Lawyers Provide Legal Help to Hurricanes Charley and Frances Victims
CHICAGO, Sept. 10, 2004 – In the aftermath of hurricanes Charley and Frances, many Floridians find themselves faced with a whole new dilemma – dealing with legal problems caused by the disaster. Questions that confront them range from whether they need to pay the mortgage on a house that was destroyed to finding out what damage is covered under their insurance policies.
Volunteer lawyers from the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and the Florida Bar are available to answer legal questions through a toll-free hotline open to hurricane victims (1-866-550-2929).
Through a 1978 agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the ABA YLD has been called upon to provide legal assistance to victims of natural disasters. When the U.S. president triggers federal assistance to a stricken area by declaring a “major disaster,” the ABA YLD mobilizes lawyers to coordinate volunteer activities through hotlines or by staffing disaster recovery centers in the hardest-hit counties.
On Aug. 13, President Bush officially declared several counties in Florida as federal disaster areas and FEMA asked the ABA YLD to organize disaster legal assistance.
According to Mark Arnold, the ABA YLD Florida representative, since that time about 600 volunteer lawyers have volunteered to take calls. The majority of callers have asked for help with landlord/tenant problems, but volunteers are prepared to offer assistance with many more issues such as:
* Insurance claims
* Home repair contracts
* Consumer protection matters
* Mortgage foreclosure problems
* Replacement of wills and other lost documents
* Drafting of powers of attorney
* Estate administration
* Preparation of guardianships and conservatorships
ABA YLD Chair Barrett Watson applauds the work of the volunteers. “The volunteer lawyers who work the hotline are the front line of contact for victims who have legal problems,” said Watson. “They help victims solve these problems so they can recover from their losses and begin to rebuild their lives.”
Disaster legal services are available to low-income individuals who require legal services as a result of Hurricanes Charley and Frances. Callers who have the ability to pay are referred to the local legal referral service. The Disaster Legal Services Hotline is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Members of the ABA Young Lawyers Division have provided legal assistance to victims of numerous disasters since 1978, including hurricanes Andrew and Isabel, the Oklahoma City bombing, the San Francisco earthquakes and the wildfires in California. The ABA YLD volunteer lawyers also provided free legal assistance to more than 1,000 victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
For more information, contact Barbara Sharpley at 312/988-5671 or email@example.com.
The American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division is the ABA’s largest entity, composed of approximately 130,000 members. The mission of the Young Lawyers Division, as the national organization of young lawyers, is to provide leadership in serving the public and the profession, and to promote excellence and fulfillment in the practice of law.
With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law in a democratic society.