Caught in Red Tape, Gulf Coast Claims Should Soon Be Addressed

Friday, July 30, 2010

A BP gas station logo is pictured in Manchester, north-west England, on July 27, 2010. (Andrew Yates/AFP/Getty)

Over 130,000 people have filed for damages due to the Gulf Oil Spill. They include shrimpers, realtors, deckhands, rig workers, restaurant owners and fish distributors from every Gulf State, and seven states beyond. Getting their checks from BP has been difficult. Only a third of the 130,000 claims against BP have been paid out. The rest are stuck in an whirlpool of red tape.

According to BP claims statistics, they are "erroneous," "duplicate," "having contact difficulty," and "evaluating for payment." Almost half are "awaiting documentation." And as for the 300 lawsuits that have been filed over damage claims: It hasn't been decided which judge would hear the cases or which state they'd be heard in.

That's about to change. On Thursday a panel of seven federal judges convened in Boise, Idaho, to map out the process for litigating suits from the Gulf. In the next few weeks, Ken Feinberg will take charge of BP's $20 billion in "quick-release" money. As the federal government starts carving out channels for money to flow through, we check in with the claimants who are waiting.

Professor Howard Erichson, of Fordham Law School, joins us to help sort out the legalities. 



Professor Howard Erichson

Produced by:

Posey Gruener and Hsi-Chang Lin

Comments [3]

Phillip A. Crimaldi from Denver, CO

One question surely remains:

Why is all the focus on the legal/justice system and attorneys? How many attorneys can say they have opened and closed 300 claims in that many days for damages without litigation or so much as writing a settlement offer?

Independent insurance adjusters & appraisers have experience dealing with extensive losses (Hurricane Katrina, etc) in property damage and business interruption coverages. Some adjusters have experience in extremely large industrial projects - each generally having their own unique niche in a world where everyone is after wealthy companies.

I contributed to an article earlier this week discussing similar content:

Not all "adjusters" are bad and not all are storm chasers either - many having year round careers at respectable businesses.

Independent Adjusters know how to protect themselves and the party paying their fee from lawsuits for unfair (short) payments, while also being able to protect the claimant by creating a fair settlement and documenting evidence for future review if necessary.

These unique types of insurance claim professionals are often paid by insurers and global third party (claim) administrators but are valued for their "independent" opinion. When considering the amount of a loss, independents rarely think of their often temporary employer and recommend payment for what the damages actually add up to. Fear of an error and omission lawsuit against the adjuster from either BP or the claimant helps to keep the adjuster's opinion in a neutral and fair area.

Consideration should be made by the various justice departments to allow these knowledgeable loss and damage assessors to assist the claimants AND British Petroleum in this urgent time.

Attorneys can clean up the leftovers.

Jul. 30 2010 09:41 AM

Aside from the pathetically outdated name of the show, Celeste's pronunciation challenges and the pompous, smarmy pretentiousness of John Hockenberry: What possessed NPR and WNYC to feature this program?


Jul. 30 2010 07:55 AM
Brian J. Donovan

The following perspective on the BP Oil Spill Victim Compensation Fund may be of interest:

Jul. 30 2010 06:53 AM

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