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DISASTER LEGAL RELIEF


Background

When the U.S. President declares a major disaster, FEMA, in cooperation with the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, establishes a toll-free number for disaster survivors to request legal assistance. Funding for the toll-free line comes from FEMA under the authority of Section 415 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Public Law No. 100-707).

In Kentucky, the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division partners with the Kentucky Bar Association, the Kentucky Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and other legal organizations to recruit volunteer lawyers in affected areas to handle survivors’ cases.

The type of legal assistance available includes:

  • Assistance with securing FEMA and other government benefits available to disaster survivors.
  • Assistance with life, medical and property insurance claims.
  • Help with home repair contracts and contractors.
  • Replacement of wills and other important legal documents destroyed in the disaster.
  • Assisting in consumer protection matters, remedies and procedures.
  • Counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems.
  • Counseling on landlord/tenant problems.
Survivors should be aware that there are some limitations on disaster legal services. For example, assistance is not available for cases that will produce a fee (i.e., those cases where attorneys are paid part of the settlement by the court). Such cases are referred to a local lawyer referral service.

American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (ABA YLD)

The ABA YLD, the largest national organization of young lawyers, provides leadership in serving the public and the profession, and promotes excellence and fulfillment in the practice of law. Its parent organization, the ABA, is the national voice of the legal profession and the largest voluntary professional membership group in the world.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

FEMA coordinates the federal government’s role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror. Through an agreement with the American Bar Association, FEMA underwrites the cost of operating toll free legal assistance lines for survivors in areas designated as federal disaster sites.

Kentucky Bar Association (KBA)

Operating as an agency of the Supreme Court of Kentucky, the Kentucky Bar Association is a mandatory bar with more than 16,000 members. To practice law in Kentucky, lawyers must be a member of the KBA. Founded in 1871, the KBA assists the Court in the regulation of lawyer discipline and continuing legal education.

Kentucky Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (KBA YLD)

The largest voluntary section of the KBA, the KBA Young Lawyers Division Disaster Legal Relief Committee leads the statewide response to any request for disaster legal services by recruiting volunteer attorneys and partnering with the Commonwealth’s legal aid organizations to meet the needs of survivors of disasters.
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