Title 44

SECTION 295.21

295.21 Allowable compensation.

§ 295.21 Allowable compensation.

(a) Allowable compensation. The CGFAA provides for the payment of compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are “real, substantial and just money damages established by the Claimant in compensation for actual or real injury or loss.” In general, an Injured Person will be compensated for Losses to the same extent that the plaintiff in a successful tort action brought against a private party under the laws of the State of New Mexico would be compensated. In addition the CGFAA permits FEMA to compensate Injured Parties for certain categories of “loss of property,” “business loss,” and “financial loss,” which are enumerated in the CGFAA. Damages must be reasonable in amount. Claimants must take reasonable steps to mitigate (reduce) their damages, if possible, as required by New Mexico tort law.

(b) Exclusions. Except as otherwise provided in the CGFAA, a Claimant will not receive compensation for any injury or damage that is not compensable under the Federal Tort Claims Act and New Mexico law. Punitive damages, statutory damages under § 30-32-4 of the New Mexico Statutes Annotated (1978), interest on claims, attorney's fees and agents' fees incurred in prosecuting a claim under the CGFAA or an insurance policy, adjusting costs incurred by an insurer or other third party with the rights of a subrogee, and taxes that may be owed by a Claimant as a consequence of receiving an award are not recoverable from FEMA. The cost to a Claimant of prosecuting a claim under the CGFAA does not constitute compensatory damages and is not recoverable from FEMA, except as provided in § 295.31(b).

(c) Damages arising in the future. In the event that a lump sum payment is awarded to a Claimant for future damages the amount of the payment will be Discounted to Present Value.

(d) Destruction of home - (1) Home and contents. Compensatory damages for the Destruction of a Home may include the reasonable cost of reconstructing a home comparable in design, construction materials, size and improvements to the home that was lost taking into account post-fire construction costs in the community in which the home existed before the fire and current building codes and standards. Compensatory damages may also include the cost of removing debris and burned trees, stabilizing the land, replacing household contents, and compensation for any decrease in the value of land on which the structure sat pursuant to paragraph (e) of this section. (2) Trees and landscaping. Compensation for the Replacement Cost of destroyed trees and landscaping will be limited to 25% of the pre-fire value of the structure and lot.

(3) Mitigation. If requested by a Claimant, FEMA may compensate a Claimant for the reasonable cost of mitigation measures that will reduce the property's vulnerability to the future risk of wildfire, flood or other natural hazards related to the Cerro Grande Fire. Mitigation compensation made available under this section may not exceed fifteen percent of payments from all sources (i.e., CGFAA, insurance proceeds, FEMA assistance under the Stafford Act) for damage to the structure and lot. The Claimant must obtain all government permits, approvals and clearances required by applicable law, ordinance or regulation before constructing the mitigation measures. The mitigation measures must be reviewed by FEMA under applicable environmental and historic preservation laws. Claimants must construct the mitigation measures for which they have received compensation.

(e) Reduction in the value of real property. Compensatory damages may be awarded for reduction in the value of real property that a Claimant owned before the fire if:

(1) The Claimant sells the real property in a good faith arm's length transaction that is closed no later than August 28, 2002 and realizes a loss in the pre-fire value; or

(2) The Claimant can establish that the value of the real property was permanently diminished as a result of the Cerro Grande Fire.

(f) Destruction of unique items of personal property. Compensatory damages may be awarded for unique items of personal property that were destroyed as a result of the Cerro Grande Fire. If the item can be replaced in the current market, the cost to replace the item will be awarded. If the item cannot be replaced in the current market, its fair market value on the date it was destroyed will be awarded.

(g) Disaster recovery loans. FEMA will reimburse Claimants awarded compensation under the CGFAA for interest paid on Small Business Administration disaster loans and similar loans obtained after May 4, 2000. Interest will be reimbursed for the period beginning on the date that the loan was taken out and ending on the date when the Claimant receives a compensation award (other than a partial payment). Claimants are required to use the proceeds of their compensation awards to repay Small Business Administration disaster loans. FEMA will cooperate with the Small Business Administration to formulate procedures for assuring that Claimants repay Small Business Administration disaster loans contemporaneously with the receipt of CGFAA compensation awards.

(h) Mitigation. FEMA may compensate Claimants for the cost of reasonable and cost-effective efforts incurred on or before August 28, 2003 to mitigate the heightened risks of wildfire, flood or other natural disaster resulting from the Cerro Grande Fire that are consistent with a OCGFC-approved Mitigation Compensation Plan. No more than 15% of the total amount appropriated by Congress for the payment of Cerro Grande fire related claims may be allocated for mitigation compensation under this subsection. Claimants seeking compensation under this provision must file a Notice of Loss under § 295.10 or amend a Notice of Loss previously filed under § 295.33 or § 295.34. The Notice of Loss or amendment must specify that compensation for mitigation is sought. The Notice of Loss must be filed or a proposed amendment under § 295.33 or § 295.34 submitted no later than August 28, 2002. A separate request for mitigation assistance must be filed with OCGFC no later than August 28, 2003. Claimants must construct the mitigation measures for which they have received compensation.

(i) Subsistence - (1) Allowable damages. FEMA may reimburse an Indian tribe, a Tribal Member or a Household Including Tribal Members for the reasonable cost of replacing Subsistence Resources customarily and traditionally used by the Claimant on or before May 4, 2000, but no longer available to the Claimant as a result of the Cerro Grande Fire. For each category of Subsistence Resources, the Claimant must elect to receive compensatory damages either for the increased cost of obtaining Subsistence Resources from lands not damaged by the Cerro Grande Fire or for the cost of procuring substitute resources in the cash economy. Long-term damage awards will be made in the form of lump sum cash payments to eligible Claimants.

(2) Proof of subsistence use. FEMA may consider evidence submitted by Claimants, Indian Tribes and other knowledgeable sources in determining the nature and extent of a Claimant's subsistence uses.

(3) Duration of damages. Compensatory damages for subsistence losses will be paid for the period between May 4, 2000 and the date when Subsistence Resources can reasonably be expected to return to the level of availability that existed before the Cerro Grande Fire. FEMA may rely upon the advice of experts in making this determination.

(j) Flood insurance. A Claimant that owned or leased real property in the counties of Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Sandoval or Santa Fe at the time of the Cerro Grande Fire who was not required by law to maintain flood insurance before the fire and who did not maintain flood insurance before the fire may be reimbursed by FEMA for reasonable flood insurance premiums incurred during the period beginning May 12, 2000 and ending May 12, 2002 on the owned or leased real property. Alternatively, FEMA may provide flood insurance to such Claimants directly through a group or blanket policy.

(k) Out of pocket expenses for treatment of mental health conditions. FEMA may reimburse an individual Claimant for reasonable out of pocket expenses incurred for treatment of a mental health condition rendered by a licensed mental health professional, which condition resulted from the Cerro Grande Fire and which could not be effectively addressed through no-cost crisis counseling services available in the community. FEMA will not reimburse for treatment rendered after December 31, 2001.

(l) Donations. FEMA will compensate individual or business Claimants in the counties of Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Sandoval and Santa Fe (including those located on pueblos and Indian reservations) for the cost of merchandise, use of equipment or other non-personal services, directly or indirectly donated to survivors of the Cerro Grande Fire not later than June 19, 2000. Donations will be valued at cost. FEMA will also compensate businesses located in the counties of Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Sandoval and Santa Fe (including those located on pueblos and Indian reservations) for discounts offered to fire survivors on goods and services not later than June 19, 2000 provided that actual revenues earned by the business during the period May 1-June 30, 2000 did not exceed reasonable projections for the period and the shortfall between actual revenues and reasonable projections resulted from the Cerro Grande Fire. Compensation will be the difference between the Claimant's established post-fire price for the good or service actually charged to the general public and the post-fire discounted price charged to fire survivors.

(m) Duplication of benefits. The CGFAA allows FEMA to compensate Injured Parties only if their damages have not been paid or will not be paid by insurance or a third party.

(1) Insurance. Claimants who carry insurance will be required to disclose the name of the insurer(s) and the nature of the insurance and provide OCGFC with such insurance documentation as OCGFC reasonably requests.

(2) Coordination with our Public Assistance Program. Injured Parties eligible for disaster assistance under our Public Assistance Program are expected to apply for all available assistance. Compensation will not be awarded under the CGFAA for:

(i) Emergency costs that are eligible for reimbursement under the Public Assistance Program; or

(ii) Losses that are eligible for repair, restoration or replacement under the Public Assistance Program; or

(iii) Costs or charges determined excessive under the Public Assistance Program.

(3) Benefits provided by non-governmental organizations and individuals. Unless otherwise provided by these regulations, disaster relief payments made to a Claimant by a non-governmental organization or an individual, other than wages paid by the Claimant's employer or insurance payments, will be disregarded in evaluating claims and need not be disclosed to OCGFC by Claimants.

(4) Benefits provided by our Individual Assistance program. Compensation under the CGFAA will not be awarded for losses or costs that have been reimbursed under the Individual and Family Grant Program or any other FEMA Individual Assistance Program.

(5) Worker's compensation claims. Individuals who have suffered injuries that are compensable under State or Federal worker's compensation laws must apply for all benefits available under such laws.