MSBA Disaster Plan
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Legal Guide for Victims of Mass Disasters- This information is a public service provided by the Maryland State Bar Association and the American Red Cross.

Protecting Your Legal Rights

If you are a disaster victim and are not being represented by a lawyer, the best advice may be to talk to persons you trust before you take action. Members of your family, close business associates or clergy can often recommend a good lawyer.

Public libraries usually have directories with names of lawyers listed by fields of practice, such as negligence, personal injury, property law, and trial practice. More specifically, many counties have lawyer referral programs. To see if your county has a referral service, check you local phone book or call the Maryland State Bar Association at (410) 685-7878 or (800) 492-1964. Also, you may wish to ask for a free copy of two of MSBA's public service brochures entitled, "When You Need a Lawyer" and "Lawyers and Legal Fees".

Be sure to ask for details about the experience and reputation of anyone you are thinking of hiring. Just because a person asks for your legal business does not mean he or she is qualified to give you the legal help you need. You might also want to speak to clients and former clients of the professional and ask whether he or she has been skillful, fair, courteous and energetic in the past. Also, be careful about quickly signing any papers from anyone who promises you a fast payment. Finally, when retaining a lawyer, keep in mind that you are entitled to know how you will be charged for the service.

In the event of a mass disaster, you may call the MSBA Legal Disaster Hotline at (800) 492-1964. During emergencies this Hotline will be manned by volunteer MSBA members. They will offer information and assistance to victims and their families. No referrals for legal services will be given.

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