The payout to those financially damaged by the BP oil spill appears to be as messy as the spill itself. ProPublica reports that many damage claims are in limbo and claimants are being kept waiting.
The answer appears to be within the wording of the Oil Pollution Act, a 1990 federal law that requires companies to be responsible for direct “removal costs and damages” caused by an oil spill. Not all claims are for the costs of removing oil and damages from the oil. ProPublica reports on Duane Sandy, who sells hurricane-proof storage units in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. He submitted a claim in May for $3,500 since he has not sold a single unit since the spill in April. Instead, he got a form letter from BP that said he had not provided sufficient documentation to support the claim. When he called BP he got a different answer. A BP adjuster said the company is not paying claims of lost income based on commissions.
All of this confusion may be helped in mid-August when Kenneth Feinberg takes over. He is the independent administrator appointed by the president to oversee the compensation process, similar to what he did with the victims of 9/11. Feinberg tells ProPublica that his standards for compensation will be more generous than BP.
BP committed to paying all “legitimate claims” following the Deepwater oil rig explosion April 20. So far it has paid under one-third of the more than 100,000 claims it has received. Twenty billion dollars has been set aside and $250,000 has been spent.
It probably is wise not to take BP at its word so ProPublica has set up a register for everyone who has a BP claim to sign in. That way the payments can be tracked to see if BP will live up to its word.
BP Oil Spill Victim Compensation Fund (BPOSVCF)
It is well-advised to hire an experienced Florida oil spill economic loss attorney to represent your interests if you have lost income due to the BP oil disaster. Remember, Mr. Feinberg is not your attorney. Filing a claim with the BPOSVCF emergency payment should be your first move. Once you receive your emergency payment, an experienced Florida attorney will help you negotiate a final settlement with the oil giant. Or you can wait and see what your own personal claim brings.