7 Steps to Filing a Wildfire Claim Against PG&E With the Bankruptcy Court
The Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) filed for bankruptcy in January to restructure its finances. PG&E filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, meaning to reorganize its business affairs, assets and debts. The decision came after lawsuits against PG&E for contributing to multiple devastating wildfires in California. Now, a judge has given victims impacted by the PG&E fires until October 21st, 2019 to file claims against the utility company with the bankruptcy court.
The bankruptcy courts will ask for information from you as a claimant. Collecting this information beforehand can help ensure a smooth and efficient filing process. Gather as much information about your wildfire losses as possible, including proof of property or land loss. You will need your land deed, assessor’s parcel number (APN), homeowners insurance information, and any building or landscaping plans. You should also collect receipts and bank statements for any out-of-pocket losses you incurred during an evacuation, including hotel bills and rental car fees.
Take photographs of your damages. Photographs can help prove the existence and extent of property destruction. It is also important to gather pre-fire photos of your home and property. Collect any photos from your family members of you enjoying your home, the house itself, your yard, landscaping, vehicles, etc. Photographs can establish what your property looked like before the fire. Pictures of family members enjoying the home can also establish emotional losses.
Include Cherished Items
Cherished items hold special or unique emotional value, such as family heirlooms or treasured gifts. Items your family may have passed down through the generations could qualify as cherished items, even if they do not have significant monetary values. When calculating the value of lost cherished items, do not think in terms of dollar value. Instead, include why those items were so important to you and your family. Describe how the loss of cherished items has impacted your life and your legacy. Include a description and story behind each cherished item you lost in a PG&E fire.
Tell Your Story
Transcribe your unique experience onto paper. Write down what happened in detail, expressing how you felt during the evacuation and the aftermath of a wildfire. Describe how the fire impacted your family. It may be difficult to relive a traumatic experience, but it is important to tell your story to complete your claim. Include details such as seeing the fire, smoke inhalation, burn injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder. Explain how the wildfire continues to impact you today.
Do the Math
A lawsuit against PG&E will require you or your lawyer to include a damage amount you are seeking. This amount should summarize all the financial and emotional losses you suffered because of the wildfire. Hire an attorney to help you calculate how much business income, personal income and property you lost because of the fire.
Hire an Attorney to File for You
Although California law does not make hiring an attorney mandatory, doing so could make your bankruptcy claim easier. While your family focuses on healing and rebuilding, your attorney can handle the paperwork on your behalf. A California attorney can answer your questions and give you peace of mind during this difficult time. A lawyer could also significantly increase the value of your claim. A wildfire attorney can use proven tactics to hold PG&E accountable for the full amount of your damages.
File By the Deadline
It is critical to file your claim with the bankruptcy court by the deadline: 5:00 p.m. PST on October 21st, 2019. Hiring an attorney can guarantee you meet this deadline, protecting any right you may have to compensation from a settlement or judgment award. A wildfire lawyer will know how to navigate the claims process efficiently, so you file your claim well before the deadline. Filing early could ensure you are one of the first to receive a payment.