I'm injured during a protest?
If you are injured during a protest, you may need to seek medical attention. Typically a care provider will file insurance claims on your behalf, however if they are out-of-network or simply do not provide this service, you may need to file a claim on your own. With a Letter to File a Medical Claim, you can package up all of the information necessary to make your claim. Each health insurance company has its own policy, so be sure to check your insurer's specific guidelines to ensure that you've included all of the materials that they require.
Even if you aren't harmed physically, the effects of current events can also be taxing mentally. If you need a referral to see a specialist in mental health or other services, you can use a Medical Referral Request. This letter can also be helpful if your insurance provider requires documentation of referrals in order to approve a claim. If your claim is denied, you may also need a Letter to Appeal a Medical Claim Denial.
If your injuries were sustained during an interaction with police, you may also want to file a police misconduct complaint to the appropriate local agency. If you have questions or feel that your rights were violated, you may find it helpful to talk to a lawyer.
Should I prepare any legal documents before protesting?
While you may not intend to participate in a violent protest, you never know what opposition your demonstration may encounter. Regardless of the circumstances, there are several legal documents that every adult should have: A Last Will and Testament, a Living Will, and a Healthcare Power of Attorney. These documents together are often called "Estate Planning" documents and they allow you to set forth your wishes in relation to medical treatment and what should happen if you pass away. This is already a tense and emotional time, so having some guidelines in place can help relieve your loved ones from having to make life-and-death decisions for you.
What if my business was damaged in the aftermath of protests?
If your business sustained any vandalism or other damage, you might consider contacting your insurance company to see what coverage might be available within your current policy before deciding on repair services. Your insurance provider may require a police report, so be sure to get the details in order and have them documented officially by your local law enforcement agency.
If you decide to hire a contractor to make repairs, be sure that the terms of your agreement are outlined in a Repair Contract. If your physical place of business was damaged beyond repair, you may choose to temporarily or permanently move your business operations to another location. If you do move, a Change of Address Letter can be used to formally notify your current and potential clients and customers of your business' change in location.
If your business is unable to uphold its contractual obligations due to property damage, you may consider using a Force Majeure Notice to renegotiate or terminate your agreements. Typically, your original contract will need to contain a force majeure clause covering civil unrest in order for the clause to be applicable to riots/looting.
If your business can remain open but it requires the use of special machinery or appliances that were damaged, you may need to rent equipment until you can make a replacement. An Equipment Lease will outline details such as the owner's and borrower's names, a description of the equipment, and the rights and obligations of both parties.
In addition to legal documents, there are also organizations that are helping small businesses that have been impacted by riots. If you're unable to afford the cost of rebuilding or reopening your business, you might consider starting a fundraiser using online platforms.
What if my home or car was damaged?
Before seeking repairs, you may want to contact your home or car insurance provider to learn what damage they will cover. Your insurer may require that you provide an official police report before they can approve any claims.
If you are prepared to make repairs on your home or other real estate property, using a Repair Contract can help to formalize your agreement with an independent contractor. You might also choose to make a document tailored for the specific type of work being done. Examples include: a Carpentry Contract, a Drywall Contract, an Electrical Service Agreement, or a Painting Contract.
If your car sustained damage, using an Auto Repair Contract will help to outline the details of your arrangement with a mechanic. That said, your service providers often will have their own standard contracts handy. If that is the case, you may want to ask a lawyer to review your agreement before signing.
What if I'm an employee and my workplace is no longer a welcoming place?
If you disagree with your employer's position on social justice or your workplace has become an unwelcoming environment in light of current events, you may choose to end your employment using a Resignation Letter. If you feel that you are being retaliated against or treated unfairly after participating in a protest or speaking up about discrimination in your workplace, you may want to talk to a lawyer.
How can I protect my business and my employees in the future?
In addition to ensuring that you have proper insurance in place that provides coverage for damage incurred during civil unrest, you'll want to make sure that your contracts include clauses that will protect you when you are unable to perform your obligations. You might also consider updating your Employee Handbook or drafting a separate Anti-Discrimination Policy to outline your standards and explain how employees can file a complaint, if needed. Finally, making a Business Contingency Plan can help you maintain business continuity in the event of future unrest by outlining the procedure for business closure as well as details related to back-up inventory and equipment.
If you have more questions about how to safeguard your business and protect your employees, ask a lawyer.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.