California Government Code
(a) (1)Upon learning of an oil spill, the administrator shall immediately designate the responsible party, who, if that designation is not challenged, shall immediately, widely advertise the manner in which it shall accept and pay claims.
(2) If the designation of the administrator is challenged, the administrator shall immediately, widely advertise the manner in which he or she shall accept, process, and pay claims. If the administrator’s designation is later upheld, all costs incurred by the administrator, including interest and appropriate penalties, shall be assessed against the responsible party.
(3) If the administrator is unable to designate a responsible party, the administrator shall immediately, widely advertise the manner in which the administrator shall accept, process, and pay claims. In the absence of a designated responsible party the claimant shall submit his or her claim to the federal fund. If there is no response within 60 days, the claimant may submit his or her claim to the fund.
(b) Claims under the amount of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) may be submitted directly to the fund. The claimant shall not be required to make a demand on the responsible party or any federal fund. It is the intent of the Legislature that these claims be processed as expeditiously as possible, and the administrator shall contract with professional adjusters to handle the claims as fairly and professionally as possible. Claimants shall assign or subrogate all rights against the responsible party to the fund before payment and release.
(c) Claims in excess of the amount of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) shall first be presented to the designated responsible party for payment. If a satisfactory response is not forthcoming within 60 days, the claimant shall submit his or her claim to the appropriate federal fund. If a satisfactory response is not forthcoming from the appropriate federal fund within 60 days, the claimant may submit the claim to the fund. If the administrator does not designate a responsible party, the claim shall be submitted directly to the appropriate federal fund.
(d) (1)If the federal fund completely rejects a claim, makes a partial offer, or the claimant rejects an offer, the claimant may, nevertheless, apply for reimbursement from the fund, provided that all evidence developed during the federal fund process shall be admissible during the processing of the claim. The administrator shall specifically consider any federal offer.
(2) Any federal payment shall be offset against any payment from the fund.
(3) The claimant shall assign or subrogate all rights under federal law to the fund. Any payment of claims from the fund shall require assignment or subrogation of the claimant’s rights under state law to the fund.
(e) The administrator may levy fines against frivolous claims pursuant to Section 128.5 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
(f) Entities that pay into the fund shall have no standing to contest claims against the fund for claims less than one million dollars ($1,000,000). The entities may petition the administrator to have standing for claims between one million dollars ($1,000,000) and three million dollars ($3,000,000). The entities shall have standing for claims in excess of three million dollars ($3,000,000).
(g) An advisory committee comprised of entities that pay into the fund and other interested parties shall be created and the administrator shall consult with the committee on the manner in which payments are made from the fund.
(h) Claims for reimbursement from the fund shall be made within three years from the date the loss occurred.
(i) Dissatisfied claimants may sue the fund within six months of the administrator’s final decision regarding a claim.
(j) The administrator shall develop and adopt regulations regarding the manner in which claims shall be required to be submitted, processed, heard, and challenged.
(k) Punitive damages shall not be paid from the fund.