After admitting its equipment was the “probable” cause of the Camp Fire, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) sought to increase rates for California households for natural gas and electric service. According to PG&E, the rate hike request was based in part to ensure the safety of the public. However, the Governor’s office had a different take on the request. A spokesman for Gov. Newsom’s office told the Sacramento Bee that PG&E was requesting massive rate increases to generate profits for investors while wildfire victims had to wait in bankruptcy. PG&E filed for bankruptcy relief under Chapter 11 in January of this year.
In May, state investigators confirmed that it was PG&E’s electrical transmission lines that caused the Camp Fire. The confirmation that the Camp Fire was started by PG&E equipment was expected. The giant utility company was expecting the outcome of the investigation when it filed for bankruptcy relief in January, claiming that it would have billions of dollars in uninsured claims related to the 2018 California wildfires and wildfires in 2017, including the Redwood fire.
PG&E has been blamed for causing 18 fires in 2017, 12 of which have been referred for possible criminal prosecution. The report regarding the Camp Fire also determined there were violations of law and the matter had been forwarded to the Butte County district attorney’s office for review.
Sadly, the Camp Fire became the worst natural disaster in the world during 2018. The fire that consumed 153,000 acres in Butte County and destroyed most of the town of Paradise left thousands of people homeless. Nineteen thousand structures were destroyed because of the fire. While it may be of some relief to victims to have a definite answer regarding the cause of the Camp Fire, that does not mitigate the fact that they must now work through the bankruptcy court to receive some compensation for their injuries, losses, and damages.
What Do You Need to Know About the PG&E Bankruptcy Case?
PG&E is now protected by the provisions of Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. When the utility company filed for bankruptcy relief in January, all wildfire lawsuits were placed on hold. Victims of the California wildfires caused by PG&E must now file claims through the bankruptcy court instead of seeking relief through the courts.
The bankruptcy court has set a deadline for filing wildfire claims. The deadline for filing proofs of claim, including claims by Fire Claimants and Wildfire Subrogation Claims, is October 21, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. After that date, the bankruptcy court will not permit any further claims to be submitted. Victims and their attorneys argued for a longer deadline, but PG&E was able to persuade the bankruptcy court to set a shorter deadline for filing claims.
Wildfire victims must complete and file a Proof of Claim form with the bankruptcy court or their claim against PG&E for damages caused by the wildfires can be barred. The Proof of Claim should be accompanied by detailed documentation of all losses and damages being claimed. PG&E will likely begin a massive advertising campaign to entice fire victims to file their claims directly with the company. Victims who have attorneys should contact their lawyers above filing bankruptcy claims instead of attempting to file claims with PG&E or the bankruptcy court.
Contact a California Wildfire Attorney Now to Discuss Your Claim
If you have not contacted a California wildfire attorney, it is in your best interest to do so immediately. Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases are complex. Failing to file claims or other documentation before the deadline results in the loss of legal rights. Failing to provide required documentation and evidence of damage can result in receiving much less than your claim is worth.
A PG&E wildfire claims attorney can help you complete your Proof of Claim, gather evidence and documentation related to damages, and file your claim with the bankruptcy court. A Tort Claimants Committee (TCC) has been appointed by the bankruptcy judge to help give a voice to fire victims within the Chapter 11 bankruptcy case.
Attorney Thompson represents one of the 11 persons on the TCC, which allows him to participate in TCC meetings. If you have questions about Camp Fire claims or other claims for other Northern California Wildfires, Attorney Thompson can explain the process of filing claims in the Chapter 11 case and steps you need to take to protect yourself.
Time is NOT on Your Side! You Need to Act Now to Protect Your Legal Rights Regarding a Camp Fire Claim
The filing of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy case significantly shortens the period in which wildfire victims must file claims for injuries and damages. Instead of working through the courts with normal statutes of limitations for personal injury claims, victims and their families just now work within the short deadlines of the bankruptcy court to seek compensation for the incredible pain, suffering, and loss caused by PG&E’s negligence and wrongdoing.
The Thompson Law Office continues to monitor the progress of the PG&E Chapter 11 bankruptcy case closely to protect the legal rights of our clients. We want to help you if you have sustained injuries or damages because of the California wildfires caused by PG&E.
If you have questions, please contact Thompson Law Office to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Bobby Thompson to discuss filing a wildfire injury claim. Call 1-650-513-6111 to schedule an appointment or request additional information.