LAET 2019-06-11T14:09:05+00:00

Welcome to Legal Aid of East Tennessee

Click HERE to donate now.

Natural disasters cost the country $91 billion in 2018, according to a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The economic losses are due to 14 different natural disasters, ranging from hurricanes to wildfires to winter storms, but still 41% of Americans say they are not prepared for a disaster.  Legal Aid of East Tennessee has put together the following guide for COMMON LEGAL PROBLEMS FACED BY DISASTER SURVIVORS.


  • I am planning to hire a contractor to make repairs on my home. Do I have to have a written contract for the work? If so, what information should be in the contract?
  • How can I find out whether the contractor is licensed and insured?
  • What should I do if the contractor has not performed the work or if I am having trouble getting the contractor to start the work or complete the work as agreed?
  • How do I make sure the contractor has pulled the proper permits for the work?
  • How can I make sure the repairs have passed city inspection (comply with city code)?
  • What should I do if I am not satisfied with the repair work?


  • If I have a loan related to property destroyed by the fire, do I have to continue to make payments on the loan?
  • What should I do if I can’t pay my debts because of the fire?
  • What should I do if I have been sued or am being been threatened with suit on my debt?
  • What can I do if my car has been repossessed due to the fire? What should I do if the lender is threatening to repossess my car?


  • Someone has offered to help me get money from my insurance company faster if I pay them a fee. Is this a scam?
  • Should I submit a claim with my insurance company? How do I do that?
  • What can I do if my insurance company denied coverage? If I think the amount the insurance company is offering to pay is unfair?
  • What if my insurance company won’t pay for the damage to my vehicle?
  • What if my insurance company won’t pay for a rental car because my car was damaged or a total loss?


  • Will I have any income tax deductions because of the loss of my personal property?
  • Will I have to pay income tax on any money I receive because of the fire?
  • If I had a business loss because of the fire will I have to pay business taxes?


  • Am I entitled to receive any government benefits/payments because of the fire?
  • What can I do if my application for government benefits was denied? If I am unhappy with the amount of benefits I received?
  • I received a notice of overpayment (or recoupment). What should I do?
  • I need help getting disaster


  • I lost my job due to the What are my rights?
  • Can I get unemployment benefits?
  • My application for unemployment benefits was denied. What can I do?
  • The amount of the unemployment compensation I received is not What can I do?
  • I have not received my What should I do?


  • I need help replacing a driver’s license, Social Security card, or EBT
  • I need help replacing immigration


  • My rental unit needs repairs, but my landlord is not making the What can I do?
  • My rental unit was destroyed or is so damaged that it’s not safe to live What are my rights? Is the landlord required to provide me with somewhere else to live? Do I have to keep paying rent?
  • I need help working with my
  • I need help getting a security deposit
  • I am having problems with the renters’ insurance company (see insurance above).
  • I prepaid rent on a house or apartment that has been What are my rights?
  • I have been discriminated against for housing because of my race, color, religion, national origin, gender, familial status, or medical What should I do?
  • I have a medical condition that requires me to use a wheelchair ramp, to need a handicap shower, or requires other special What should I do?
  • I am being treated differently because I’m a victim of domestic violence
  • I need a support animal but animals are not allowed where I live or want to What can I do?


  • See Consumer/Contractor Issues section
  • I own a house with a mortgage, but I am having trouble paying the mortgage because of the fires. What are my options?
  • I need help working with the mortgage
  • I was in the process of buying or selling a house at the time of the What can I do if the property was damaged or destroyed? If I no longer want to buy or sell the property?


  • What are my options if I lost my housing due to the disaster but would like for my children to remain at their old school?
  • What can I do if I am having trouble registering my children at their old school or at a new school?
  • What are my options if I am having trouble with transportation to get my children to and from school?


  • What are my options if the child support or alimony I was receiving or paying is too high or too low because of the fire?
  • My children are living with a different parent or relative because of the What are my rights and responsibilities in this situation?
  • I need to move more than 50 miles with my children because of the Can I do this?
  • I need to let someone else temporarily take care of my children because of the What do I need to do?

These are common legal problems experienced by those affected by a disaster. However, there are many other legal problems that can occur. If you are a disaster survivor with a legal problem, please call Legal Aid of East Tennessee at 865-637-0484 or visit our website at www.laet.org.

Prepared by Legal Aid of East Tennessee (865) 637-0484



Strengthening communities and changing lives through high-quality legal services


An East Tennessee where justice is a community value and no one faces a legal problem alone

Support Us!

Donate To LAET

Free, Easy Online Application for Services


This free program lets you apply for help from Legal Aid of East Tennessee. We help low-income East Tennesseans, seniors, and persons with disabilities with legal issues.
If you think you are in immediate danger, call 911 right away!

If you need to contact Legal Aid of East Tennessee, you may call any of our other offices listed below:


607 W Summit Hill Dr. SW
Knoxville, TN 37902


535 Chestnut St., Ste. 360
Chattanooga, TN 37402
(423) 756-4013
Toll Free (800) 572-7457 

Johnson City

311 W. Walnut St.
Johnson City, TN 37604
(423) 928-8311
Toll Free (800) 821-1312


391 Broad St. NW, Suite 202
Cleveland, TN 37311
(423) 303-2266
Toll Free (800) 572-7457


307 Ellis Ave.
Maryville, TN 37801
(865) 981-1818


1001 W. 2nd North St.
Morristown, TN 37814
(423) 587-4850
Toll Free (800) 821-1309

Family Justice Center

(Family Violence Issues)
400 Harriet Tubman
Knoxville, TN 37914
(865) 215-6830

Family Justice Center

(Family Violence Issues)
5705 Uptain Road
Chattanooga, TN 37411
(423) 643-7600

Johnson City
Family Justice Center

(Family Violence Issues)
196 Montgomery St.
Johnson City, TN 37604
(423) 722-3720

Branch House
(Sullivan County)

Family Justice Center

(Family Violence Issues)
313 Foothills Dr
Blountville, TN 37617
(423) 574-7233

Health Law Partnership

(Erlanger Patients)
975 E. 3rd Street, Box #375
Chattanooga, TN 37403
(423) 778-7807

If you are a victim of domestic violence and are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.

You may seek an Order of Protection if you are a victim of domestic abuse or violence.
Contact your county’s Circuit Court or General Sessions Court Clerk’s office.
You should also contact law enforcement.