Five years ago today a massive explosion occurred on the Deepwater Horizon platform fifty miles off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico, sending flames shooting into the air, taking the lives of eleven men, and ultimately dumping 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf.
The days and weeks after the spill consisted of a worldwide scientific scramble to figure out how to cap the gushing well, which took a total of 86 days. Meanwhile, the impending tourism season was quickly evaporating as tourists cancelled their hotel rooms, plans and vacations en masse. Businesses all along the Gulf suffered major losses that year, which then trickled down to affect communities as a whole, including physicians, car dealers, manufacturers, home builders and the service industry.
In an effort to tackle the massive litigation it was inevitably going to face, BP negotiated a Settlement Program that commenced in 2012. The good news is that it has now paid about $5 billion back to Gulf coast businesses and individuals to date. More than 200,000 claims have been filed, approximately 85,000 of which are business economic loss claims. The bad news, however, is that it only represents a fraction of those who are eligible. And, the deadline of June 8, 2015 is fast approaching, so businesses have mere weeks to file a claim before the Program ends.
Claim filings have grown in the past month, as have payments; a good sign that the Program is moving at an increasing pace after months of being stalled. As far as whether or not to file, we have found that some businesses hesitated because they weren’t sure if the spill affected them directly, and because they did not want a handout. In more good news, the Program’s complicated formulas are designed to determine what impact the spill had on a business if any, and if a business qualifies, it is absolutely entitled to recoup its losses.
It is not too late to be evaluated for a claim. In order to meet the deadline, businesses are encouraged to contact a full-service law firm who can quickly and efficiently process a claim.