In the wake of the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion, PG&E held a press conference on Monday outlining the $100 million “San Bruno Fund” and initial steps that will be taken to begin compensating for victims of the tragedy in San Bruno. For residents in the affected area, PG&E will provide disbursements of $15,000, $25,000, or $50,000 per household depending on the extent of damage incurred.
Good news for San Bruno explosion victims? Sure. At least in part. One of the fears that I discussed earlier, that PG&E would behave just like its corporate brethren–BP Oil–and use the desperation of victims in order to extract unfair and incomplete settlements, is calmed slightly by this announcement. According to PG&E, victims of the gas explosionwill not be asked to waive any potential claims in order to receive these funds.
At least PG&E is acknowledging that people in the midst of a tragedy such as this are in no position to evaluate the long term effects and costs.
But, and this is a big BUT, even if you are told by PG&E that you are not waiving any rights in order to get an emergency payment, I think you should see a lawyer before meeting with PG&E. Since an insurance company will be the one paying for this, it will be standard procedure for the insurance company representatives to be doing the negotiations. They may not make you waive your rights, but trust me, as an experienced Bay Area personal injury lawyer, you can bet that the insurance adjuster will be interviewing you, making notes and maybe even tape recording everything you say. Any mistaken assumptions or incomplete information you give right after this tragedy, maybe even still in shock, will be used against you when the time comes for a final settlement.
Don’t talk to PG&E without at least talking to a lawyer first. Know your rights!
If you were involved in this incident and have questions as to your rights and options, call a reputable law firm. Do not act solely upon the information provided here. Get a consultation. The best law firms will provide a free confidential consultation and you can proceed knowing your family is being protected.