New BP Oil settlement process should help victims

Last April’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico disrupted the lives and livelihoods of residents from Florida to Texas, an area heavily dependent on the tourism industry. In response to the disaster and in accordance with the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, BP established a $20 billion fund called the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) to review claims from businesses and individuals impacted by the spill in order to provide compensation for their losses. Since its inception in August 2010, the GCCF has been plagued by complaints of inconsistency, lack of transparency, and intentional delay in issuing decisions on submitted claims.

Since the settlement a new claims process has started.

This new process is discussed in this video news update with attorneys Wes Farrell and Rick Kuykendall

 Key points

* Many claimants can recover 60 pct of money immediately

* BP sees $7.8 billion payout under new payout program

* New program replaces fund overseen by Kenneth Feinberg

* BP still faces large potential fines from US government

According to Thursday's order, claimants with final offers from Feinberg can recover 60 percent of their money immediately. If they are deemed eligible under the new program, then they may receive the remaining 40 percent or wait for new awards, which may be higher but take months to determine.

Until the new program is set up, claims will be reviewed during a transition period, and successful claimants can also get 60 percent of their money. Remaining claims would be determined entirely under the new program.

Lawyers on the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee, which negotiated the settlement with BP, have said the new program will be fair and transparent, although some lawyers outside that process have questioned whether it will be an improvement.