Now that the deadline has passed for victims of the BP oil spill to file claims for Emergency Advance Payments with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, businesses and individuals impacted by the disaster will start working on their final damage claims. Today, Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the BP oil spill compensation fund, released some important details on how those claims will be handled.
Most importantly, Feinberg said that any business or individual that accepts a final damage payment will not be able to sue any of the companies involved in the disaster. We already knew claimants would have to give up their rights to sue BP if they accepted damage payment, but the status of other legal rights had not been determined. Under the new guidelines released today, claimants will not be able to exercise their legal rights against Transocean Ltd., which owned the rig that exploded in April, Halliburton Co., which performed cementing work on the well, and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC, part owners of the well that ruptured.
While yesterday was the deadline for filing claims for emergency payments, individuals and businesses can still apply for interim payments every three months and retain their rights to sue companies responsible for the spill. Only when accepting lump-sum payments from the compensation fund do they give up the option of suing BP and its partners.
So far, the Gulf Coast Claims Center has paid more than 127,400 claims for a total of more than $2 billion, according to a status report dated yesterday. The fund has received more than 439,000 applications for emergency and final payments.
According to the Associated Press, Feinberg said he received a flood of last-minute emergency claims before yesterday’s deadline ran out. Of the claims filed so far, 30,000 were filed Monday or later.
Claims forms for final payments must be submitted by August 23, 2013.
Help filing claims and other legal assistance for the victims of the BP oil spill is available at www.bigspill.com.