After BP’s Deepwater Horizon platform exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico five years ago, more than 200 million gallons of crude flowed into the waters for 87 agonizing days.
It was the worst spill in history. And, although it was years ago, scientists still see ongoing damage in the five Gulf states (Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas) — damage such as layers of oil and chemical dispersants on the Gulf floor, abnormally high death rates of bottlenose dolphins, lesions on recreational and commercially-caught fish and much more. Scientists are still searching for a definitive long-term outlook.
One thing is known, however. BP must pay claims in two separate settlement agreements, a Medical Benefits Settlement and an Economic and Property Damages (“E&PD”) Settlement. The claim deadline for medical has passed. However, the deadline for filing economic damage claims is still open, but now just 48 days (June 8, 2015) remain, according to Tom Young, a Tampa attorney who specializes in BP claims. Failure to make a claim by then will forever waive your rights, he says.
To date, BP has paid more than $5 billion to businesses affected by the spill and claims are still being filed. It’s important to note that thousands of businesses across the Gulf Coast are part of that settlement even though no oil actually washed up on their shores. In fact, by definition, all businesses in all the shoreline counties in the five states are already considered claimants.
But even a business that’s 30 to 40 miles inland could have suffered a related decrease in business and is eligible to make a legitimate claim. After all, the media, both national and international, plastered the daily world news for more than two months with reports that oil was coming, for example, to the west coast of Florida, though it never actually got there.
Just such conjecture by news outlets hurt tourism; winter transient boaters disappeared; people were afraid to catch fish, never mind eat them; new boat dealerships and marinas were seriously hurt; boat service firms, gas docks, tackle stores, restaurants, related hospitality businesses and many more suffered plummeting revenues, too.
Reportedly, the average settlement has been in excess of $100,000. Owning and running a marine business daily isn’t easy. I get that. And filing a claim can be a time-consuming project. I get that, too. Still, fair compensation for legitimate damages suffered because of this spill — and all the related problems it brought on — is something every impacted marine business should carefully consider before leaving money on the table and waiving your rights forever.
To see if you qualify for a claim, check this site for requirements.