American Family and other insurance companies use the process of subrogation to recover claim loss payments from the person or entity whose actions or negligence contributed to the incident," American Family Insurance spokesman Steve Witmer said in a statement to 7NEWS. Subrogation is a legal referring to an insurance firm taking legal action in place of its client.
American Family Insurance 2012 American Family Insurance and Colorado State Forest Ser vice Claim Accuses Colorado State Forest Service Of Negligence In Prescribed Burn That Ignited Wildfire. Eight notice of intent to sue claims have been filed against the state of Colorado in the devastating Lower North Fork Fire, which killed three people, destroyed or damage 27 homes, and charred 6 square miles, 7NEWS learned Thursday. Under Colorado law, a "notice of claim" is a required first step toward a lawsuit against a government agency. The claims by a homeowner insurance company and an electrical utility were filed against Colorado State University, which oversees the Colorado State Forest Service. The Forest Service has been the focus of criticism, because it conducted a prescribed burn in the Jefferson County foothills on March 22 that erupted four days later into the wildfire when high winds reignited embers. Claim notices were also served on Denver Water, on whose property the controlled burn was conducted under an agreement with the Forest Service. An independent review of the prescribed burn found that the Forest Service violated its own burn plan by failing to have its firefighters monitor the smoldering field the day before the fire broke out. American Family Insurance and Colorado State Forest Service | www.ourinvesting.com American Family Insurance 2012 The Intermountain Rural Electric Association is seeking damages of more than $1.2 million, saying the fire destroyed its electrical transmission lines and other distribution facilities in the burn area. The IREA claim says the Forest Service's "negligent and/or willful and wanton planning, initiation, conduct, oversight and attempted termination of the prescribed burn resulted in reignition of the burn beyond its containment boundaries." "That reignition resulted in a catastrophic wildfire," the claim said. IREA names nine Forest Service employees, from State Forester Jeff Jahnke down to firefighters directly involved in the prescribed burn. The other seven claims were filed by American Family Insurance, seeking to recover money paid to Conifer-area clients whose homes or personal property were damaged or destroyed by the wildfire. "American Family and other insurance companies use the process of subrogation to recover claim loss payments from the person or entity whose actions or negligence contributed to the incident," American Family Insurance spokesman Steve Witmer said in a statement to 7NEWS. Subrogation is a legal referring to an insurance firm taking legal action in place of its client. "This benefits our customers in two ways -- our customers can be compensated for the sums they previously paid for deductibles, and it helps keep insurance affordable by reducing the costs that are used to calculate insurance rates," Witmer said. 7NEWS checked the addresses for the claims filed by American Family Insurance. Only one of the seven involves a home that was destroyed. American Family Insurance and Colorado State Forest Service | www.ourinvesting.com American Family Insurance 2012 Three of the claims from American Family Insurance involve a residence which was reimbursed for losing power for four days and having freezers at the home turned off and thawed. State Liable For No More Than $600,000 The Colorado Governmental Immunity Act limits the state's legal liability to $150,000 for an individual victim. In the case of multiple victims, the state's total liability is $600,000 an incident. The money is divided among all the victims, legal experts say. The insurance company cited three family members in one claim and two family members in another claim. All the other insurance claims named one victim. Victims Have 6 Months To File "Notice Of Claim" In order to be eligible for any monies that may be paid by the state, victims of the Lower North Fork fire must filed a claim with the state within 180 days of their loss. That puts the timeline in late September. It doesn't matter if the claim is filed first or last, every claim would have an equal shot at receiving a share. "Just because they've made the first claims, they don't get the money," said University of Denver law professor Tom Russell. "Interestingly, the insurance companies seem to be filing claims here before any trial lawyer in the state is filing a claim." Russell is well-versed in Governmental Immunity and 7NEWS asked him if it's possible for the insurance company and IREA to get compensation before anyone who lost loved ones or property. "If you file a notice of claim, you're not guaranteed that you'll get anything," said Russell. "IREA and the insurance companies are American Family Insurance and Colorado State Forest Service | www.ourinvesting.com American Family Insurance 2012 trying to reach into that pot of money before anyone else in the state has tried to reach into that pot of money." Residents Still Looking For Answers At a Wednesday night meeting in Conifer where various officials briefed residents, legal action was on the minds of some angry, frustrated residents. Coe Meyer lost everything in the fire. "I'm really happy that the state acquired all this knowledge from this fire, but we, me, and the people in this room paid the tuition and will for the next 25 years for some of us," Meyer told officials. "I'm not hearing the word, 'liability,' and that's what everybody here has on their mind," Meyer stressed. Also on Wednesday, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said its investigation into the cause and origin of the Lower North Fork Fire had determined that the Forest Service followed or exceeded the parameters set by its controlled burn plan, and that no criminal violation occurred. Yet, Sheriff Ted Mink told 7NEWS he understands fire victims' cries for accountability. "Well, I can understand -- and believe me I can understand – that when you lose a loved one and certainly when you lose everything that you probably value or have ever owned, you want something or somebody …to pay for that," Mink said. "I understand that." "We're not saying that somebody should not be held accountable," Mink said. "All we're saying is there's no criminality that we have come up with." American Family Insurance and Colorado State Forest Service | www.ourinvesting.com American Family Insurance 2012 The legal claims indicate that accountability could be decided in civil court. Source: www.thedenverchannel.com American Family Insurance and Colorado State Forest Service | www.ourinvesting.com
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