BP Oil Spill Victims Given Three Compensation Options

People and businesses impacted by the BP oil spill are being given three options for receiving compensation from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF). Two of the three BP oil spill compensation options, which apply to the payment of final damage claims, require claimants to surrender their legal rights, according to a report from McClatchy Newspapers.

The BP oil spill began on April 20, 2010 with an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that killed 11 men. Attempts to staunch the gusher failed, until a cap was successfully deployed over the undersea well on July 15. By that time, roughly 4.4 million barrels of oil had spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. The BP oil spill, which now ranks as the largest offshore oil disaster in US history, paralyzed important segments of the Gulf Coast’s economy, including seafood and tourism.

Over the summer, BP agreed to set aside at least $20 billion to pay economic loss and physical damage claims stemming from the BP oil spill. Kenneth Feinberg, who had previously administered the 9/11 Victims’ Compensation Fund, was tapped to oversee the BP fund. Businesses, individuals and government entities who suffered economic losses or physical injury as a result of the BP oil spill were eligible to file two types of claims: Emergency Advance Payments and long-term final damage claims. Claims forms for final payments must be submitted by August 23, 2013.

According to the McClatchy Newspapers report, the three options for final payments will be available until the August 2013 deadline. Under Option One, the fund would make a final lump-sum payment based on documented damage, but claimants would be required give up their right to sue. Under Option Two, claimants would get interim quarterly payments but reserve their legal rights. Under Option Three, applicants who already have received emergency funds would get a quick payout of $5,000 for individuals and $25,000 for businesses without having to provide additional documentation, but they would have to give up the right to sue.

The claims facility will release the methodology used to calculate final payments as early as next week

In addition, Feinberg is recommending that anyone who has had a claim denied – including casino workers – resubmit their claims, McClatchy Newspapers said.

According to a report on Bloomberg.com, officials and residents of the Gulf Coast have criticized Feinberg and the GCCF for taking too long to rule on claims, something they say has put many businesses at risk of imminent failure. A backlog of emergency claims will be cleared by December 15, Feinberg said.

As of December 11, the claims fund had received 463,795 claims and had written checks for almost $2.48 billion to more than 166,000 people and businesses, according to the GCCF website. More than 232,400 claimants had been denied.

Feinberg also said about 2,000 to 3,000 claims are “very suspicious,” and may be fraudulent, according to the Bloomberg.com report.

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