CHARLESTON – With 12 counties affected by the floods, Legal Aid of West Virginia is reaching out to help with a range of legal issues.
Through a hotline it has set up in conjunction with the West Virginia State Bar, Legal Aid is offering legal advice, guidance and representation to individuals who fall within the income levels set by its funding. The hotline is staffed by a paralegal that will get callers routed to a Legal Aid attorney or a volunteer attorney working with Legal Aid and the Bar.
“We’re trying to help low and moderate income people with some legal advice and possibly more assistance,” Kate White, access to services manager with Legal Aid, told the West Virginia Record. “The calls are being answered here at Legal Aid, but we’re coordinating with the State Bar to get cases out to attorneys for folks that are over income or even that are income eligible for Legal Aid to get them to one of our attorneys or attorneys that works with us.”
White said a variety of claim issues and legal topics are being discussed on the hotline as well as anticipated by the legal group. Questions surrounding insurance and FEMA are being handled by the organization as well as tenant/landlord issues.
“Most of what we’re seeing so far is insurance questions and FEMA related questions,” White said. “It’s pretty complicated. There are insurance aspects that come up if you have insurance. If you don’t have insurance, you’re getting into FEMA issues. You just want to sure you’re getting all the right deadlines and all the right information.”
When calling the hotline, White recommends being prepared with all the paperwork you have received as well as your financial history.
“Be prepared to talk about the issue you are calling about," she said. "If you are thinking you need more than just some basic advice or guidance, be prepared to talk about your income so we can see if they might be eligible for Legal Aid or if we get them somewhere else. Have any paper work that is associated with your FEMA claim or insurance. Having that information available can make things go faster and help us get the information we need to get people to the right places.”
Staying on top of deadlines and claim dates is imperative as White said they come up quickly and can get overlooked.
“There’s pretty quick deadlines for loss of insurance issues, so paying attention to all the paperwork your getting is important,” White said. “I know people affected by the flood have a lot going on dealing with a multitude of issues, but just be really careful about making sure you’re watching for deadlines on things that you get because a number of things with insurance claims and dealing with FEMA are pretty time sensitive. You don’t want to lose out on any of your rights because you’re not paying attention to the deadline.”
The hotline number is 877-331-4259.