Disaster Legal Services Benefits
Program DescriptionDisaster Legal Services (DLS) provides legal assistance to low-income individuals who, prior to or as a result of a Presidentially declared major 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 survivors of that disaster.
Legal advice is limited to cases that will not produce a fee (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 includes:
- Help with insurance claims for doctor and hospital bills, loss of property, loss of life, etc.
- Preparing new wills, powers of attorney, and other legal documents lost in the disaster
- Help with home repair contracts and contractors
- Advice on problems with landlords