The BP settlement process recognizes that the 2010 oil spill directly or indirectly affected many local businesses. Under the settlement, there are two accepted facts: First, the BP Oil Spill affected tourism in the area. Second, all local businesses are affected by tourism. As such, the British Petroleum (BP) oil fund settlement (over $7.8 billion) was set up to pay businesses that suffered an economic downturn in the months following the spill.

Unlike most claims, businesses do not need to show that the oil spill directly caused them any harm to qualify.  In fact, whether or not located near the water or involved in tourism, any business in the panhandle or in the western counties of Florida (i.e., Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Manatee, etc.) may qualify for a recovery. Though there are some exclusions (see flyer below), virtually all types of businesses are eligible.

BP Claims Submission

In order for a claim to be submitted, there are a few basic steps that need to be followed. First, fill out a revenue summary worksheet and submit it to the attorney whom you have chosen to represent you. Next, the attorney will contact you regarding whether or not you qualify for a claims payment; if you qualify, the process will continue. While your chosen attorney asks you to gather the necessary financial documents to support your claim, (s)he will begin filling out all of the required paperwork. Finally, once all required financial data is received, an analysis will be determined and a claim will be submitted to Deep Water Horizon Claims center (DHCC). At this point you will know how much you can expect to receive.

Choosing Your Attorney

There are a few key variables that are important to consider when looking for an attorney to help you file a BP Claim. Some of these variables include:

  1. How does the attorney charge you for his/her services? Is it a set contingency fee or are there additional costs for copies, prints, couriers, etcetera?
  2. Does the attorney work closely with an accountant? Are accounting fees included in the attorney’s contingency fee? For the calculations that need to be done and financial data that needs to be organized, it is all but impossible for an attorney to work on claims without the assistance of accountants.
  3. How long has the attorney been filing claims? Did (s)he begin filing at the start of DHCC in June, 2012, or did (s)he just begin filing more recently?
  4. Does the attorney have a dedicated representative at DHCC?

For questions one and two, it is important not to get caught up in a low contingency fee. Some attorneys might charge 15%, but then add on additional costs for copies, prints, couriers, etc. Furthermore, they could then have another 15% added in for accounting costs. Make sure that whatever the rate is, it includes the entire process for data collection to final submission. For question three, make sure to consider how much more effective someone will be who has been doing this from the start than someone who jumped on the band wagon half way through the process. You can bet that if an attorney got involved at the onset of this claims process, (s)he had done an exorbitant amount of research prior to DHCC and will be better prepared to get you the maximum recovery. Finally, with the massive amount of claims being submitted to DHCC, it is vital that the attorney you chose has a representative at the facility to assist in keeping claims running smoothly.

BP Settlement Not Over Yet

On June 16, 2010, BP executives met with President Obama and set up the Gulf Coast Claims facility, which was initially how individuals and businesses were filing claims against BP. This facility began accepting claims on August 23, 2010. In early 2012, independent audits were performed on this facility, and it was apparent that things would need to change. It was at this point that talks began about a court-supervised settlement program.

June 4, 2012, marked the transfer of claims from the Gulf Coast Claims facility to DHCC. Currently, this court supervised settlement center is where all claims against BP are being filed. Unlike the Gulf Coast facility, DHCC is regulated by a detailed settlement agreement more than 1,000 pages in length.

Despite the fact that major news outlets seem to indicate that the claims may have ended, or that BP is no longer paying out, DHCC is required by the settlement agreement to continue paying out claims until the deadline of April 22, 2014. Simply put, BP is still paying out qualified claims.

How To Figure Out The Deepwater Horizon Settlements

Where claims against BP are concerned, there are really three separate options for you as a business owner or individual.

First option would be to file on your own. As you probably have an idea from the information above, this is a long and tedious process, and can often be more frustration than it is worth. Your second option would be to seek out a qualified attorney. Look at the qualities above and use that as guidelines for finding the right person for the job. Finally, you can hire an attorney to file a separate claim outside of DHCC. This would require you to opt out of the settlement agreement, and ultimately be the longest and most tedious process.

Do you Qualify?

For a preliminary analysis to determine whether your business qualifies, we have prepared a worksheet (see below), which requests monthly gross revenue figures. Although the 2007 and 2008 information is optional, it does assist in creating more possibilities that may be available to qualify and/or maximize a potential claim. More importantly, the information needed to process the claim is not equivalent to a government audit and any information provided will remain confidential, as it is governed by the attorney client privilege, whether or not you have a qualified claim.

The three (3) basic ways to present the information on the worksheet utilize “gross revenue” and are not based on profit. The first is on a “cash” basis (i.e., when the money was deposited).  The second is on an “accrual” basis (i.e., when the services/products were invoiced). Lastly, if it applies to your business, the third basic way to present the information is based on “sales tax returns” (i.e., if selling both products and services). Of course, other methodologies may apply as well.

The more ways you can present the information, the better. Hence, it is encouraged for you to provide the requested information in as many ways as possible. At a minimum, you should provide the numbers in the same way that your business files its tax returns. It is not necessary to do the financial calculations yourself, especially since the settlement formulas for determining the loss are varied and complex.  Your attorney will examine the financial data to qualify your business(es) and maximize the recovery.

If you are interested in filing a claim, feel free to fill out the worksheet and send it to us either by e-mail, fax or regular mail. Once received, we’ll analyze the data to determine eligibility and schedule a meeting to follow up.

If you have any questions, please contact us.  

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