Editor’s Note: State Bar of Texas President Tom Vick sent the following message to members today.
As I write these words, many Texans are suffering the ravages of Hurricane Harvey and many are still in harm’s way. This is a trying time for our state and our country. This is a time when mere words fail and action is demanded. So this is a call to action.
First, the State Bar is connecting Texas lawyers who have been adversely affected by the storm with other lawyers who are able to assist them with needs including temporary housing, office space, and cleanup services. If you have been adversely affected or wish to assist a colleague, please take a moment to complete our Hurricane Harvey assistance survey.
Second, if you would like to donate money to the hurricane relief effort in Texas, you can give through the Texas Bar Foundation by clicking here. All donations collected through this effort will go to benefit the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Third, we are matching attorney volunteers to disaster-related service opportunities. If you are an attorney who wants to help by giving brief advice, limited-scope service, or full representation to Harvey survivors, please complete the form at texasbar.com/attorneyvolunteer. Texas law students and paralegals are also encouraged to volunteer.
Other items of interest:
Disaster relief resources
When disasters strike Texas, the State Bar serves as a clearinghouse for disaster response resources for the public and attorneys. The State Bar of Texas legal hotline—(800) 504-7030—helps people find answers to basic legal questions and connects them with local legal aid providers following declared disasters. Please help us by sharing the hotline number and the public resources available at texasbar.com/disasters. Disaster resources designed specifically for attorneys can be found here.
HB 1774 regarding insurance claims
We have received questions about a bill passed during the latest Texas legislative session that changes the law as it applies to lawsuits relating to certain property insurance claims, including property damage and loss caused by natural disasters. The new law, House Bill 1774, applies to insurance claims and lawsuits filed on or after September 1, 2017. It requires certain pre-lawsuit notices by property owners, changes the amount of interest payable on claims that are determined to be underpaid or paid late, and may affect the amount of attorneys’ fees recoverable in a lawsuit. This change was covered in the Dallas Morning News and the Houston Chronicle.
Emergency suspension of court proceedings
In case you missed the email the State Bar sent yesterday, the Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals have issued an emergency order authorizing modification and suspension of court procedures in proceedings affected by Hurricane Harvey. The order, which is effective through September 27 unless the courts extend it, is available here.
Multiple Texas courts and clerks’ offices are closed due to Hurricane Harvey. Visit the Court Closures & Delays page on the Office of Court Administration website for details.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected. We are here to serve you in any way possible.
President, State Bar of Texas