The recent settlement between BP and the Plaintiffs Steering Committee is great news for those who have been struggling to get their claims paid through the GCCF. The settlement is not perfect, but all in all it is a good deal for the plaintiffs and it will do the most good for the greatest number of people. It is also important to keep in mind that this is the first settlement and there will likely be other settlements with Haliburton, Transocean and others. Some important points about the settlement are:
1. Settlement is uncapped. The only exception is that $2.3 Billion Dollars has been earmarked for the “Seafood Program” for compensation for commercial fishing industry, fishing vessel owners and deckhands.
2. Most qualified candidates will receive higher settlement offers through this settlement than they would have received from the GCCF.
3. There are technically two class action settlements: One for Economic and Property Damages and one class for Medical Injuries.
4. There will be a 6-8 week transition period, and then the GCCF will be Closed down and the court supervised Settlement Claims Program will begin.
5. A $57 Million dollar marketing fund has been established to promote tourism and Gulf Seafood.
6. Offsets and amounts already received from BP/GCCF will be deducted after the enhancement for potential future damages.
7. Each claimant who is a potential class member can choose to opt out of the settlement and pursue their claim in court.
8. Those with GCCF Final Payment offers that have not expired can receive 60% of the offered amount without signing a release (this is GREAT NEWS). This means that all outstanding non-expired GCCF offers are protected but claimants can receive the benefit of the new settlement.
9. More businesses and individuals will be compensated through this settlement program than through the GCCF. For example categories of damages not covered by the GCCF that will be compensated include (i) Loss of Use and Enjoyment of Real Property, (ii) property damage caused by oil spill clean-up activity, (iii) losses from sale of real property in coastal regions, and (iv) oil and clean-up related damage to real property in wetlands areas.
10. There will be more flexibility in choosing how damages are calculated. Claimants can generally choose to use 2009, or an average of 2008 and 2009 or an average of 2007, 2008 and 2009. Claimants can then choose any 3 or more consecutive months of 2010 (May-December) as their loss period. Unlike the GCCF pre-spill growth trends will also be considered.
11. There will be a Risk Transfer Premium (RTP) paid to account for factors unique to each claim type.
12. The Medical Oil Spill Settlement will provide lots of funding for needed medical and mental health services in Gulf Coast communities.
13. Medical Compensation will be paid for specified medical conditions, periodic medical consultations (for 21 years), back end litigation option for later manifested illness, and $105 Million Gulf Coast Region Health Outreach Program.
14. For certain clean-up workers and some other coastal residents no proof of medical treatment will be required.
15. Covered symptoms include certain respiratory injuries, eye injuries, skin, gastrointestinal, and neurological conditions. Even heat strokes will be compensated.
16. Those with oil or dispersant related illnesses that manifest in the future can sue BP without proof of fault (but punitive damages are waived as part of the settlement).
17. The GCCF Quick Pay Option will expire on May 7, 2012.18. On March 8, 2012 Judge Barbier issued an Order Creating a Transition Process.
For more information about your Gulf Oil Spill claim contact an oil spill lawyer from our law firm by calling (888) 213-8140 or learn more about the spill by searching our website – we have many articles that contain some helpful information. Should you be interested in pursuing a claim, contact our injury attorneys today.