Legal Aid Society COVID-19 FAQ

Updated as of 4/17/20

Is Legal Aid open? Can I still get help?

To protect our clients and staff, all Legal Aid offices are working remotely. If you have a current case, please reach out to our staff by e-mail or phone. If you are looking for legal help, the best way to get help is to call 1-800-238-1443.

Will Legal Aid Host Free Legal Advice Clinics?

Yes, Middle Tennessee residents facing a civil legal issue, such as questions about housing and renters’ rights, bankruptcy, medical bills, debt collection, domestic violence, applying for SNAP benefits and applying for unemployment benefits can call a dedicated phone number during any of the following times:

  • Wednesday, April 1st, 2020, 4–6 p.m. (call 1.800.238.1443)
  • Thursday, April 2th, 2020, 4–6 p.m. (call 1.800.238.1443)
  • Thursday, April 9th, 2020, 3–4:30 p.m. (call 1.800.238.1443)
  • Saturday, April 11th, 2020, 8:30–11 a.m. (call 1.800.238.1443)
  • Tuesday, April 14th, 2020, 4:30–6:30 p.m. (call 1.800.238.1443)
  • Saturday, April 18th, 2020, 8:30–11 a.m. (call 1.800.238.1443)
  • Tuesday, April 21st, 2020, 4–6 p.m. (call 1.800.238.1443)
  • Thursday, April 23rd, 2020, 3–4:30 p.m. (call 1.800.238.1443)
  • Saturday, April 25th, 2020, 8:30–11 a.m. (call 1.800.238.1443)
  • Monday, April 27th, 2020, 4–6:30 p.m. (call 1.800.238.1443)

Additional times will be open to veterans only, through a partnership with Operation Stand Down, on April 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th from 11:00am to 1:00pm (Call 1.800.238.1443.)

After a short eligibility screening, callers will receive a call from a volunteer attorney within 30 minutes who will be able to offer assistance for their specific questions.

Not sure what is going on? Do you know where you can get questions answered or find reliable information.  

With all the information sources, it is easy to get confused! If you have a simple question about COVID-19, what is happening in Tennessee, and what resources are available, dial 211. It is an available resource 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and may be able to answer your questions and provide reliable and current information.

LAS has created, a webpage about available resources.

I heard the courts were closed. Is my court case still happening?

The Tennessee Supreme Court has suspended in-person court proceedings in most State and local courts since the close of business on Friday, March 13, 2020, through Thursday, April 30, 2020. However, there are some exceptions like order of protection and bond hearings.

If you have questions about a case or what is going on in the courts, call the clerk of the court where the case was filed. Here’s a list of courts by County, click yours to find their contact information:  https://www.tncourts.gov/courts/court-clerks/clerks-list.

For more Information about eviction and rental housing issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, see our page.

Is your court case an emergency or about your safety?

Some court cases where safety or important legal rights are in question, including protection from abuse and child protective cases, will still be scheduled and held during the time the courts are suspended.

Other exceptions to this suspension of in-person court proceedings include, but are not limited to:

  • Cases related to relief from abuse, including but not limited to orders of protection
  • Cases related to statutory order of protection hearings after entry of an ex parte order as necessary to satisfy any due process concerns
  • Cases related to emergency child custody or visitation orders
  • Cases related to the voluntary surrender of parental rights
  • Settlements involving a minor or a person with a disability
  • Cases on petitions for temporary injunctive relief
  • Cases related to emergency mental health order
  • Proceedings related to emergency protection of elderly or vulnerable persons
  • Public health emergencies related to COVID-19

Can my utilities (gas/electricity) be shut off during this time if I can’t pay the bills?

No. Many utility companies have stopped all shut-offs for non-payment in response to COVID-19. On March 13th Piedmont Natural Gas suspended all disconnections for non-payment. Nashville Electric Service (NES) suspended power disconnections for non-payment until May 31. NES will also waive late-fee charges and will absorb credit card fees on behalf of customers during this time.

Contact your local utility company for updates.

If I lose my job because of COVID-19 can I get unemployment?

If you lose or have to leave work because of COVID-19 you may be eligible for unemployment.

The TN Department of Labor will extend unemployment benefits to employees who suddenly find themselves out of work as businesses temporarily cease operations during the pandemic.

The TN Department of Labor is also extending unemployment benefits to those who are quarantined by a physician for COVID-19 and are temporarily away from their job.

To apply for PUA [Pandemic Unemployment Assistance], claimants will need to file an unemployment claim on Jobs4TN.gov or call (844) 224-5818.

Filing online is the fastest, most efficient way to receive your benefits.  Due to high call volume, you will experience extended wait times when applying by phone.

The Tennessee Department of Labor has also published the following https://www.tn.gov/workforce/covid-19.html

Do I have to file my income taxes by April 15, 2020?

The IRS has extended the deadline to file your 2019 personal income taxes to July 15, 2020. They have also extended the deadline to make payments on your 2019 personal taxes until July 15, 2020. https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus

If the IRS is trying to collect taxes from prior years, contact LAS Tennessee Taxpayer Project Hotline at 1-866-481-3669

Tennessee has also extended the deadline to file your 2019 state income taxes to July 15, 2020 – to match the IRS deadline. This also extends the deadline to make payments on your 2019 Tennessee income taxes until July 15, 2020.

Do I have to file my income taxes to receive relief from the Coronavirus relief bill?

As of April 9th, corporate and individual taxpayers looking to file refund claims based on relief in the coronavirus relief bill should wait until the IRS issues specific instructions, according to an agency statement.

How do I get information about things like healthcare, food, childcare, benefits like SNAP or TANF?

Legal Aid has booklets to help you at https://las.org/find-help/self-help-resource-center/legal-help-booklets/.

What do I need to know as a tenant?

• You must still pay rent
• Tenants’ rights have not changed because of COVID-19
• Tenants’ duties have not changed because of COVID-19
• Your landlord cannot lock you out of your place
• Your landlord cannot turn off your electricity or water
• If your landlord wants to evict you, they still must take you to court

Info on COVID-19 and housing changes daily. Please come back to keep
checking for updates. This info was last updated on March 27th. 

Do I have to tell my landlord if I have been diagnosed with COVID-19?

Generally, no. Most lease agreements do not require you to disclose private health concerns. For more information visit, Link to news

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