Gulf Oil Spill – What Are Your Rights?

By | May 5, 2011

We all know that the oil spill that took place in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 was a devastating ecological event on par with some of the more notable pollution disasters of our time. The news fed us images of oil-slicked birds and dead fish washing up on shore and we immediately knew there must have been a major environmental impact to have changed the sea in such a way. So it’s not surprising that a lot of people, whose livelihoods depend on the health of the Gulf of Mexico, were deeply affected by the spill.Fishers, shrimpers, restaurants – heck, anyone who dealt with the sea on a daily basis – was affected by BP’s oil spill.  That’s why a system was set up in order to make payments back into the Gulf community, help local businessmen get through the crisis, and generally feed money back into an economy that sorely needed it.  What was the result?

Well, as it turns out, if you’ve been affected by the oil spill in the Gulf, then you certainly may be entitled to a certain amount of rights, including payments that people not affected by the oil spill won’t be able to claim.  It’s a tremendous opportunity not only to get your business back on track, but your life back to where it was before the sea turned darker and odd things started turning up on shore. In this article you’ll find out about the various rights that people affected by this oil spill have been granted not only by the U.S. government, but by BP, a company that certainly could use the public relations boost and certainly would like to make things right again. Let’s take a look at the rights you can expect if you’ve been affected.

Basic Rights Met First

Of course, without some basic rights being met, the other rights granted to the BP oil spill victims don’t really mean quite so much.  But what are these “basic rights”? Well, you’ll find, for example, that your claims to BP can’t be changed based on a number of factors like your gender, your age, your sexual orientation, your race, religion, or national origin. Just like many federal laws put in place not to discriminate based on these factors, the Gulf Coast claims handed out won’t be able to, either. That’s good news if all you are focused on is getting your business up and running again, not on breaking down barriers once again.

Another “basic” right is equal access to these claims. For example, if you have a disability, there can be certain accommodations made for you so that you aren’t given access to claims simply on the basis of your inability to access them as you are. This helps wipe out the worry for the people who already have disadvantages; it’s not fun to think about not only how you’re going to rebuild your profession or your business, but also how you’re going to get a claim in the first place. If you aren’t given special concessions based on a disability, you have the right to complain and even make challenges.

You’ll also find that your basic privacy will be protected, which means that it won’t be published exactly how much money you’ve been given. This is a good deal if you don’t want awkward interactions at a local bar after everyone’s heard how much you’ve gotten from a claim and demand that you buy everyone “a round.”

Other issues, like timely payment and access to information, are also covered in the Gulf Coast Claims Facility Frequently Asked Questions.

Who Can Make Claims?

Of course, none of these basic rights really matter if you aren’t able to file any claims in the first place. That’s why it’s so important to know who can make claims, and not only that – what constitutes a valid claim for receiving Gulf Coast compensation benefits.

Essentially, there are a few basic types of claims you can make, including:

●     Compensation for cleanup costs

●     Damage to property

●     Lost earnings/profits

●     Loss of “subsistence use” of natural resources

●     Injury or death

Obviously, these are some pretty serious things to happen – for example, owning property near the shore and having a lot of cleanup costs because of the oil spill will mean that you’ve probably got a valid claim. And if someone you know was injured because of the oil spill, then there are certainly claims to be made. While some claims will necessarily be less serious and less costly than others, these are all claims that would fall under the umbrella of the Gulf compensation efforts.

In some cases, you may actually be entitled to compensation even when you didn’t think you were. For example, if you spent money preparing for the oil spill – not even necessarily taking direct action on it – then you may be entitled to compensation. After all, if the oil spill hadn’t come your way, you wouldn’t have otherwise spent that money. That’s a good rule of thumb to understand how genuine a claim can be: did you have to spend money or exert effort because of the oil spill that you wouldn’t have otherwise spent or exerted? Then you’ve probably got a claim.

People looking to make a buck off of the oil spill certainly exist, so it’s no surprise that there are a number of claims that wouldn’t be considered valid. For example, if you bought a plasma TV “because of the oil spill,” well, there’s a good chance you won’t be compensated for that.

But pay attention to your rights, understand the regulations, and you’ll do just fine.

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