Federal Court Judge Carl Barbier signed an order this week that is designed to implement a complete overhaul of the process by which Gulf Coast residents can file claims for BP oil spill injuries and property damage. Thus far, the claims process has been handled by the Gulf Coast Claims Facility ("GCCF"), with Kenneth Feinberg, who was appointed to the position by President Obama, overseeing the payouts.
However, last week a settlement agreement was reached in two class-action lawsuits against BP involving over 100,000 claimants. A part of that agreement mandated the dissolution of the GCCF, as well as the establishment of a court-supervised program to handle the remaining claims.
Our Panama City injury lawyer knows that the GCCF has been heavily criticized in the past by people all across the spectrum, with the federal government often complaining that Feinberg has been too stingy and BP executives complaining that he has been too generous. In addition, there have been accusations that Feinberg is not an impartial overseer of the process and that he has used his position to protect BP from additional liability.
Regardless of whether Feinberg has indeed abused his position, the process is going to change as the result of Judge Barbier's order according to the News Herald. First, GCCF will no longer be in charge of handling the incoming claims, and it will be disbanded after the transition has been completed.
Second, a new claims facility will be organized, and it will be called the Court Supervised Claims Process, ("CSCP"). As the name suggests, the new claims process will give courts a greater role in the determination of which claims have merit and how much should be paid. In addition, Patrick Juneau has been appointed as the new claims administrator.
Our Panama City injury lawyer knows all too well how many people have suffered injuries, illnesses, and property damage as a result of the 2010 BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf. It is essential for people to be able to get the help that they need, and often the only way they can afford to pay for that help is by getting the compensation to which they are entitled through the claims program.
With the implementation of a new process, people may have to wait longer for that compensation. However, the transition process has already begun, and according to the GCCF website, claims that have already been filed will continue to be processed in the order they were received. Also, new claims can still be filed during the transition, and they will also be processed in order.
Gulf oil spill damage is prevalent in our area, and the course of action to take when you have been harmed by it is not always clear. Much of the claims process is done via the internet, which can be useful for those who are familiar with it, but very difficult for people who do not use computers and the internet on a regular basis.
The new CSCP should help to iron out some of the difficulties and help people finally get the compensation they deserve to get back on track. Those injured should also think about consulting a Panama City personal injury attorney for help with filing a claim and figuring out what a fair settlement is for their injuries.