SALEM, Ore. -- Disaster Legal Services are now available to Oregonians, according to the Oregon? Emergency Management Agency (OEM) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The toll-free number is 1-800-452-7636. Call M-F 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The purpose of Disaster Legal Services (DLS) is to help provide for disaster legal services for low-income individuals who, prior to or because of the disaster, are unable to secure legal services adequate to meet their disaster-related needs.?
When the President declares a disaster, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through an agreement with the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association, provides free legal help for victims of that disaster.? FEMA utilizes this agreement under the authority of Section 415 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Public Law 100-707).
The assistance that participating lawyers provide typically includes:
- Assistance with insurance claims (life, medical, property, etc.).
- Counseling on landlord/tenant problems.
- Assistance with home repair contracts.
- Assisting in consumer protection matters, remedies, and procedures.
- Counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems.
- Replacement of wills and other important legal documents destroyed in a major disaster.?
- Drafting of powers of attorney.
- Estate administration (insolvent estates).
- Preparation of guardianships and conservatorships.
- Referring individuals to local and State agencies that may be of further assistance (e.g., consumer affairs).
Legal advice is limited to cases that will not produce a fee (i.e., those cases where attorneys are paid part of the settlement, which is awarded by the court).? Cases that may generate a fee are turned over to the local lawyer referral service.? The assistance that local lawyers provide typically include:
- Help with insurance claims for doctor and hospital bills, loss of property, loss of life, etc.
- Drawing up new wills and other legal papers lost in the disaster;
- Help with home repair contracts and contractors;
- Advice on problems with landlords; and
- Preparing powers of attorney.
There ARE limitations and conditions of disaster legal services.? Call 1-800-452-7636 for more information.?
To register with FEMA, call 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA)? or you may register online at www.fema.gov. ?The TTY number is 1-800-462-7585.
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.