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June 4, 2008 - Free Legal Assistance Available for Tornado Victims

 

 

 

For Immediate Release
Joint Press Release From:
FEMA – Federal Emergency Management Agency
ABA YLD – American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division
CBA – Colorado Bar Association, 1900 Grant St. Suite 900, Denver, Colo. 80203

Press contacts:
Christine McManus, CBA Director of Communications (303) 824-5347
Erin Hickey, ABA-YLD District Rep for Colorado & Wyoming (303) 936-3779 

Free Legal Assistance Available for Tornado Victims

Partnership between Colorado legal organizations and FEMA helps residents

DENVER – June 4, 2008 – A toll-free legal aid line is now available for victims of the tornado that hit Weld and Larimer counties. The service, which allows callers to request the assistance of a lawyer, is a partnership between the Colorado Bar Association, the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Victims facing legal issues may call 1-(877) 222-9324 to request assistance. Callers may leave their name, contact information, best time to call back and type of legal problem or assistance. All calls will be returned within 48 hours. Lower income victims who qualify for assistance will be matched with Colorado lawyers who have volunteered to provide free legal help.

The type of assistance available includes, but is not limited to:

  • Assistance with securing FEMA and other government benefits available to disaster victims
  • 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

After the tornado hit northern Colorado on May 22, Weld and Larimer County received major disaster declaration status. When the U.S. President declares a major disaster, FEMA can request that a Disaster Legal Services line be set up. As per a memorandum of understanding established in 1978 between FEMA and the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, attorneys near the affected region volunteer through the ABA YLD.

Basic 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 100-707). The ABA YLD in turn partners with state bar associations, like the Colorado Bar Association in this case, and other legal organizations to recruit volunteer lawyers in affected areas to handle victims’ cases. In addition to about 30 young lawyers who have already signed up, the Larimer and Weld Bar Associations and the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association are recruiting volunteer attorneys. Registered attorneys who wish to take on a pro bono case should contact the ABA YLD District Representative for Colorado and Wyoming, Erin Hickey, at ehickey@geromeandhickey.com. Attorneys may not charge for cases generated from the hotline.

The Disaster Legal Services line, in English and Spanish, will remain active for several weeks, or longer, until call volumes drop to just a couple calls per week. FEMA’s initial estimate predicts that as many as 70 people will use the hotline to connect to pro bono legal assistance with tornado-related issues.

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Partnership Members

The following organizations have joined forces to establish a toll-free phone line for Colorado storm victims to request free legal assistance, and to provide volunteer attorneys to handle cases arising from recent storm damage.

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 promoting 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 victims in areas designated as federal disaster sites.

Colorado Bar Association (CBA) – The CBA is the primary legal association for attorneys in the state, with more than 16,000 members who are licensed to practice law in Colorado. The CBA is partnering with local Weld and Larimer County Bar Associations and the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association to offer assistance to those in need, who have suffered due to these storms.