When faced with a disaster situation, you may find yourself in need of a lawyer to answer questions. Here are some guidelines to help you determine when you need to seek professional advice and if so, whom you should call.
When You Need a Lawyer for Your Art Business
Was your home damaged in a disaster?
Generally, if you have a mortgage, you must continue payments even if the home is uninhabitable. Check with your lender. Many will offer a grace period allowing delayed payments.
You could use this grace period to consult an attorney, determine your options and prepare a plan. you may be able to find a solution by reorganizing your assets through bankruptcy.
Pursue aid programs through organizations like FEMA to obtain funds to continue paying your mortgage. The Department of Housing & Urban Development Agency (HUD) has a listing of housing resources.
There are similar issues if you rent. Even if your apartment has been damaged, you typically cannot simply stop paying rent or move out without following certain procedures starting with notice to your landlord. Failure to do so may require you to honor the entire terms of your lease even if you no longer live in the apartment.If your landlord refuses to work with you, it is probably time to seek advice from an attorney.
Do you have insurance coverage for your losses?
If so, it’s important to take the right steps at the right time to improve your chances of a full claim recovery.
Find your insurance policy and review it to determine what is and is not covered.
Contact your insurance agent to start the claim process.
Record the damages with photos or videos. Make lists of damaged items, with values if possible. If you can locate receipts for any of the items, include them.
Take steps to prevent additional damage to your property. Your insurance policy may limit you to partial claim recovery or no recovery if avoidable damage occurred after the disaster.
Has the disaster affected your ability to produce contracted artwork?
A disaster may destroy a work in progress, rendering you unable to complete a particular commission on schedule. There are a couple of ways to protect yourself from liability for breaching this agreement.
As a best case scenario, you have a written contract that includes a “force majeure” provision that excuses either party from liability if they cannot perform due to a disaster or other uncontrollable event.
If you did not have this in your contract, you should immediately inform the other party of the anticipated delay and work to negotiate an amended agreement. You may need to involve a lawyer to ensure the amended language is sufficient and/or to help with negotiation.