Disaster Legal Services

What is it:  When the President declares a disaster, FEMA/EPR, through an agreement with the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association, provides free legal assistance to disaster victims. Legal advice is limited to cases that will not produce a fee (i.e., these attorneys work without payment). Cases that may generate a fee are turned over to the local lawyer referral service.

What Agency Offers it:  FEMA

When is it offered:  Its offered by the American Bar Association after presidential disaster declaration .  http://www.abanet.org/disaster/

The assistance that participating lawyers provide typically includes:

What is it:  Assistance with insurance claims (life, medical, property, etc.)

  • Counseling on landlord/tenant problems
  • Assisting in consumer protection matters, remedies, and procedures
  • Replacement of wills and other important legal documents destroyed in a major disaster

Who can Qualify:  Disaster legal services are provided to low-income individuals who, prior to or because of the disaster, are unable to secure legal services adequate to meet their needs as a consequence of a major disaster.

How can  you apply:  Following Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, the ABA launched a substantial effort to respond, particularly to provide resources to support the delivery of legal services to those who cannot pay for them and to help the lawyers affected.  Below are the contact numbers provided by the American Bar Association: 

Disaster Law Services

Iowa hotline – Severe Storms, Flooding, and Tornadoes 
877-775-8882  FEMA information

Kentucky hotline – Severe Storms, Flooding, and Mudslides  
877-445-8763 FEMA information

North Carolina hotline – Severe Storms, Flooding, and Straight-line Winds
800-662-7407  FEMA information     Press Release

Tennessee hotline – Severe Storms, Flooding, Straight-Line Winds, and Tornadoes   888-395-9297  FEMA information  Tennessee Bar Association News Release

Texas hotline – Hurricane Alex
800-504-7030  FEMA information

Wisconsin hotline – Wisconsin Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Flooding
(877) 947-5291  FEMA information   Legal Services Flyer

The New Orleans Bar Association has added a page for disaster legal resources related to the Gulf Oil Spill with information on insurance claims, loans, health hazards, and emergency services. Click here for more information.

Southeast Louisiana Legal Services has created a legal resource page for those affected by the Gulf Coast Oil Spill. The resource page includes information on issues such as claims, health hazards, and outreach programs, among other things. Click here for more information.

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