Legal Hotline Helps Over 500 Flood Victims

Free legal advice service still getting calls each week

NASHVILLE, August 26, 2010 — A free legal assistance hotline, established in the wake of last May's massive flooding across the state, has provided legal services to more than 500 Tennesseans. Those affected by the disaster continue to seek help with 10 to 15 calls being logged each week by those staffing the hotline. More than 200 lawyers in the state have been working on the cases.

In the three months since floodwaters receded, callers have received assistance with a range of issues. The most common calls have been related to landlord/tenant, insurance, FEMA benefits, consumer protection and foreclosure problems. A breakdown of calls by topic is attached.

TBA President Sam Elliott said the hotline represents just one solid example of how lawyers have helped. Elliott also lauded efforts by volunteers who have helped people at clinics and shelters, gone out and walked neighborhoods, and appeared in court on behalf of those affected by the floods.

Calls have been logged from more than half of the counties declared as federal disaster areas. The greatest number of calls -- 345 -- has come from Davidson County. The other high-volume counties have been Giles with 57 calls and Shelby with 42 calls. A list of all calls broken down by county is attached.

Victims facing legal issues may call (888) 395-9297 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. central time Monday through Friday to request assistance. Messages can be left at any time. Thanks to a partnership between the Legal Aid Society and the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services, calls to the hotline can be translated into many languages.

The hotline will remain active so long as there are Tennesseans who need assistance.

BACKGROUND
The disaster legal services hotline is a toll-free line that allows callers to request the assistance of a lawyer following a federally declared disaster. The type of legal assistance available through the hotline includes:

  • Assistance with FEMA and other government benefits for disaster victims;
  • Assistance with life, medical and property insurance claims;
  • Help with home repair contracts and contractors;
  • Replacement of wills and other legal documents destroyed in the disaster;
  • Assisting in consumer protection matters, remedies and procedures;
  • Counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems; and
  • Counseling on landlord/tenant problems

Victims who qualify for assistance are matched with lawyers who have volunteered to provide free legal help.

The hotline established after May's flooding is a partnership between the Tennessee Bar Association, the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and seven other legal organizations in the state. It is supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (ABA YLD). Partners include:

The Legal Aid Society
Memphis Bar Association
Memphis Area Legal Services
Nashville Bar Association
Tennessee Association for Justice
Tennessee Justice Center
West Tennessee Legal Services Inc.

HOTLINE CALLS BY TOPIC

as of 8/16/10

Topic Number of Calls
Landlord/Tenant 125
Insurance 102
FEMA Benefits 53
Consumer Protection 50
Real Estate/Mortgage/Foreclosure 49
Local Government/Codes/Floodplain 37
Financial Gap 23
Home Owners Associations 13
Employment 11
Other 10
Succession/Wills/ Lost Documents 8
Home Ownership Dispute 7
Benefits 5
Family 4
Tax 4
Bankruptcy 2
Criminal/Fraud 1
Immigration 1

 

HOTLINE CALLS BY COUNTY

as of 8/13/10

County Number of Calls
Benton 3
Carroll 2
Cheatham 13
Davidson 345
DeKalb 1
Dickson 4
Dyer 1
Gibson 1
Giles 57
Hamilton 1
Hardin 4
Haywood 1
Hickman 3
Lauderdale 1
Lewis 1
Madison 3
Marshall 1
Maury 3
McNairy 3
Montgomery 7
Robertson 2
Rutherford 22
Shelby 42
Stewart 1
Sumner 9
Tipton 1
Wayne 2
Williamson 8
Wilson 5

 


The Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) is the largest professional association in Tennessee with more than 13,000 members. Founded in 1881, the TBA provides opportunities for continuing legal education, professional development and public service. The TBA’s dedication to serving the state’s legal community is evidenced by its membership roll, which represents the entire spectrum of legal practice: plaintiff and defense lawyers, corporate counsel, judges, prosecutors, public defenders, government lawyers and legal services attorneys.

For More Information

Stacey Shrader Joslin
Tennessee Bar Association
(615)277-3218
221 Fourth Ave. N., Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37219

Additional Information

About legal assistance

Individuals affected by recent storms and flooding can get more information about legal assistance here

Lawyers interested in helping storm victims with legal issues can sign up here

Lawyers helping disaster victims can find resources here