Wednesday, 22 December 2021

The LMICK Minute - Special Edition #2

Posted in Newsletters

As recovery efforts continue across Western Kentucky, our staff is still working to reach out directly to our insureds in the area. For those we have connected with so far, you have shared stories of resiliency and optimism in the face of heartbreaking loss. On behalf of the LMICK staff, Board, and policyholders, our thoughts are with each of you and we share in your hope. LMICK will be here for you throughout the weeks to come.

Law Practices Directly Impacted

LMICK is here to support our insureds impacted by the tornado outbreak. For those practices with direct damage, you may have an ethical obligation to communicate with clients the potential loss of files as well as a potential breach of confidentiality due to the loss. We are developing a template letter for you to send to clients if client files were damaged or destroyed and will send this—as well as resources from the American Bar Association—to our insureds, next week. If you have an immediate need for these resources, or if you have questions or concerns related to your law practice recovery, please contact us at 502-568-6100.

Additional Issues for Attorneys Following a Disaster

  • Attorneys considering pro bono opportunities related to the disaster response will want to ensure they have liability coverage for those cases. For covered attorneys, review your policy and contact your carrier to confirm the scope of coverage for pro bono work before accepting any cases.

    If you are not covered for pro bono or volunteer activities under your policy—or if you do not currently have coverage—you may still be able to volunteer with legal aid organizations if they are able to offer you coverage for the cases you accept on their behalf. The additional advantage of volunteering through legal aid programs is the access to their expertise in areas of law you may be less familiar with. When volunteering, ask the organizations if you are covered, the scope of the coverage, any time restrictions on coverage, and any training resources they can share to ensure the best result for your client as well as the best protection for yourself.

    You can also review our Resources for Volunteer Attorneys on our website for additional support when responding to a disaster, including links to the free CLE course from the Practicing Law Institute (PLI): Current and Emerging Issues in Disaster Response: Legal Strategies and Practices for Helping Survivors. The course includes information for navigating the FEMA application and appeals process and other considerations for clients following a disaster.

  • The KBA has activated the Disaster Response Plan. The KBA’s press releaseoutlines the restrictions on communications with victims of a disaster, including KRS 21A.300 which makes direct solicitation of victims or victim’s relatives a Class A misdemeanor. We recommend reviewing the press release for the restrictions outlined by the KBA as well as SCR 3.130(7.60) and the Supreme Court Rules for Advertising before engaging in any marketing related to the disaster response.

  • The Graves County Circuit and District Courts remain closed until an alternative site can be established. No filings will be accepted in person or via eFiling for Graves County. Additional information can be found on the Court of Justice Western Kentucky Tornado Damage website.

Attorney Disaster Relief Volunteer Opportunities

As seen in the timeline below from Disaster Legal Aid, communities impacted by the tornadoes will need assistance with legal issues related to the tornado damage for weeks and months to come. The Kentucky Legal Aid Society has already been on the ground addressing emergency issues and sharing information about their services (click here for the Spanish language version).

Kentucky Legal Aid Society has also volunteered to host the ABA Disaster Legal Services Program hotline once it is up and running. The ABA program will assist with legal issues connected to the Western Kentucky tornado disaster and will likely require volunteer attorneys once systems are in place. We will share more information about the program and how you can help once it is available.


Donations and Other Support

Organizations continue to accept donations to support relief efforts. The Kentucky Justice Association announced the Kentucky Strong Disaster Relief Fund where 100% of the donations will be used to help those impacted by the disaster. Other ways to give include:

FEMA Deadline for Individual Applications

If you or someone you know has been impacted by the December 10-11, 2021 tornados, an important deadline for the FEMA Individuals and Household Program is currently set for February 11, 2022. However, officials encourage applicants to submit their applications as quickly as possible. Additional information can be found on the December 10, 2021 Kentucky Disaster webpage or, where appropriate, you can share the Kentucky Legal Aid Disaster Response Information.

Continuing to Take Care of Your Mental Health

In our last regular LMICK minute, we acknowledged the increased stress during the holidays and provided resources for taking care of yourself. Now, many of you are also experiencing trauma from directly experiencing the worst tornado event in Kentucky history. Others of you may experience secondary trauma exposure from seeing the damage, hearing survivor stories, or assisting clients in the recovery. It is important to recognize the impact these events can have on you and take time to care for your own mental health this season.

KYLAP continues to provide confidential support to attorneys struggling with suicide, substance use issues, and financial issues. If you or an attorney you know is in need of support, please call 502-226-9373 or visit www.kylap.org.

In January, KYLAP will also provide a four-week series focused on building support among peers and encouraging practices to maintain good mental health. Registration will open on Wednesday, January 5, 2022, and members will receive an email invitation to register.

We are grateful for each of you and look forward to continuing to serve your practice as our own.