After the Camp Fire: Your Options for Compensation
The Camp Fire has devastated communities throughout Butte County, destroying homes and scorching landscapes. If you or a loved one have been impacted by the Camp Fire, we understand that this may be an incredibly trying time for you.
At Panish, Shea and Boyle, LLP, we understand the seriousness of wildfires, and we are committed to providing you help the best we can. If you are seeking compensation, here are some options that may aide you through the recovery process.
Homeowners Insurance Can Provide Significant Compensation in the Event of a Wildfire
Your homeowners’ insurance is the first place you look for compensation for any wildfire losses. Generally, most standard insurance plans include fire insurance coverage – it is typically covered under the “named perils” in your plan. This coverage usually includes:
- The entirety of the house, minus the foundation
- Your belongings in the house
- Any assets in your general property. This may include landscaping projects such as fences, along with detached structures such as sheds and garages.
If your house has been completely destroyed, your insurance may offer the option to replace your home completely rather than rebuild in the same location.
Consider Your Additional Living Expenses Coverage
Your homeowners’ insurance may also provide compensation for any incidental costs as a result of the disaster. This is known as “additional living expenses” or “loss of use” coverage, and it can cover your expenses while you are displaced from your home. This commonly covers costs for food, clothing, and shelter, but also provides coverage for other incidentals, such as:
- Additional mileage and travel as a result of displacement
- Any utilities paid in your temporary housing
- Any storage fees
- Pet boarding
- Additional furnishings in your temporary home
It is important to note that loss of use coverage usually has a monetary cap that depends on the limit of your homeowners’ coverage. For example, if you are covered by a basic plan (HO-2) policy, your additional living expenses limit is 30 percent of your dwelling limit.
Seek Government Assistance As Soon As Possible
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently opened federal disaster assistance to those impacted by the Camp Fire. These federal grants can help you pay for temporary housing and other expenses as a result of the fire.
If you were affected by the fire, call 1-800-621-3362 or visit www.disasterassistance.gov immediately to start the application process. In order to complete your application, you will be required to give:
- Your Social Security Number
- The address of your damaged/destroyed home
- A detailed description of the damage
- Information about your insurance coverage
- Telephone number
- Mailing address
- Any banking information for direct deposit purposes
The application process usually takes 15-20 minutes to complete. However, processing your application may take time depending on the volume of claims received during this time.
FEMA also recommends visiting any disaster recovery centers that are established during natural disasters. These centers may be able to provide additional assistance.
File a Third-Party Claim Against Parties Responsible for the Camp Fire
Although investigations are still ongoing, preliminary information states that the local utility company, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., may have contributed to the start of the Camp Fire.
Intercepted radio transmissions from the day the fire started claim that a downed power line in Butte County sparked a vegetation fire. Additionally, PG&E told state regulators that they experienced a potential problem on a transmission line at around the same time.
Further, PG&E may have previously declared a planned outage in the area to prevent the outbreak of a wildfire – but did not follow through on their plans.
Although the cause of this fire has yet to be determined, it could be argued that PG&E may have failed to properly maintain their transmission lines, potentially causing the fire. If true, this may be seen as an act of negligence in the eyes of the court – and provide just cause for a lawsuit.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding filing a lawsuit against PG&E and any other responsible parties, please contact us today. At Panish Shea and Boyle LLP, our attorneys have decades of experience handling complex wildfire claims, successfully recovering compensation for our clients. We are well-versed in seeking damages via the claims process, and we will not hesitate to file a lawsuit against other companies if they are responsible for your losses.