The Court-Supervised Program for victims of the Deepwater Horizon disaster has been successful since it opened earlier this Spring. Prior to the court’s work, British Petroleum had its own hiree, lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, operating on its behalf with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF). Under Feinberg’s leadership, the program denied BP claims of honest Gulf Coast citizens who stood in need of financial assistance. Feinberg did what he did in order to alleviate the financial burden BP would bear as a result of its role in the Gulf Coast oil spill. He admits, however, in his new book, “Who Gets What,” that he was not prepared for the BP oil spill. If Feinberg was not prepared, and he was active in the Virginia Tech shooting compensation, how about the victims of the BP oil spill?
The new court-appointed system established eighteen claimant assistance centers on June 4, 2012, and added to the number of claimant centers open on the Gulf Coast. Kenneth Feinberg was replaced by Patrick Juneau, and he and his staff set to work on filing BP claims for needy victims. Juneau told Gulf Coast citizens to apply regardless of whether or not they believe they are eligible; the goal of the new court-appointed program was to sift through eligibility issues. As a result, Gulf Coast citizens in large numbers have filed for monies from the BP oil spill compensation fund and it looks as if Gulf Coast citizens are hearing the message and acting therein.
For many, however, the situation takes a turn for the worst when you receive a response back that says “your claim has been denied”. What are you to do? Some talk to a BP oil spill attorney who can help them with the legalities of their claim; however, what do you do if you cannot afford legal counsel? You are left on your own. Do not despair; there is a reason why your claim was denied. Most individuals do not fall in the fraudulent camp, although the number of fraudulent BP claims has risen since 2010. Many, however, have been denied their rightful oil spill compensation because they do not possess the proper documentation. Patrick Juneau, head of the court-supervised settlement program (CSSP), provided an update report on the court program on September 5, 2012. In that report, Juneau details that forty percent of all claims applicants do not have the proper documentation they need to receive their compensation. This may include tax forms, financial documents, and proof of financial hardship. The issue is not that your claim is fraudulent; rather, you need to provide specific, financial statements to support your claim. Regardless of how genuine your case is, lack of proper documentation will result in a denial.
The majority of BP claims, however, were incomplete; that is, victims failed to take the time to complete all the required questions and fill out the required boxes in order to have their claim processed successfully. This may be a result of some victims who cannot read their forms, or victims do not understand what a form means or what information the form requests from them. If you are in this situation, you should consult a representative at a local claimant assistance center near you for help. If possible, hire a BP oil spill attorney who can help you read through the paperwork and fill it out properly. You do not want a form to stand in the way of the rest of your life.