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 (which typically benefit the claimant) to what is stated above. As such, it is important to consult with an experienced BP claims attorney to maximize your options.
We will then begin a forensic accounting review which may take two to six weeks. Upon completion we will provide you with a detailed report for your final approval. Upon approval we will submit your claim to the Claims Administrator. In general, should we be successful, you should expect payment within four to six months.
It should be noted that the Claims Administrator expects over 800,000 claims to be filed. Currently approximately 160,000 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? Or 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 they do not deserve compensation as they cannot prove a direct correlation between the oil spill and their financial circumstances. The parties to this agreement were very intentional in designing the compensation 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 you qualify for payment. If your revenue trend corresponds with the parameters dictated by these formulas, then all losses are presumed - irrefutably - to have been caused by the oil spill.
After reviewing thousands of monthly profit and loss statements, we can report that even businesses located well inland with little or no exposure to tourism, seafood or hospitality were impacted 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.”
Finally, an important component of the agreement is a separate fund supported by BP that will be used to get the word out about the compensation program. Maybe you’ve seen the TV ads?
The practical effect is that should the uncollected oil at some point wash onto our shores, or the disbursement chemicals cause some other ecological disaster, and you have not participated by April 2014, you will have no recourse. The only exception is if you have already proactively “opted out” by notifying the Court in writing by November 1, 2012.