295.5 Overview of the claims process.§ 295.5 Overview of the claims process.
(a) The CGFAA is intended to provide persons who suffered losses from the Cerro Grande Fire with a simple, expedited process to seek redress from the United States. This section provides a brief explanation of the claims process for claims other than subrogation claims. It is not intended to supersede the more specific regulations that follow and explain the claims process in greater detail. In order to obtain benefits under this legislation, a person must submit all Cerro Grande Fire related claims against the United States to FEMA. A person who elects to proceed under the CGFAA is barred from bringing a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act or filing a civil action against the United States for damages resulting from the Cerro Grande Fire. Judicial review of our decisions under the CGFAA is available.
(b) The first step in the process is to file a Notice of Loss with OCGFC. OCGFC will provide the Claimant with a written acknowledgement that the claim has been filed and the claim number.
(c) Shortly thereafter, a Claims Reviewer will contact the Claimant to review the claim. The Claims Reviewer will help the Claimant formulate a strategy for obtaining any necessary documentation or other support. This assistance does not relieve the Claimant of his or her responsibility for establishing all elements of the Loss and the compensatory damages that are sought, including that the Cerro Grande Fire caused the Loss. After the Claimant has had an opportunity to discuss the claim with the Claims Reviewer, a Proof of Loss will be presented to the Claimant for signature. After any necessary documentation has been obtained and the claim has been fully evaluated, the Claims Reviewer will submit a report to the Authorized Official. The Claims Reviewer is responsible for providing an objective evaluation of the claim to the Authorized Official.
(d) The Authorized Official will review the report and determine whether compensation is due to the Claimant. The Claimant will be notified in writing of the Authorized Official's Determination. If the Claimant is satisfied with the decision payment will be made after the Claimant returns a completed Release and Certification Form. If the Claimant is dissatisfied with the Authorized Official's Determination an Administrative Appeal may be filed with the Director of OCGFC. If the Claimant remains dissatisfied after the appeal is decided, the dispute may be resolved through binding arbitration or heard in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico.