Last year, California experienced the most destructive and deadly wildfire season in history. Today, areas of California are once again being ravaged by wildfires that are threatening both lives and property. The good news is that legal help is available for those in need through a variety of state resources.
California residents can seek legal help through various state organizations, often for low or no cost. The State Bar of California is a great resource for finding legal help with issues relating to the California wildfires. California Disaster Legal Services also offers free legal help for victims of disasters in the state, including the current wildfires.
Legal help for California wildfire victims takes many forms, with resources available for nearly any legal issue raised by the wildfires. First and foremost, California wildfire survivors may be eligible for various forms of federal aid or government benefits through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), state agencies, or non-profit community groups. In addition to monetary aid, these organizations often offer shelter, food assistance, unemployment help, or crisis and medical counseling following disasters.
A lawyer can help you determine what forms of assistance you’re eligible for and what aid is being offered in your area. Often there are time limits for when you can file for such assistance, so it’s wise to seek out legal help as soon as possible after you’ve suffered any kind of loss.
Beyond seeking federal or local aid, victims of the California wildfires may need legal help with a variety of matters, some of which might not be as immediately obvious as others. You should consider seeking out legal help if you’re dealing with any of the following issues as a result of the California wildfires:
- Filing insurance claims, including property, medical, or life insurance claims
- Replacing important documents that have been lost in the fire, including driver’s licenses or other identification, marriage licenses, birth certificates, or wills
- Handling landlord-tenant disputes if your housing has been disrupted by the wildfires;
- Home repair or contractor issues stemming from fire damage to your home
- Mortgage or foreclosure issues if your home has been damaged beyond repair
- Consumer protection matters stemming from the wildfires
- Unemployment claims if the wildfires have left you without work
If you’re struggling in any way following the California wildfires, you should consider seeking out a legal consultation to find out if your rights need protecting.
As with any legal matter, however, it’s important to make sure the assistance you’re being offered is legitimate. Unfortunately, fraud is something you always need to look out for, and there will be people looking to prey on victims when they’re most vulnerable, even in the midst of disasters like the California wildfires.
Before accepting any legal help, always research your potential attorney’s record to verify that they are in fact licensed to practice law in California and have not been subject to disciplinary proceedings. It’s also important to understand that there are certain things lawyers or their representatives are not allowed to do, including soliciting clients at accident scenes or hospitals or promising specific outcomes from legal representation. If you believe that someone is improperly offering legal help to California wildfire victims or that an attorney is acting inappropriately, reach out to the State Bar of California with your concerns.
The California wildfires have been devastating for many, but legal help is available. Finding the right help today is the first step to getting back on your feet