Claims Process Continues for Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Losses

The Panama City injury attorney at our form works to help residents and visitors to our community who have suffered injury or financial loss resulting from the actions of another. Our expertise includes car accidents, nursing home abuse, and losses stemming from the impact of offshore oil spills on Panama City and the Bay County region.

Along with other Gulf Coast communities, Panama City is still feeling the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. On April 20, 2010, there was an explosion at the 9-year-old offshore drilling unit that was operating under a lease to BP. Two days later, on April 22, a leak was confirmed as a large oil slick began to appear near the site. Estimates put the total volume of oil leaked at 4.9 million barrels. Oil released due to the spill was seen throughout the Gulf of Mexico including on the shores of Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Communities, businesses, and individuals suffered losses due to the oil itself and also in the clean-up process.

Legal battles seeking to compensate those who suffered financial losses due to the BP spill have been numerous. Interestingly, The News Herald is reporting on a shift in the claims process. An initial submission deadline of May 7 has been extended until June 11 for participation in the Quick Payment program. This program offers a payment of $5,000 to individuals and $25,000 to businesses. Participating in and receiving payment from the Quick Payment program means that the claimant cannot pursue future claims except for injury or death.

In general, the existing Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) is in the process of being phased out. It will be replaced by the Court-Supervised Settlement Program, which will determine if losses occurred as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and determine how much is owed to individuals and businesses. The new program is a portion of a settlement agreement that involves more than 100,000 claimants and two class-actions filed against BP. It seeks to conclude GCCF and establish a court-supervised replacement. Terms of the program, including a deadline of April 22, 2014 or six months from the settlement's effective date, have been set forth by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier.

Under the new program, individual losses are calculated by estimating the difference between projected and actual earnings from May 2010 to either December 2010 or April 2011, depending on the industry involved. Individuals may also be able to receive compensation for lost pension benefits, lost health insurance, and costs involved in job searches and training. Claims on behalf of existing businesses are based on two factors: 1) the reduction in profit for a consecutive period of three or more months in the eight months following the spill and 2) expected profits calculated by looking at growth trends at the business level and economy-wide. Other claim calculation formulas are specified for both successful and failed start-up businesses, failed existing businesses, and losses in multi-facility businesses.

More than two years have passed, but the communities impacted by the Deepwater Horizon spill are still working to recover losses due to the incident. We hope that the oil industry is able to apply lessons from this accident to help prevent future disasters. Our team will continue to be available in the future as a law firm for oil spills in Panama City and throughout Northern Florida.

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