Orange Legal has locations all over the state of Florida, and we are thinking of our clients in the Florida Panhandle who have been affected by the devastating Hurricane Michael. As reported by My Panhandle, a new legal aid hotline has been set up for hurricane survivors. They are ready to speak with those who need legal assistance and don’t have the spare money to pay for it, because — you know — things have been a bit hectic lately.
A coalition was made among the Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division, the ABA Young Lawyers Division, the American Bar Association, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They’ve provided a host of eager volunteer attorneys who can answer vital, immediate questions facing Panhandle residents, such as:
- How to make and contest life, property, and medical insurance claims
- How to acquire FEMA and other types of benefits
- How to coordinate repair contractors
- How to replace valuable legal documents (estate plans, as an example)
- How to deal with a mortgage, landlord/tenant, or foreclosure issue
This resource (available at 1-866-550-2929) is available to residents affected by the hurricane who live in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty, Taylor, Wakulla, and Washington counties. Callers will be prompted to leave a message with their contact details and a description of their legal predicaments. If it can be resolved by a volunteer attorney, calls will be returned within two business days.
Personal injury cases — or those based on a contingent fee, in which a lawyer doesn’t get paid unless the client gets paid, and they take a third plus office expenses — cannot be resolved by using this service, so those cases will be referred out to attorneys in the area.
The My Panhandle article offered other valuable resources that have been provided by the Florida Bar Association, such as a Legal Assistance Consumer Guide, Florida Free Legal Answers, and Legal Aid Assistance. A Price Gouging hotline is available for unethical insurance companies looking to make a quick buck (1-866-9-NO-SCAM). People who require major disaster recovery should register with FEMA and see if they’re eligible for additional assistance.
Another resource you might not have considered: the U.S. Small Business Association, which offers low-interest disaster loans, which can help anything from a small business to a nonprofit. Even homeowners (landlords, for example) and renters are encouraged to apply for aid that might not be fully compensated by insurance companies.
There are many people and companies that are ready, eager, and waiting to help displaced Florida residents. Keep an eye on the Florida Bar Association hurricane website for further updates, and don’t be afraid to call the hotline! Even if they can’t help, they know someone who can.