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BP Oil Spill FAQ

Who is affected by the BP Oil Spill?

BP Oil SpillPeople who live on or near the Louisiana, Alabama and Florida beaches around the Gulf of Mexico, people whose income relies on the tourism industry in the Gulf of Mexico and people whose income relies on Gulf of Mexico, such as fishermen.

Even if your income is not directly related to the Gulf of Mexico, you could be affected by the oil spill. For example, people who rent or sell watercraft in the coastal regions of Louisiana, Alabama or Florida could see a dramatic decrease in income because people will not buy boats or other watercraft they cannot currently use in the Gulf of Mexico. Likewise, businesses that sell fishing gear (such as bait and tackle stores) may notice a drop in sales.

Who can file a lawsuit related to the BP oil spill?

There are a few groups of people who may be eligible to file lawsuits related to the BP oil spill. BP Oil Spill LawsuitThese include people who live on or near the beach and have suffered property damage or a drop in property value; people whose income depends on the tourism industry; and people whose income depends on the waters of the Gulf of Mexico itself, such as fishermen, shrimpers, and those working in the shipping industry.

Those in the hospitality industry, including owners and employees of Gulf region hotels and restaurants, may have suffered property and/or economic damage, the extent of which may depend on how far inland they are located.

Anyone who has suffered property damage, economic damage (such as loss of business or loss of income) or health problems may be able to file a lawsuit against those responsible for the BP oil spill.

I've heard that BP is making payments to certain individuals who file claims of damage. Does that mean I don't need to file a lawsuit?

Not necessarily. You should still contact an attorney to make sure you are properly compensated for all damages. Even if you file a claim, there is no guarantee you will receive enough money to cover all your costs or your future losses.

Is it true that there is a $75M cap on the amount of damages BP--or whoever is responsible for the spill--will pay?

BP Oil Spill Deepwater HorizonThis is partially true. The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 limited the amount of economic damages oil companies pay to $75 million; however, BP has reportedly acknowledged that it will have to pay more than $75 million to settle claims. To date, the company has also, according to CNN (6/16/10) agreed to set aside $20 billion in an escrow fund to cover all legitimate disaster claims.

Furthermore, according to CNN (6/06/10), BP wouldn't be allowed to use that $75 million cap to its advantage if the company or its contractors operated with gross negligence or violated federal law. Finally, the US government is considering legislation that would raise the cap in economic damages from $75 million to $10 billion.

Who is responsible for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill?

BP Oil Spill Clean-upAlthough investigations and hearings are ongoing, some lawsuits have already been filed related to the oil spill. So far, BP Plc, who leases the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, Transocean Ltd, who owns the oil rig, and Halliburton, who was reportedly involved in cementing operations of the well and well cap, have all be named as defendants in lawsuits.

I've been working for and getting paid by BP during the oil spill clean-up. Does that mean I can't file a lawsuit for economic damages related to loss of work?

No. Initially, BP people who were being paid by the company signed a legal waiver, waiving their rights to file a lawsuit. The company has since announced that it will not enforce that waiver. This means that even if you are paid by BP, you may still file a lawsuit for economic damages.

What evidence do I need to have to file a lawsuit?

There are a few things you can do to collect evidence that you've been affected by the oil spill. If you have any property damage, take photos of the damage as soon as it occurs. Document any steps you take to repair your property and hold on to all receipts, invoices and other paperwork related to your property damage.

If you have a business that was affected by the oil spill, keep all documentation of business losses or expenses incurred as a result of the spill.

What steps should I take to protect myself or my property from oil damage?

BP Oil Spill DamagesIf officials or authorities recommend you take certain steps to lessen the damage, you are expected to make reasonable attempts to follow those instructions. Keep documentation of what instructions you've been given and how you've followed those instructions.

What if I live near the beach but not on it?

Even people who live near the beach could find their property value is affected by the oil spill. People who live in close proximity to the beach may have paid extra for their home because the beach is an attraction. Loss of use of the beach affects property value and means you don't have use of something you paid to have use of.

My business may be affected by the oil spill. Can I file a lawsuit?

If you have a reasonable expectation that your business has been negatively affected by the oil spill, contact an attorney to discuss your options. Even if your business has not yet been affected, if there is a chance you will have damage in the future, an attorney may be able to help you.
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Last updated on Jun-25-10

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