LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Free legal assistance is available from the Young Lawyers Section of the Arkansas Bar Association to the victims of the devastating tornadoes, severe storms, high winds and flooding which hit the state between Jan. 21 and Jan. 31, 1999. This assistance is in accordance with an agreement between the Young Lawyers Section of the Arkansas Bar Association and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Arkansas Office of Emergency Services (OES).
"The free legal assistance," according to Baxter Sharp, spokesman for the Young Lawyers Section, "may consist of securing benefits for disaster victims and the resolution of their claims." However, if the case is a "fee-generating" case, meaning it has potential monetary value, an applicant will be referred by the voluntary lawyers to a private counsel.
Eligible applicants from any of 15 counties designated in the disaster declaration by President Bill Clinton on January 23, 1999 and following amendments may call 1-800-650-0856 for the free legal assistance. Hours of operation are 1:00 p.m. to 4 p.m., weekdays. (In Pulaski County the number to call is 501-375-4606.) Arkansas counties designated for the free legal assistance are Clay, Faulkner, Grant, Greene, Independence, Jefferson, LaFayette, Lonoke, Miller, Monroe, Poinsett, Pulaski, Saline, St.Francis and White.
Types of legal services available include the following:
- Assistance with insurance claims (life, medical, property, etc.)
- Counseling on landlord/tenant issues and other housing problems
- Assistance with home repair contracts
- Assistance with consumer protection matters, remedies and procedures
- Counseling on mortgage foreclosure problems
- Replacement of Wills and other important legal documents destroyed in the disaster
- Drafting of Powers of Attorney
- Estate administration (insolvent)
- Preparation of guardianship and conservatorship
- Referring individuals to local or state agencies