WESTFIELD, Mass. -- Residents in Berkshire and Franklin counties affected by the August 27 - 29 storms can request the assistance of a lawyer through a toll-free legal aid line.
The service is provided through a partnership comprised of the American Bar Association, the Berkshire County Bar Association, the Franklin County Bar Association, the Hampden County Bar Association and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Individuals with legal issues arising from the severe storms that struck western Massachusetts in late August and who are unable to afford a lawyer can request assistance 24 hours a day by calling 1-(855) 866-1644. Callers will be asked to leave a voice mail message. A volunteer attorney will return the call within 24 – 48 hours. A Spanish-speaking attorney may be requested.
Legal services are available for disaster related, non-fee generating legal needs such as:
- Assistance with securing FEMA and other government benefits
- Assistance with life, medical and property insurance claims
- Help with home repair contracts
- Replacement of wills and other legal documents destroyed in the disaster
- Assistance with consumer protection, remedies and procedures
- Counseling on mortgage and foreclosure problems related to Tropical Storm Irene
- Counseling on landlord/tenant problems
There are some limitations on disaster legal services. For example, assistance is not available for cases that will produce a fee (such as cases where attorneys are paid part of a settlement awarded by the court). Cases that may generate a fee are forwarded to a local lawyer referral service.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.