Free legal assistance is now available to low-income survivors of the Sevier County wildfires who need help with home repair contracts, counseling on landlord-tenant issues or assistance with life, medical and property insurance claims.
Survivors who can’t afford to hire a lawyer for their disaster-related legal issues will be matched with Tennessee lawyers who have volunteered to provide free legal help.
Legal assistance can include:
- help securing FEMA and other government benefits available to disaster survivors
- replacement of wills and other important legal documents lost or destroyed in the disaster
- assistance with consumer protection issues such as price gouging and avoiding contractor scams during rebuilding
- counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems
Federal disaster assistance is available to eligible individuals and households affected by the Nov. 28 to Dec. 9 wildfires in Sevier County.
The legal helpline to connect disaster survivors with legal aid providers is 844-435-7486. Phone lines are open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Callers will be directed to an extension created specifically for wildfire-related legal assistance. They can leave a message and the call will be returned by a volunteer attorney.
Callers may also visit Help4TN.org for resources and other information as it becomes available.
Legal Aid of East Tennessee plans to hold a clinic on Monday, Jan. 23 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Courtyard Gatlinburg, 315 Historic Nature Trail in Gatlinburg.
Individuals who qualify for assistance will be matched with Tennessee lawyers who have volunteered to provide free, limited legal help. Assistance is not available for cases that will produce a fee; for example, those cases in which attorneys are paid part of the settlement by a court. Such cases are referred to a local lawyer referral service.
Consultations with attorneys are confidential.
Legal services are provided by FEMA partners, including the Tennessee Bar Association, Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services, the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and the National Disaster Legal Aid Online.