If you suffered economic losses or property damage as a result of the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill you need to make yourself aware of the the details of the recent class action settlements, as the deadline to opt out of the settlement is October 1, 2012. The settlements are complicated and there are numerous deadlines to be aware of. It is a good idea to hire a lawyer to help with your claim---and most lawyers do not charge a fee or costs unless there is a recovery in the case (you will not have to pay the lawyer until the end of the case). Here are some important details:
1. Even if your claim was denied by the GCCF you still may have a valid claim under the class action settlement. In other words, if you or your business suffered economic losses as a result of the Gulf Oil Spill, you should strongly consider participating in the class action settlement and submitting a timely claim form.
2. Claim Forms will be available June 4, 2012, and claims can be submitted right away. Payments will be made on a rolling basis. That means that the sooner your claim is submitted, the sooner you will be paid.
3. The deadline for submitting claims under the settlement depends on whether you have a claim in the "Seafood Compensation Program" (e.g. commercial fishermen, deckhands, oystermen, shrimpers, etc.). For Seafood Compensation Program Claims, the deadline to submit the claim will be 30 days after the Court grants final approval to the settlement. We do not yet know when this will happen---but it will likely be shortly after the "fairness hearing" that is scheduled for November 8, 2012.
For economic loss and property damage claims that are not involved in the Seafood Compensation Program the deadline for submitting claims is April 22, 2014 or six months after the Settlement becomes effective (after final court approval and any appeals are resolved), whichever date is later.
4. For some potential claimants who are members of the class, it may be beneficial to "opt out" of the Gulf Oil Spill Settlement. To Opt out of the BP Settlement you must mail your written request to Opt Out stating "I wish to be excluded from the Economic & Property Damages Class" by October 1, 2012 to Deepwater Horizon Court-Supervised Settlement, Exclusions Department, PO Box 222, Hammond, LA 70404-0222. You cannot opt out by phone, email or on the website. If you choose to opt out of the economic class action BP Settlement you must opt out for all claims you have. Opting out is an important decision that each individual/business needs to make carefully and with a full understanding of the consequences. An attorney can be very helpful in this regard.
5. A great resource of information about the Gulf Oil Spill settlement with BP is the court notice of settlement.pdf
6. The Court recently issued a court notice of settlement.pdf to potential class members explaining their options and providing information about the settlement. The notice packet also contained Zone Maps 5.20.12.pdf for the impacted areas (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida). The Court has indicated that if potential claimants have questions they can go to deepwaterhorizonsettlements.com or call 1-866-992-6174.
Another good resource for information about the settlement is on our website.