BP Settlement Language Opens New Opportunities

BP’s massive oil spill that affected our coast from Pensacola to Apalachicola remains, frightfully, in our minds. If you saw the movie "Jaws" or its sequel, you will never forget the spine chilling music as the shark approached the boat or the ad for "Jaws II." It said, "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water."

The music is missing, but recent reports of sea life mutated by oil lurking in the Gulf bring back the chill. Fishermen, restaurants, hotels, and people selling their properties suddenly had economic losses like they had been ravaged by the shark's open jaws.

Today, too many people and businesses remain uncompensated. Some never applied for settlement because they thought making a claim would be too difficult. Others had claims wrongfully denied. Times have been hard for them. But remember Alexander Pope's poetic phrase, "Hope springs eternal in the human breast."

That hope has just been realized in BP's funding of a settlement that opens up new opportunities for everyone having losses, including many who made claims but were denied payment or were only partially paid. It is a new world. For a short time, these claims can be made against the settlement fund. Depending upon where their property was located, people or businesses that sold property along the coast after the spill in 2010 may be entitled to significant payments from the newly created fund. In many cases, the decline in property value is set by formula, meaning that reams of paperwork is not required to prove a loss.

Others who should make claims are those who lost business income, for example, from vacation properties, rentals, and restaurants, and those who lost personal income. Among them are seafood processors, fishermen, and oyster harvesters. The claims process is not clear-cut, so it is best to get legal counsel. Call if you need more information. Next week, I'll tell you more to help you recover losses from BP's jaws.

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