Looming Statute of Limitations for BP Oil Spill Claims

The rest of the nation may have forgotten the horrors of the BP oil spill, but we don't have that luxury. It negatively impacted our economy. The statute of limitations, only months away, will bar claims for businesses, including farms, car dealers, and groceries, from the beach to above the Alabama line.

This spill is the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. Motivated by negative public opinion, BP admitted responsibility and negotiated a settlement agreement promising to pay all legitimate claims for economic damages suffered by individuals and businesses as a result of the oil spill.

Recently, however, BP has tried to renege on its promises. It has started an aggressive advertising campaign to intimidate them from submitting claims. It has sent threatening letters to the attorneys representing these claimants, including me, alleging that it would force claimants to pay them back for payments it deemed excessive.

Last month, a U.S. judge struck down BP's appeal against the settlement process. In reality, BP seems to be suffering from a severe case of buyer's remorse after settlement costs exceeded the company's estimates. Businesses that had losses should continue to make claims. They need not be intimidated. BP negotiated and approved the settlement agreement. Its own accounting expert confirmed that after a business meets the factors specified in the agreement, BP is responsible.

To those who have already received compensation for losses, don't worry about BP coming back for money. A provision in the settlement agreement explicitly prohibits the repayment of money given to a claimant once payments are approved and issued. Claims decisions are final. Making a new claim now is easy. The time limit is perilously close. Businesses and farms from the Gulf to the Alabama state line and above should explore their options now before it's too late.

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