House fires are one of the most devastating events that can happen to a family. Sadly, many can end in serious injury, substantial loss, or even death. Determining how a fire was started is often not easy. It involves extensive investigation and complicated conversations with the fire department, witnesses, and even experts. Processing the loss of your personal belongings or loved ones is also very difficult. This is why you should contact the experienced attorneys at The Kryder Law Group, LLC. If you have been injured or have property damage in a residential fire, the lawyers at The Kryder law Group can help you determine if you qualify for compensation.
In this Article
Recovering from Your Injury, Property Loss, or Death of a Loved One
“In my 30+ years of fire service, this is the most difficult scene I’ve responded to,” said Fire Chief Anderson, who responded to a residential fire in Des Plaines, Illinois, where a young mother, age 25, and her four young daughters, ages 1,3,5, and 6, were tragically killed. The mother, her husband, and their daughters lived in a single-family home which was converted into four apartments. The mother was pronounced dead at the scene. All of the daughters were transported to the hospital where they were pronounced dead. The cause of the fire is under investigation and it is unclear if the property had functional smoke detectors. News stories like this are all too common.
Processing the injuries or death of a loved one can be very traumatic and will take time. After a fire, it is easy to see how grieving relatives, like the father mentioned above, suffering from devastating loss may not know how to handle complex insurance claims. Claims for injuries, property damage, and maybe the death of a loved one still need to be filed with the appropriate insurance companies and parties even while survivors are wrestling with their losses. These times can be sensitive and heartbreaking, but time is also of the essence. It is highly recommended to retain an experienced attorney to handle these matters for you during this difficult time.
Should I get a lawyer after a house fire?
Yes. If you or a loved one suffered injury, property damage, or even death, you should get an experienced attorney immediately. Hiring an experienced attorney will ensure that your claim is properly and thoroughly investigated. A residential fire are extremely complicated, and many questions must be answered to ensure that the claim is properly handled, such as:
Was the property owned by you or were you renting?
Was there homeowners and/or renters insurance?
What was the cause of the fire? Was it caused by someone other than the individuals involved?
Incidents that involve fire are instantly complicated by the fact that any potential evidence that would lead to determining the cause of the fire and the extent of damages are lost. In some cases, discovering the cause of the fire can take months. Determining how long a fire investigation will take depends on how much evidence can be preserved, the size of the fire, loss of life or property, number of witnesses, and if suspicious activity is involved.
Illinois enacted a statute that governs the investigation of fires. According to the Fire Investigation Act 425 ILCS 25/6(a),
“The chief of the fire department shall investigate the cause, origin and circumstances of every fire occurring in a municipality or fire protection district, or in any area or on any property which is furnished fire protection by the fire department of such municipality or fire protection district, by which property has been destroyed or damaged, and shall especially make investigation as to whether such fire was the result of carelessness or design. Such investigation shall be begun within two days, not including Sunday, of the occurrence of such fire, and the Office shall have the right to supervise and direct such investigation whenever it deems it expedient or necessary. The officer making investigation of fires occurring in cities, villages, towns, fire protection districts or townships shall forthwith notify the Office and shall by the 15th of the month following the occurrence of the fire, furnish to the Office a statement of all facts relating to the cause and origin of the fire, and such other information as may be called for in a format approved or on forms provided by the Office.” [Fire Investigation Act 425 ILCS 25/6(a)]
If someone dies and the fire contributed to the death, then “the coroner of the county where the death occurred shall report the death to the office as provided in Section 3-3013 of the Counties Code.” [Fire Investigation Act 425 ILCS 25/6(b)]
An experienced attorney is aware and understands the many reporting factors involved in investigating and seeking justice on behalf of their clients involved in house fires. Your attorney knows that they have to hit the ground running to ensure that the county or city promptly begins the investigation to determine the case and will retain experts to double check the investigation findings of the fire department. All of this can be overwhelming, complicated, and burdensome especially when grieving the loss of your property, loved ones, and healing from your injuries.
Can I receive compensation for my property damage, injuries, and loss of a loved one?
Yes. There are avenues that an experienced attorney knows to explore to get you compensation for your loss.
While the investigation into the fire is proceeding with the fire department, an investigation to determine whether there is homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance for the property is also underway. The insurance on the property will determine what recovery claims can be made on your behalf. Once the proper insurance is identified then an investigation into the cause of the fire and the available compensation coverage begins with the insurance company.
In some cases, there may not be insurance to cover the damages. In that event, it may prove beneficial to pursue a claim or lawsuit against the owner of the property for their failure to have preventive measures in place to ensure a fire would not happen.
There are often cases where compensation for your injuries and loss of a loved one is not immediately resolved, and a lawsuit has to be filed to aggressively prosecute the claim on your behalf. In those cases, your lawyer will do the necessary research, draft the complaint, and fight for you against the at-fault party or insurance company to get you compensation. When the lawsuit is filed for injuries that did not result in death, your attorney will make a claim on your behalf that the injuries sustained were due to the negligence of an entity or person, who had a responsibility to prevent and or protect you from said fire.
In the event a death is caused by a fire and a lawsuit must be filed, the lawsuit would include a wrongful death claim and a survival action claim.
What is a wrongful death claim and survival action claim?
Wrongful Death Claims
In Illinois, when a person has died due to the wrongdoing of another and a loved one or legal representative wants to file a civil lawsuit because of the loss the family member has experienced, then the complaint would contain a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death claims are governed by the Illinois Statute 740 ILCS 180/1. Under this statute the claim must be brought by “a personal representative” of the deceased. A personal representative can be an immediate family member, spouse, parent or child.
The purpose of the wrongful death act is to be able to provide an avenue for the deceased loved ones to seek compensation on the behalf of the deceased because the loved ones no longer have their companionship, love and presence due to the negligence of someone else. Under the wrongful death act, it is possible to be compensated for damages including:
Burial and funeral expenses.
Loss of society, which can mean love, support, affection.
Grief, sorrow, and mental suffering.
Direct economic losses in the past and for the future.
Survival Action Claims
The survival action is a claim that can be filed on behalf of the deceased that would have been available to the deceased had they not passed away. The easiest way to think about this is “had John not passed away because of Sam’s negligence, would John have filed a claim for himself?” If the answer to this question is yes, then a survival action is more than likely appropriate.
Differences Between Wrongful Death and Survival Action
Wrongful death is a claim filed by the deceased loved ones because of their grief and sorrow.
Survival action is filed to pursue claims on behalf of the deceased for injuries they would have been entitled to pursue had they lived.
Statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim starts at the date of the death.
Statute of limitation for a survival action claim starts at the date of the injury.
In Illinois, there is a two (2) year statute of limitations to file a wrongful death or survival action claim. In the case of a death from a fire, the statute of limitations clock starts running on the date of death for the wrongful death claim. On the survival action claim, the statute of limitations would start on the date the deceased was injured. In house fires these claims may have two different dates.
For example, let’s imagine that a man was injured in an apartment fire due to faulty wiring and no fire escape on December 3, 2022. He was rescued by firefighters and transported to the local hospital in critical condition. Three days later on December 6, 2022, the man passes away. The man’s family wants to file a lawsuit against the landlord for the faulty wiring and not providing a safe fire escape. The family would have two years from December 6, 2022 to file a wrongful death claim. For a survival action claim, the family would have two years from December 3, 2022 to pursue the claim.
The experienced attorneys at The Kryder Law Group know exactly what types of claims to pursue on behalf of house fire victims, the applicable statute of limitations, and will thoroughly investigate all of the claims and compensations you and your family should be entitled to. We immediately establish contact with the insurance carrier and start the claim on your behalf. This process can be very tedious and involve a lot of paperwork, difficult phone calls with the insurance carrier, and even arguments with the insurance company to convince them to extend coverage to all affected structures that were damaged by the fire. This is why it is important to have an experienced legal team on your side right away.
Am I ok after a fire if I had insurance?
In many cases, having insurance coverage for a home or apartment fire does not immediately provide compensation for your loss. In addition to the fire department performing an investigation, the insurance company also performs their own investigation. While the investigation is proceeding with the insurance company, you may be waiting for the insurance funds to be released. During this time, it is important to contact loved ones or friends to assist you with relocation expenses. At times like this, you may begin to feel that no one is on your side. This is another reason you should call The Kryder Law Group. We will investigate the fire and, if need be, fight the insurance company. Our experienced lawyers have handled injuries related to house fires and can be a powerful advocate on your side and give you confidence during this difficult time.
What does my insurance policy cover?
Almost every homeowner’s insurance policy protects structures and belongings within them. If a home is destroyed by fire, most standard policies that cover fire also cover the cost of additional living expenses, such as hotel stays, rentals, or food and restaurant bills.
The fine print of your policy will detail the specific coverages and policy limit for each coverage.
Homeowner’s insurance usually covers:
Dwellings – the structure of the home and usually the garage.
Detached structures – also known as “other structure coverage” and usually includes structures on your property such as sheds, fences, or detached garages.
Personal property – appliances, furniture, or clothing.
Landscaping – flowerbeds, trees, or other plants.
Personal injury or death – injuries and/or death caused by the fire.
Medical bills – may be covered up to a certain amount.
Renter’s Insurance usually covers:
Electronics and appliances.
Furniture and clothing.
Extra expenses if property is uninhabitable due to the fire.
Personal injury due to the fire.
Some policies provide for medical bills up to a certain amount.
What if my house fire happened in a rental property?
If you are involved in a house fire as a renter, then some of the responsibility to receive compensation for the damages is shared between you and the landlord. The landlord should have an insurance policy on the rental property and you should have a rental insurance policy for your unit. The coverage of the landlord and the tenant can cause some confusion and potentially create a fine line concerning coverage. One policy may provide primary coverage and the other secondary or excess coverage. Sometimes the origins of the fire may impact which insurance policy has primary coverage.
The landlord should be active in pursuing a claim with the building’s insurance to take care of you. This starts with notifying the insurance company of the building so that claims may be established.
The insurance coverage for the building should extend and cover finding alternative housing while the fire is being investigated and to ensure you have habitable living. The coverage should also extend to repairing the building. Every policy varies and many landlords do not inform their tenants of this coverage.
What expenses should a landlord expect?
As a landlord, expenses of property damage are to be expected such as:
Restoration Cost – Fires can cause significant damage even if the building is not considered uninhabitable. The cost to repair may include smoke and water damage to secure the property. To bring the building to its necessary code will be expensive.
Legal Fees – Legal fees may come into play if any of the tenants are injured and are making a claim that the landlord was negligent in causing the tenants injuries. The landlord may be responsible for the legal fees of their own lawyer, medical fees, property damage costs, and court costs.
Relocation – The tenants in the unit will need a place to stay until the building is deemed habitable after a fire. Therefore, the landlord may be responsible for the cost of relocating the tenants, However, if the fire is caused by the tenant, the landlord may not be responsible.
Lost Rental Income – While the property is being repaired, the tenants will not be paying rent for their units. Therefore, the landlord will not be receiving payment for the units. This could create a massive financial burden for the landlord because of the loss of income.
What are common causes of fires in apartments?
Apartment fires can be caused by many things. Here are some of the most common causes:
Building code violations
Lack of smoke detectors
No fire extinguishers
Defective smoke alarms
Blocked fire exits
Lack of fire alarms
A landlord must keep the building safe and habitable for its tenants, which includes having operating smoke detectors, alarms, and accessible fire exits. Failure to keep the building safe and operable may result in a claim being filed against the landlord for negligence.
If you were involved in a fire and believe that one or more of the causes above may have been the reason for the fire, call The Kryder Law Group immediately so we can handle the fight after the fire for you.
What are common causes of house fires?
Time and time again, statistics continue to show that cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Smoking tends to be the leading cause of home fire deaths. During 2014-2018, United States fire departments responded to an estimated average of 353,100 home structure fires per year. Those fires caused on average 2,620 civilian deaths, 11,030 civilian fire injuries, and $7.2 billion in direct property damage.
Residential fires in 2019 were commonly caused by:
Unintentional, careless behavior
Intentional fire setting
Unintentional carelessness and smoking were some of the leading causes of residential fire fatalities in 2019 while cooking, unintentional carelessness, open flame, and electrical malfunction were the leading causes of residential fire injuries in 2019.
What should I do to prevent a house fire?
Many residential fires are not necessarily random. Whether a fire was started on purpose or occurred randomly there are fire safety measures that everyone should put in place to minimize the chances of a fire starting:
Smoke detectors should be installed on every level of your home and in other home structures like garages or sheds. The batteries should be checked monthly and replaced immediately if necessary.
Keep lighters, gasoline and matches out of the way of children.
Never smoke in the bed or on surfaces like the couch that can be easily flammable.
Do not leave lit cigarettes and candles unattended.
Have the wiring in your home checked by an electrician to ensure circuits are not overloaded.
Have an expert check your heating units and space heaters to ensure they are safe to operate.
Taking all of the necessary steps to fireproof a home is great and will more than likely save many lives. However, no house can be fully fireproof. Here are some things to consider that will help you prepare for a fire:
Create an exit plan with your family. The plan should include:
Ways of escape from the home.
Setting a meeting location after the fire such as going to the neighbor’s home.
Having an emergency contact for the family to call.
Having a plan in place for the family to go after the fire, such as a hotel or a relatives home.
Practicing crawling low to avoid the smoke and fire.
Once the fire has started and it’s time to put the plan in place, some things you should do in the moment to exit the home are:
Crawl low to stay under the smoke to escape.
When leaving a room to exit the house, close the door behind you and feel the door of the room you are entering to determine if the fire is near. If the door or doorknob is hot, that usually means that the room is on fire.
If your body or clothes catch fire, stop, drop and roll to smother and put the flames out.
Get out of the home as fast and safe as possible.
Make sure all residents in the home can provide accurate directions to the home to emergency personnel.
Who is the most at-risk for being injured in a fire?
Majority of residential fires kill or injure children.
Majority of children ages 4 and younger who have to be hospitalized for burn related injuries, suffer scald burns or contact burns.
Each year fires kill about 500 children ages 14 and under.
Leading cause of residential fire death and injury for children ages 9 and under is carelessness. For example, leaving a candle burning or not monitoring food cooking in the kitchen.
About half of children ages 5 and under who die from home fires are asleep at the time of the fire.
Residential fires and related deaths occur more often during the cold-weather months (December through February) due to portable heating equipment.
Can firefighters or first responders receive worker’s compensation for their injuries on the job?
When home fires are reported, it is not often you hear stories of firefighters being injured. However, firefighters are involved in a dangerous occupation where they risk life and limb each time they go to work. Firefighters who are injured can be worried about their income and livelihood being affected because of their injuries.
An estimated 25,975 firefighter injuries occurred annually on the foreground.
An estimated 4,525 firefighter injuries occurred while responding to or returning from an incident.
The majority of firefighter injuries occurred in structure fires.
46% of firefighters sustained injuries that resulted in lost work time.
Paid firefighters and other first responders who are injured on the job are entitled to workers compensation under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act. A firefighter, like any other employee who is injured on the job, can make a claim.
Under the Workers Compensation Act, firefighters and first responders can make claims and receive benefits for medical bills, partial lost wages, and temporary and permanent disability benefits. However, since the job of a firefighter is inherently dangerous and has certain risks, the rules of the Illinois Workers Compensation Act have been tailored to consider those risks when firefighters have an injury. Firefighters are covered for both injuries suffered while fighting a fire and other job related activities such as maintenance, office duties, training, etc.
In 2008, The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act was amended to include specific conditions that could affect firefighters and other first responders:
Lung or respiratory issues
Other injuries such as burns, broken bones, other one-time injuries and even injuries that accumulate over time, like strains and sprains from using tools, can be claimed in a worker’s compensation claim.
An experienced lawyer knows how to recover an injured firefighter’s compensation while they are recuperating. It is important to contact an established workers compensation attorney to start the process of protecting your wages while you recover from protecting others from dangerous fires.
Call The Kryder Law Group as soon as possible so your injuries are protected.
How can The Kryder Law Group and their house fire lawyers help with my injury claim?
The days and weeks after a fire related accident can be chaotic, frustrating, and scary. You may be in the hospital, out of work, have medical bills piling up and no home to go to. Tragically, in some cases, you may be planning a funeral on top of healing from your own injuries. You may find that so much has changed in such a short time that you do not know where to start. Having the proper guidance is very important. Focusing on your health and getting medical treatment are your number one concern. If you are in the process of burying a loved one, healthy grieving should be a priority. But, unfortunately, you also need to make financial compensation a priority. And if your injuries or loss from a fire happened because of someone’s negligence or carelessness, Illinois law entitles you to recover your economic damages and money for pain and suffering.
Having an experienced lawyer focus on your economic recovery while you focus on your medical recovery is probably the number one reason to seek legal counsel. Collecting evidence after a fire is very difficult and is time sensitive. Having a lawyer focused on your claim while you focus on your health or the loss of a loved one ensures that all important priorities are being handled. You do not want any part of your claim to be neglected during your recovery and grieving process. An experienced lawyer can ensure all necessary steps are taken to preserve evidence and follow-up on the necessary investigations to ensure and maximize your recovery.
If you are still unsure why having an attorney to handle your house fire claim, here are more reasons you may want to hire a lawyer after suffering a house fire.
Knowledge and Experience
There really is no substitute for knowledge and experience in your field. Having a skilled professional provide guidance in a highly specialized area of law is one reason to hire an experienced house fire lawyer to assist with your case. Without the proper counsel you can’t really ever know if you are being treated fairly by the insurance company. Many cases can be settled without filing a lawsuit. However, if your case needs to be taken to court you will need an experienced lawyer to handle your case. Why not start with what you will ultimately need and hire a knowledgeable Chicago house fire lawyer at the beginning of your case. When you are involved in a house fire, making sure you receive fair compensation and everything you deserve is critical. Hiring a knowledgeable and experienced house fire attorney is really the only way you can assure that happens.
Rapid Response for Catastrophic Injury and Death Claims
Documenting evidence after a fire takes skill and knowledge. To do it properly your lawyer must move swiftly. Evidence is already limited because of the damage caused by the fire. Collecting and following up with the investigating agencies requires dedicated time and hard conversations. For example, the city fire department must start the investigation into the cause of the fire within a few days of the incident. It is important that while the city is conducting their investigation, our experts conduct their own investigation. In addition to our experts, the insurance company will dispatch their own investigation team. All of the investigations assist in collecting evidence to determine who is the responsible and negligent party for the fire.
The key is to locate, gather, and preserve evidence for use. The evidence may be used in the claim stage of a case, during litigation, or at trial. Preserving the evidence allows you to use it at any of these important stages. Once evidence is lost, it is gone forever. If the evidence is not preserved, it can diminish the ability to prove your claim. This is why The Kryder Law Group is available to visit the scene within hours to preserve and document critical evidence.
To preserve evidence our lawyers will:
Send spoilation letters ensuring evidence is preserved
Issue Freedom of Information Requests
Hire experts to evaluate, identify, document, preserve, and analyze evidence
Home Visits and Hospital Visits
It is very traumatic to be involved in a house fire, whether you are injured or not. You have to rearrange your entire life. The attorneys and investigators at the Kryder Law Group will meet you wherever you are comfortable. We can and will meet you on the weekdays or weekends. Our firm will work around your schedule and around the clock on your claim.
No Up Front Expenses
One of the best reasons to hire a lawyer after a fire accident is that there is no up front fee or costs. Attorneys at The Kryder Law Group will meet with and discuss your options. For Free. There is no obligation to move forward after the consultation. There is no downside to having the consultation. You likely have many questions on what to do after a fire accident, especially if you are out of work, were seriously injured, have property damage, or have lost a loved one. Getting legal counsel to answer your questions is probably the smartest decision you can make after a serious incident like a fire.
No Fee Until Your Case is Resolved
There are no fees unless you win. This is called a contingency fee. The lawyer and client agree on a percentage of the settlement (typically 1/3 or 33 Percent) as the fee agreement. When you win the case, the lawyer receives the agreed upon percentage. By doing this, the client never has to pay the lawyer unless the lawyer delivers a settlement or favorable jury award. If the lawyer does not recover anything on your behalf, then there is no fee. This arrangement incentivizes the attorney to maximize the recovery. It also eliminates the need for a client to come up with money to hire a lawyer. We understand that most individuals and families have monthly financial obligations and paying a lawyer in addition to other bills is not always practical. The contingency fee agreement resolves the need for up legal fees. It also means the client is only paying for results.
This makes contacting an experienced fire lawyer at The Kryder Law Group an easy decision. You can meet with our lawyers in person, via phone, or in a video meeting.
Providing Much Needed Support
You may not think a lawyer could be supportive, but you may be surprised. Many personal injury attorneys meet their clients under very difficult situations. It could be after an accident or an unexpected death. Attorneys who practice personal injury law have helped clients through similar situations. Because of this, the lawyers can provide much needed support because they have been through it before with other clients. The attorneys at The Kryder Law Group have been called family by past clients. We support clients in many ways through very difficult situations and we treat each client like a family member of the firm. The Kryder Law group is a group of attorneys who handle every case like it’s a family member.
Educating You on the Laws and Deadlines to Act
A good lawyer educates their clients regarding the law so informed decisions can be made in your best interest. Counseling clients so they understand their rights is one of the most important responsibilities a lawyer has. Your lawyer should listen to you and answer all your questions. The lawyers at The Kryder Law Group are trained to listen to each client. Each lawyer should discuss the goals and expectations for the case. Your lawyer should involve you in the case and educate you about the law and any deadlines to act. The Lawyers at the Kryder Law Group will break the most complicated facts or law and explain it to you in a way that you will completely understand. There is no wrong question to ask when dealing with a serious situation like a house fire. The Kryder Law Group takes the time to answer all of your questions and will explain information that you may not even realize you had questions about.
A skilled litigator knows how to prepare a case. This may sound rather obvious, but it is not. Preparing a case takes skill, expertise, and experience. Experienced personal injury lawyers have honed their skills over time. A lawyer knows how to draft the needed paperwork and file it with the courts, how to take a deposition, issue subpoenas, request discovery, cross examine a witness, value your case appropriately, and so much more. If you are asking what these things are, you would probably benefit from having a lawyer assist with your house fire claim.
Skilled Negotiators on Your Side
Negotiating skills are sharpened with practice and over time. Personal injury lawyers negotiate for a living. Having a shrewd and skilled negotiator on your side can help maximize your recovery. The Kryder Law Group always knows how far to get to produce maximum results for their clients.
Help with Complex Paperwork
Legal paperwork can be confusing. Never sign what you do not understand. Most lawyers use 50 words to say what can probably be said in 5. Understanding claim forms, medical authorizations and releases can be frustrating. A lawyer can help you understand the paperwork and likely know how to complete the paperwork. The attorneys at the Kryder Law Group take this burden and carry it for you.
Guidance on What Will Happen Next
An experienced home fire attorney can and should provide guidance and educate you on what will happen next. Your lawyer should help you understand the process and timeline of events that will likely occur in the future. Understanding what happens next can reduce anxiety about the process and help you prepare for the next step. The attorneys at The Kryder Law Group realistically discuss the timeline with each client and keep the client informed when or if that timeline should change. The clients at The Kryder Law Group are not just clients but are also a part of the team.
Advice on How to Get Your Medical Bills Reduced and Paid
There are many different insurance policies at play for a home fire accident. There may be homeowners insurance, renters insurance, landlord insurance, property management insurance, and even health insurance. In other instances, Medicare, Medicaid or disability insurance may be involved. Knowing how to coordinate payment from the different types of insurance can dramatically impact your recovery. Personal injury lawyers deal with insurance every day and know how to coordinate payment of medical bills to your benefit. Just as important as making sure your bills are paid is making sure your bills are paid for the least amount possible. Many injury lawyers can negotiate reductions on your medical bills which means a larger recovery for you. The attorneys at The Kryder Law Group have working knowledge and contacts with the various health insurance companies to figure out who is involved and who needs to be handled concerning your medical bills. A good lawyer not only negotiates but they deliver.
Access to Resources that Will Help Maximize Your Case
Having the resources, preparation, and experience to handle a catastrophic fire injury, property damage or death claim is what sets The Kryder Law Group apart. It is important to document evidence immediately and hire the correct experts to prove your case. Evidence such as whether there was faulty wiring, operable smoke detectors, lit candles, and other evidence should be preserved immediately for expert evaluation later. Doing so can make or break a case. It can be the difference between maximum compensation and no compensation.
Free Consultation for Home Fire Claim
In a home fire there are many claims that may be available for you to file. You may submit a claim for property damage, injuries, death, or reimbursement and relocation expenses. All these different claims can seem burdensome. Your initial consultation with The Kryder Law Group is FREE! Should you retain us, every viable claim available to you will be filed promptly and properly. If you have any questions concerning your claims because of a fire, call The Kryder Law group as soon as possible.