BP oil spill claims offices are now open in 18 locations across the Gulf Coast. The Deepwater Horizon Claims Centers will be run by Patrick Juneau, the court-appointed administrator.
On April 20, 2010, an explosion aboard the oil rig located about 60 miles off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico set off a raging inferno that killed 11 workers. The blaze persisted until the rig suffered a partial collapse, rupturing several massive wells.
The world watched underwater camera footage of raw crude oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for months through the summer of that year; at least 200 million gallons of oil eventually emptied into the sea, home to countless indigenous species of shellfish and other aquatic life and the source of business and employment for tens of thousands of people living along the coast from Texas to Florida. Several attempts to cap one well were documented and most resulted in failure.
Now, said NOLA.com, claims offices will be taking economic loss and medical claims information, making payouts based on the negotiated settlement whose terms are described as “strict.” Main offices will be located on three floors of the Exchange Centre building located in downtown New Orleans. In the same building, a separate facility headed by Garretson Resolution Group will handle claims from coastal residents and cleanup workers claiming injuries from exposure to the spilled oil, said NOLA.com. Medical damage payments are not scheduled to begin until the class is certified by the court and upheld on appeal.
Effective Monday, those suffering a loss or injury related to the spill and who have not yet accepted a final BP settlement via the former Gulf Coast Claims Facility can apply under the new claims process.
The new payment system was created under the terms of a settlement reached this spring that is meant to avoid a trial on thousands of health and economic-damage claims by those individuals and businesses claiming harm as a result of the spill, said NOLA.com. The deal, which was approved preliminarily by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, was uncapped (no limit on damaged payouts); BP estimated the cost at $7.8 billion. The settlement, said NOLA.com, is not an admission of liability by BP.
The settlement involves a change in how claims will be processed. The court-supervised claims process replaces the Gulf Coast Claims Facility that was run by Kenneth Feinberg.
We long explained that thousands of people living or working along or in the Gulf of Mexico continue to suffer daily, either because they’ve been forced out of work or are forced to live with disabling side effects related to the work to clean the oil spill from the water and beaches during and after the spill. The new system is meant to monitor health concerns and compensate people whose illnesses are linked to the massive spill.