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The PG&E Fire Victim Trust (FVT) is now accepting claims for compensation from three Northern California wildfires: the Butte Fire (2015), North Bay Fires (2017) and Camp Fire (2018). The Fire Victim Trust provides an equitable process to compensate victims for both economic and non-economic damages caused by these fires.
The company reportedly faced billions of dollars of liability from claims filed by fire victims. The company accepted its responsibility in the aforementioned wildfires, saying that faulty equipment played a role in sparking blazes. PG&E Corporation and Pacific Gas and Electric Company jointly filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. The trust was established as part of PG&E’s bankruptcy proceedings.
Funding for the fire victims trust was approved by the Bankruptcy Court to provide compensation to individual wildfire victims, including families and businesses, and certain other parties with wildfire-related claims.
The fire victims suffered a range of losses, including damage to personal property and to real estate. Others suffered physical and emotional injuries, additional living expenses, lost wages, business losses, etc. There were also families who unfortunately lost a loved one in the fires.
In a deal reached last year, fire survivors were promised approximately $13.5 billion paid out in a combination of cash and PG&E stock. However, given the lackluster performance of PG&E shares, the deal is now worth less. The Trust now includes 476,995,175 shares of PG&E Common Stock and the first installment of cash funding of $5.385 billion ($5.4 billion reduced by previous court-ordered advances of $15 million).
The website provides a range of resources to help victims file claims for economic and personal losses arising from the fires. Lawyers and individuals without attorneys may request access to the FVT Portal, through which they can complete a Claims Questionnaire. And while the victims aren’t required to be represented by a burn accident attorney to file a claim, the FVT provided resources to support claimants who require assistance.
On the trust and compensating victims, the FVT’s Claims Administrator Cathy Yanni said: “We recognize that many fire victims have been waiting a long time to receive compensation for the damages they suffered in these tragic fires, and we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that every valid claim is paid out. The questionnaire and other tools now live on the Fire Victim Trust website will greatly enhance our ability to do that.”
The trust will consider these claims for benefits:
Claimants can submit claims for other damages, which will be considered by the trust’s administrators, to determine if they are recoverable per California law or other applicable laws.
To submit a claim, claimants must submit a questionnaire in the fire victims trust portal by Dec. 31, 2020, as well as documentation to support the claim. Examples can include purchase information for the property, tax records, renderings of the property from engineers or architects, pre-fire photos and videos, and post-fire videos.