How to Find a Lawyer When You Need One

6a0133f3fc5805970b0153923a7018970b-200wiSome of the toughest calls I get from family child care providers are the ones like these:

* A parent breaks her wrist falling on a child care provider’s icy front steps. The parent has no health insurance and the child care provider is worried that the parent will sue her.

* A parent falsely accuses the son of a child care provider of inappropriately touching her daughter. Child care licensing notifies the child care provider that they are taking away her license. The child care provider is a single mother and can’t afford an attorney.

* A child care provider gets a letter from a lawyer notifying her that she is being sued for injuries suffered by a child in her program ten years earlier.

In all of these situations the child care provider needs advice from a lawyer, but usually can’t afford one.

Here are some suggestions for how to find low-cost legal help:

1) Get business liability insurance! Most of these insurance policies can protect you by hiring a lawyer on your behalf (at no cost to you) to defend against injury claims, licensing actions and parent lawsuits. Check out this family child care insurance directory.

2) If you are low-income your local Legal Services (also called Legal Aid) office may be able to help you or refer you to an attorney.

3) Some lawyers offer limited services pro bono (without cost) to help you sort out legal problems. Contact your local county or state bar association for referrals.

4) If you live in a city that has a law school, you may be able to get free assistance if the school sponsors law clinics.

5) LegalShield is a private company that offers legal insurance for a monthly fee. Their services include contract review, audit help, as well as civil and criminal legal defense.

A child care provider’s best initial defense against injury claims, licensing actions and parent lawsuits is having business liability insurance. I strongly urge everyone to get this insurance.

Image credit: freeclipartnow.com

Legal & Insurance For more information see my book Family Child Care Legal and Insurance Guide.

 



Categories: Legal, Legal & Insurance

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7 replies

  1. Great article Tom! Childcare Providers, Foster parents & Teachers need to take proactive measures before a legal event occurs. This is what a Pre-Paid Legal plan will do. A preventive legal plan will complement other insurance services.

  2. Thanks so much for this, Tom. Most of the liability policies I’ve checked in to DO NOT cover licensing reviews (the process of defending your license, which is what most people would go through), just civil liability or medical claims. West Bend Mutual was the only one I could find that covers it ($2500). In this day and age of growing false accusations, providers ABSOLUTELY need a good liability insurance policy (separate from your homeowner’s insurance is best as those aren’t always explicit). I only found an attorney who handles licensing reviews after 10 hours of searching online, and I did so in a roundabout way. It’s cost $12,000 over the past year to defend myself to DHS against false allegations that weren’t even investigated. Thankfully, the judge admonished the state and county for not investgating throughly, among other things. Unfortunately, I know many other providers who have faced false accusations from Licensing or CPS and weren’t thoroughly investigated (or providers were harassed). Provers: Please read your state’s rules for family child care so you know your rights and can try to protect yourself.

  3. @Hollee. hi! you’ve made very crucial points! i’ve been a childcare provider & foster parent and Exactly the comments you are stating is Exactly why i had and now recommend any provider, foster parent, teacher, or home-based business owner to obtain a Pre-paid legal plan.there would be no need to search for an attorney because the plan is a network of lawyers in various specialties of law. and being accused in the childcare biz or as foster parent or teacher needs to be handled immediately and with experienced representation in my opinion. too many times we think we can handle the situation ourselves or consult with others in the same profession because we believe we are in the right. at certain times this may be ok, but if we think about it, the other side Always use the attorney, so why shouldn’t we do the same. Yes, to retain an attorney is not inexpensive and especially during the times when you need one immediately. So why not have a Pre-paid legal plan already as one of your life event solutions. The legal plan is more than just having your own attorney but offers many other benefits as well. Proactive Prevention is best & costs so much less. click my name to get more info on the Pre-Paid legal plan. thank you for sharing your experience too.

  4. Several years ago I had 2 PrePaid Legal accounts. One for personal the other for business. I cancelled both after 2 years of monthly payments as I (luckily)never used my business one. However, I used my personal one once and while I received an initial consultation up front at no cost, the cost of retaining a lawyer for my case with the prepaid discount was very close to if not the same as had i retained someone outside Prepaid. When I thought of how much money I paid them over the years, I decided to take the chance of finding a lawyer if i ever need one on my own and cancelled with Prepaid. I live in NYC which has 4 lawyers for every 1 resident so the odds of finding a lawyer on the dime is favourable. Business insurance-most definitely! Legal services programs-not so sure but it depends on if it is truly cost effective in the long run and the availability of lawyers in your location I suppose.

  5. These are great tips about the finding lawyer, it is really a great help for us when we need a legal advices most. Sometime because of bad advice we have to loss our profit.

  6. I need a lawyer in the atlanta area for a claim of in jury in my home day care and i do not have a liabilty insurance anymore.

    • I don’t know of the names of lawyers for you. You should contact the Atlanta bar association for a referral to a lawyer. Or, ask your homeowners insurance agent if he/she knows of a lawyer.

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