BP Oil Spill Claims
Evaluations and Payment Process
Were you in business or operating a non-profit during the BP Oil Spill in April, 2010? This is the sixth in a series explaining the Court Supervised Settlement. At this link, you can find the first five installments. (For questions regarding your eligibility in the Settlement Program, use this contact form.)
Because of the complexity of the agreement, a cursory review of financial statements by business owners may result in the conclusion that they cannot participate. When a team of lawyers, CPA s and Chartered Financial Analysts review the same materials often six and seven-figure claims are identified. It is advisable to have an appropriate team of professionals to determine the existence and value of any possible claim.
THE EVALUATION PROCESS AND CONTINGENCY FEES
A professional evaluation begins with an authorization to a law firm to represent the client’s interests in the BP Settlement Process. Once a client provides monthly profit-and-loss statements and related tax returns for the years 2007 through 2011, that information is evaluated. If business operations do not cover all those years, of course, only the periods of operation are needed. 2007 to 2011 are periods that may be used in calculations involving the claims process, and having the data for all years allowed can affect both eligibility and maximizing a claim’s value.
The first step is to determine if a valid claim exists. When the work is done for the client on a contingency basis, should the team determine no claim exists, the client will have no costs. If the evaluation indicates a valid claim, further work will be done to calculate the claim’s value, prepare and file the claim. In the event of an unsuccessful claim, with a proper contingency agreement the client owes nothing. For a successful claim, an agreed upon percentage of the paid claim will determine the professional fees.
TIME FRAMES INVOLVED IN THE CLAIM PROCESS
When an evaluation indicates a valid claim, the Settlement Program requires final documents. Upon receipt and preparation of the final documents, the claim is submitted to the court’s Claims Administrator. Once the administrator makes a finding, a Letter of Determination is issued. Currently payments are being made within four to six months following the Letter of Determination.
The Claims Administrator is expecting more than 800,000 claims. Claims are being handled on a first in/first out basis. As more claims are filed, the time line for payment grows longer. With that in mind, it is better to file sooner rather than later. There is no cost to inquire about your eligibility at this link.