Disaster Relief Hotline: The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division, in conjunction with the ABA Young Lawyers Section and Federal Emergency Management Agency, is working to activate the Disaster Relief Hotline, 1-866-550-2929, to provide basic civil legal services for people who cannot otherwise afford representation.
Florida Free Legal Answers: an online advice clinic to match low-income Floridians with licensed attorneys who can answer basic legal questions. Due to Hurricane Ian, the ABA has approved a temporary increase of the qualifying cap so that Floridians under the 400% of the Federal Poverty Level can access the site and post questions relating to the hurricane. Find out more here.
Legal Aid Assistance: The Florida Bar Foundation created the Florida Hurricane Legal Aid Fund for civil legal assistance for Floridians affected by a hurricane that makes landfall in Florida.
Mass Disaster Consumer Pamphlet: The Florida Bar’s consumer pamphlet for victims of mass disasters provides guidance for consumers on who to contact for legal assistance and how to protect their legal rights (En español aquí). The Bar also has pamphlets on homeowners’ insurance and rights and duties of tenants and landlords that could offer important information to people affected by the storm.
Legal complaints: If you feel you have been unfairly treated by a lawyer, contact The Florida Bar’s Attorney Consumer Assistance Program (ACAP) at 866-352-0707. The Florida Bar is responsible for prosecuting unethical lawyers for sanctions to be imposed by the Supreme Court of Florida.
Price gouging: State law prohibits extreme increases in the price of essential commodities, such as food, water, hotels, ice, gasoline, lumber and equipment, needed as a direct result of an officially declared emergency. Anyone who suspects price gouging during this declared state of emergency should report it to the Attorney General’s Office by calling 866-9-NO-SCAM. Here is a page with frequently asked questions about price gouging.
Unlawful solicitations: Florida citizens should use caution and good judgment in any emergency, particularly when dealing with representatives of insurance companies or direct contact from lawyers. Any contact by a lawyer or a lawyer’s representative in person or by telephone asking to handle a specific case is a direct violation of The Florida Bar’s disciplinary rules, unless the injured party has requested contact from the lawyer. Florida Bar rules also prohibit lawyers from writing or emailing within 30 days of an accident unless they have been specifically asked to provide information. To report an unlawful contact, call The Florida Bar at 866-352-0707.
Unlicensed practice of law: Only a lawyer can give legal advice and provide legal services. If you believe that an individual or business has engaged in the unlicensed practice of law, call The Florida Bar at 850-561-5840.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): People who have sustained property damage as a result of the severe storms and flooding are urged to register with FEMA, as they may be eligible for federal and state disaster assistance. Applicants may also call 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585 (TTY) from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
After a storm, FEMA may open Disaster Recovery Centers to assist people and businesses in the recovery process. Register with FEMA before visiting a recovery center. A FEMA app is available for Apple and Android mobile devices. Learn how to file your claim.
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA): Low-interest disaster loans from the SBA are available for eligible applicants. SBA helps businesses of all sizes (including landlords), private nonprofit organizations, homeowners, and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or damaged personal property. Disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries. For more information, call SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or 800-877-8339 (TTY), send an email, or visit the SBA’s website.