The Florida Bar will be adding information, resources and as hurricane-related news occurs on this page for Florida Bar members and the public. Follow social media for additional updates and check the Florida Supreme Court’s emergency page for hurricanes.
RESOURCES FOR FLORIDA BAR MEMBERS
Member Benefits: More than a dozen Florida Bar Member Benefit providers offer free trials or initial services for Florida Bar members, including practice resources, legal forms and legal research. This Fastcase webpage lists additional disaster-related resources.
The Florida Supreme Court posts announcements about state court closures on its website in the event of a hurricane or other disaster, so please check the website if an event occurs.
The Florida Office of State Courts Administrator also posts information when a hurricane affects our courts.
LegalFuel: The Practice Resource Center of The Florida Bar has disaster planning information and resources for Bar members collected on one page including links to The American Bar Association disaster response, preparedness, and recovery advice; a LexisNexis publication “Surviving Disasters: Questions and Considerations for Law Firms Preparing Business Continuity Plans;” an after disaster strikes checklist; as well as links to FEMA, DisasterAssistance.gov, and disaster recovery services provided by the Florida Small Business Development Council. Advisors can assist members by phone during regular business hours (866-730-2020) and the live chat feature at LegalFuel.com is active. In addition, members may email for assistance.
RESOURCES FOR FLORIDA CONSUMERS
Florida Free Legal Answers is an online advice clinic to match low-income Floridians with licensed attorneys who can answer basic legal questions.
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. Find out more on the myfloridalegal.com website.
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, please contact 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, please contact The Florida Bar at 850-561-5840.
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.
“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.
FEMA: To assist people and businesses in the recovery process, the Federal Emergency Management Agency may open Disaster Recovery Centers. You can search for centers on FEMA’s website. You should register with FEMA before visiting a recovery center. A FEMA app is available for Apple and Android mobile devices. There are instructions on how to file your claim.
The U.S. Small Business Administration offers disaster assistance in the form of low-interest loans to businesses, renters, and homeowners located in regions affected by declared disasters.
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation provides an insurance resources webpage with useful information and links including consumer alerts, links to other state agencies and hurricane claims data information. Call the insurance consumer hotline 877-693-5236.
FEMA/YLD Disaster Hotline: Message from President Adam White – With landfall of Hurricane Sally in Northwest Florida, we have begun preparations for opening The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Disaster Legal Services Hotline. While we will not launch the hotline until a federal disaster is declared, we do expect that to happen within the coming days. After a hurricane hits, many people need simple advice about how to get their life back in order. All of us want to help in the event of a disaster. Here’s how we can help: sign up to volunteer to answer the questions of hurricane victims on a pro bono basis.
Florida Free Legal Answers: Although attorneys are strongly cautioned against engaging in the solicitation of hurricane victims (which is prohibited by Rule 4-7.18), the Florida Free Legal Answers program offers a relatively easy way to lend your expertise. Sign up to to quickly and easily answer questions from the public. It is easy to do, takes only a couple of minutes and can mean so much to those in need.
Florida Pro Bono Matters is another way to assist Floridians via an interactive website funded by The Florida Bar Foundation — both in hurricane recovery and year-round. You can view descriptions of available pro bono opportunities and indicate an interest in any of them; you then will be contacted by the posting organization with more information.
National Disaster Legal Aid Advocacy Center welcomes all advocates and volunteers from nonprofit legal aid organizations, bar associations, pro bono counsel from law firms and corporations, law school students and faculty, and allied nonprofits working on disaster legal aid. Visit the website to sign up. The website has links to a multitude of disaster relief manuals and training tools.
Government and Other Services
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. People can register online or via smartphone or Web-enabled device at m.fema.gov. Applicants may also call 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585 (TTY) from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
SBA: Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (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, send an email, or visit the SBA’s website. People who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call 800-877-8339.
Florida Governor DeSantis: Announcements on any state of Florida disaster response.
Attorney General Moody: Information on price gouging and other consumer protection issues.
Hurricane Claims Data Information: Check the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation for useful information and links, including consumer alerts, links to other state agencies and hurricane claims data information.