In the last two weeks, our country has experienced a range of natural disasters. Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc in Houston damaging more than 300,000 homes, and Hurricane Irma slammed large parts of Florida leaving 57% of the state still without power. Meanwhile, on the West Coast, several massive blazes and forest fires have erupted, affecting from Seattle to Los Angeles. After events like these, we all crave normalcy and we want to rebuild, but where do we start? Here is a list of documents you might need and questions you can ask a lawyer to initiate the process of moving forward.
Ask a lawyer about:
Filing an insurance claim
If you’re a home or business owner whose property has been affected by a hurricane or natural disaster, you need to file an insurance claim. You can Ask a Lawyer to help you navigate this process and understand your insurance policy.
Updating your estate planning documents
It’s always wise to keep your estate planning documents up-to-date, but what happens after hurricanes or fires? If your records were lost or otherwise destroyed, an attorney can guide you through next steps.
Recovering lost wages after a disaster
If you were unable to go to work during a hurricane or any other disaster, you need to see if your employer is going to pay for lost time. Whether you’re hourly, salaried, or self-employed, your state government likely offers what’s known as DUA or Disaster Unemployment Assistance. If you lost your job because of the storm or if you need to file for unemployment, an attorney can help explain your options.
How do you file claims with FEMA?
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the agency that coordinates the State’s response to disasters. FEMA helps people who do not have insurance. The claims process can be complex, so asking a lawyer will help make things easier.
Do you have to pay rent if you had to evacuate your home?
Depending on your state laws, you might not be obligated to pay rent or cleaning fees if you had to abandon your rental. A local lawyer can help determine if this is the case in your situation.
Helpful documents for disaster recovery
After Harvey and Irma, you might find yourself housing unexpected tenants. If you’re renting out a room in your house, put things in writing and make sure everyone knows the arrangement. A quick room rental agreement will help set the conditions.
If you need to start repairs on your home, make sure the work is covered by a contract. Our Independent Contractor Agreement allows you to set the price and payment schedule for work performed on a property and can be created by either the homeowner or the contractor.
If you can’t figure out why your insurance claim was denied or if you want a more in-depth explanation, you have a right to it. This document can help you make sure that you’re getting a fair deal.
The road to recovery can be long and burdensome. Regardless of where you are in the process, know that we are here to help. We’ve been so moved by the stories of those impacted by the storm, including Leigha from Florida, who called us and found the legal document that she needed to deal with the aftermath of Irma. Read about her experience.