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The Trouble with BP Oil Spill Claims

There has been a lot of water—and oil—that has flowed under the bridge since the April 2010 oil spill resulting from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Eleven people died, and countless others have been forced to face the reality that life along the Gulf of Mexico coast would never be the same again. But at least UK-based oil company giant BP Plc is more than willing to make restitution to those affected by the disaster. Or it had been.
Two years after the tragic incident, BP Plc set in place the Economic and Property Damage Class Action Settlement Agreement which was designed to accept, process and pay personal or business injury claims. Under the terms of the agreement, anyone or any business that meet certain criteria can file a claim and expect compensation. Business owners did not have to prove that their losses were a direct result of the oil spill. And this is the biggest problem facing BP oil spill claimants today.

When it first established the Settlement, BP estimated that the total payouts would be in the neighborhood of $7.8 Billion, later readjusting it to $9.2 Billion, but insiders believe the figure could go much higher. BP began to challenge claims over $25,000, as stipulated in the agreement, in an attempt to control what the company claims to be a gross mismanagement of the funds. BP is currently appealing the federal courts to stop payments and to allow the realignment of the terms of the original agreement to more strictly qualify the claims being filed. BP is asking that only business claims that may be reasonably supposed to have been affected by the oil spill be eligible under the Settlement.

A final ruling has yet to be handed down by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals judges, which means that claims, legitimate or otherwise, are currently in limbo. Claimants who are appealing a denial or who have opted out of the Settlement may still make a claim with BP under the Oil Pollution Act in the meantime. Consult with a personal injury lawyer handling BP oil spill claims and request for updates on the situation of the Settlement and the judges’ decision.