Our mission is to protect the legal rights of people with disabilities through individual and systems advocacy. One way we do that is through legal representation of people with disabilities who have faced discrimination or violations of their rights.
To make the best use of our limited financial resources, we take cases that have the potential to have systemic impact and improve the lives of many people with disabilities. For example, we may pursue a case that will improve education for children with disabilities in an entire school system, not just one classroom.
We also pursue cases that could change how the State of North Carolina provides supports to people with a certain type of disability. Because we are a nonprofit agency independent from state government, we can and do file lawsuits against the State to protect the rights of people with disabilities. Some of the legal complaints we have filed against the State of North Carolina or its agencies include:
- Samantha R. v. State of NC and NC DHHS on the unnecessary institutionalization and segregation of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
- Disability Rights NC v. NC DHHS on the gaps in services for children with complex behavioral health needs.
- Wilson, et al. v. NC Division of Motor Vehicles on discriminatory practices involving the DMV’s Medical Review Program.
Get more information about these cases and others on our Systemic Cases page.
Target Areas of Work
Our legal work is guided by our Targets. Every year, we review the calls we have received to determine which problems are most prevalent and are most profoundly affecting people with disabilities in North Carolina. Using that information, we create our proposed Targets. Then we conduct a statewide survey (distributed through email and social media) to get input from people with disabilities and their family members and advocates.
Once the Targets are finalized and approved by our Board of Directors, we use them to guide our work in protecting the rights of people with disabilities to be fully included in the communities where they live, work, play, and go to school.
We encourage any person with a disability who believes their rights are being violated to call us. Even if your issue does not fall within one of our current Target areas, we may be able to send you helpful self-advocacy resources, refer you to another agency that can help, or match you with a volunteer advocate or attorney.
We do not provide legal representation to most people who call our office. Due to our limited resources, we can take only the cases that we believe have the potential to create systemic change and impact as many people with disabilities as possible. However, we encourage you to call us or fill out our online intake form. Your case could become part of a larger, class action lawsuit. Even if does not, it is important that our organization, as North Carolina’s Protection and Advocacy agency, is aware of the problems facing people with disabilities throughout the state.
Because of the requirements placed on us by our federal grant funders, there are certain types of cases we cannot take. These include:
- Applications or appeals for Social Security or disability benefits (such as SSI or SSDI)
- Applications for Medicaid benefits (We do help with reductions or denials of services.)
- Housing issues that are not related to a disability (such as eviction for failure to pay rent)
- Worker’s compensation
- Divorce, child support and other family law matters
- Wills, trusts and estate planning
- Malpractice and personal injury
- Criminal, probation or parole (unless it involves a child facing criminal charges related to a behavior incident at school)
- Petitions to obtain guardianship of a person with a disability