It has been two months since Hurricane Harvey caused huge destructions in southern Texas. However, lingering effects such as destroyed property, impact on public health and even insurance issues will not blow over quickly.
After such a catastrophic event, legal needs will continue for years. Affected individuals may need legal assistance long-term, short-term or somewhere in between. Local bar associations and legal-aid organizations throughout the state are maintaining pro bono programs to support private attorneys who volunteer their time to represent low-income Texans on a range of civil legal matters.
The legal system plays a central role in disaster prevention, response, and management. While lawyers, attorneys or other professionals in this industry can rely on legal transcription outsourcing to focus on core tasks, Harvey victims may need legal assistance from these professionals. Check out how you can help them.
Every property owner will likely face months of dealing with insurers, contractors, small-business-loan authorities, the National Flood Insurance Program, FEMA programs, or some combination of these.
After a natural disaster, attorneys can
- aid victims with landlord-tenant questions, assist with insurance claims, and help people apply for flood insurance
- help an individual replace important legal documents such as IDs, driver’s licenses, Social Security cards and deeds
- help those in need with possible evictions, foreclosure prevention, insurance-claim disputes, emergency conservatorships and estate-planning-document replacement
- assist those facing legal issues such as foreclosure, bankruptcy, defending FEMA recoupment, applying for disaster tax relief, and disputing home-damage valuations, within six months and for several years after the event
Shortage of lawyers is also a concern. Dallas News reports that for 8,000 low-income Texans who qualify for free legal services, only one legal aid lawyer is available. To meet this concern, the Texas Supreme Court has also issued an emergency order allowing out-of-state lawyers to practice in the state temporarily to provide pro bono assistance to Hurricane Harvey victims. Though efforts are being made by legal entities to highlight the need to expand access to justice through pro bono civil legal services, more help will be needed to get matters back to original. These busy lawyers can choose a professional legal transcription company to complete their documentation tasks.
The new Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017 passed by the U.S. president also delivers some welcome tax relief to the victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. The new law offers liberalized rules for qualified disaster-related personal losses. It also offers liberalized rules for the tax treatment of IRA and qualified retirement plan distributions made to individuals affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and for retirement plan loans made to these individuals.