Do I have a claim against BP?
If the BP oil spill has cost you money, you may very well have a claim. A federal law called “OPA” (Oil Pollution Act) allows recovery for (among other things) loss of real or personal property, revenues, profits and earning capacity as a result of an oil spill. Depending on your state and the nature of your claims, other laws also may help you as well.
What is the best way to know what, if any claims I may have, and who I would make these claims against?
Talk to a knowledgeable lawyer who is representing clients and keeping current on developments in this case.
How do I ask BP to reimburse me for money I have lost or will lose because of the oil spill?
As of July 2010, you can file a claim with BP directly. We are told that around the beginning of August, you will need to file a claim with a separate fund, which a lawyer-mediator named Ken Feinberg will oversee.
What is Ken Feinberg’s involvement?
Ken Feinberg is most famous for helping to resolve claims by those who were injured in the 9/11 attacks. He will not represent you, but will decide and settle your claims from the money paid into the fund by BP.
What is the “Feinberg Fund?”
The Feinberg fund represents an agreement by BP to pay some claims that result from the oil spill. The fund reportedly will have no less than $20 Billion available. Mr. Feinberg is to be paid by BP to administer this fund.
How do I file a claim with BP or Ken Feinberg?
You must prepare your claim with documentation and submit it to BP. The rules for Mr. Feinberg’s fund have not been published, but we expect them to be similar to BP’s rules. You then will need to follow up on your claim.
Do I have to have a lawyer to file a claim with BP or Feinberg?
You do not have to have a lawyer to file a claim with either BP or Mr. Feinberg, and BP would prefer that you not have a lawyer. But your claim is a legal filing, and your recovery will be judged on what is submitted.
Why would I need a lawyer then to file a claim?
A lawyer can: best prepare your claim to maximize your amount of recovery; assist with expert evidence related to your business for past and future losses; negotiate with BP or Mr. Feinberg if your claim is not fully paid; and sue BP or any other defendant if you do not receive all that you are entitled to receive.
Won’t I have to pay a lawyer?
Depending on when in the process your claim is paid, yes. Right now, our firm is not taking any fee on the interim payments clients receive from the BP fund (even though we presented the claims submission). Eventually, we will ask for a fee when it comes to the point of fighting BP or other defendants to pay all that you are entitled to receive.
What if I don’t yet know how much I have lost?
We recommend that you file an “interim” claim for the amount you know you have lost, and file a “final” claim later, when the true extent of your losses becomes clear.
Are there other companies that might be responsible to reimburse me for my loss?
Yes. Halliburton, Transocean, Cameron, and other companies also probably are responsible for their own part of the oil spill.
Are these other companies part of Mr. Feinberg’s fund?
No. Currently, there is no plan to make these other companies part of the Fund. We have our own plans for them.
Can I sue BP or these other companies and still make a claim against BP or the fund?
Yes, although at some point Mr. Feinberg will ask you to promise not to sue BP in order to receive your money.
Do I have to file a claim with BP and/or Mr. Feinberg, or can I just sue?
The OPA law requires you to file a claim with BP before you can sue.
Can I file a claim with BP and/or Mr. Feinberg and sue BP and other companies at the same time?
Yes. You can and likely should both file a claim and sue BP and the other companies.
What can I do right now to help my case?
You can keep good records, and you can work closely with your lawyer to ensure you get reimbursed as fully as possible for your damages.