The closer you move to the coast, the less stringent the financial test becomes. In Zone C for instance (anywhere from 1 mile to approximately 20 miles inland), your 2010 revenue for any three month period between May and December must only be down 8.5% and up only 5% during the same months in 2011. Finally, in Zone A, largely comprised of barrier islands, there is no financial test to meet. Most business operations in Zone A automatically qualify.
The Agreement is very nuanced and there are many exceptions to what is stated above. As such, it is important to consult with an experienced BP claims attorney to understand your options.
We will then begin a forensic accounting review which may take two to six weeks. Upon completion we will submit your claim to the Claims Administrator. In general, should we be successful, you should expect payment within twelve to eighteen months.
It should be noted that the Claims Administrator expects over 300,000 claims to be filed. Currently approximately 225,000 claims have been filed. We believe that the sooner you file (and take your place in line), the sooner payment will be made. While we cannot control the Claims Administrator’s process, common sense dictates that as more claims are filed, the timeline for payment may extend. All things being equal, it is better to file now than later.
Do we really need outside counsel? Can our corporate attorney handle this? Can we do this on our own, in-house?
Finally, we have encountered many general practice attorneys, in-house counsel, CPA’s and para-professionals (claims “adjusters” and “consultants”) who simply do not understand the complexity of this voluminous Settlement Agreement. A recent report issued by the Claims Administrator highlighted the significant number of claims that are being denied outright or returned for deficiencies because they were prepared by inexperienced and unqualified attorneys or non-lawyer para-professionals. The old adage “you get what you pay for” is apropos.
We also run into those who believe that they have suffered a loss as a result of the oil spill, but are concerned that they may not be able to prove to a jury a direct correlation between the spill and their financial circumstances. The parties to this Agreement were very intentional in designing the qualification criteria in a way that does not require a conventional causation analysis, as it would be nearly impossible to isolate the exact impact of the oil spill on Gulf area businesses. Rather, certain formulas are applied to determine if a loss you experienced was the result of the spill. If your revenue trend corresponds with the parameters dictated by these formulas, then all losses are presumed to have been caused by the incident.
After reviewing thousands of monthly profit and loss statements, we can report that many businesses were impacted by the spill as defined by this Agreement. Only through a forensic accounting analysis will this be apparent. The trickle down effect is clearly evident on many businesses’ books.
“We believe the Settlement, which avoids years of lengthy litigation, is good for the people, businesses and communities of the Gulf and is in the best interests of BP’s stakeholders.”