At two stages in the process of your BP claims settlement, you may find yourself either needing or wanting to take the case to the court system instead. One consideration in accepting a final settlement of your claim with BP is that by accepting their offer, you must agree to forfeit any future claims you might have against BP.
What happens if I take the BP Claims Settlement ?
In other words, once you accept their money, you can no longer ever sue them again over any matter related to the Deepwater Horizon accident or oil spill. You may decide that you either want to reject their offer. Perhaps you believe you will win more in front of a jury of your peers in a court of law than through the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) claims settlement process. If you pursue this route, then you forfeit your claims settlement through the GCCF and agree to accept the court’s verdict instead. If you find a group of people with similar claims and similar circumstances to your own, you might consider filing a class action lawsuit rather than filing many individual lawsuits separately.
Taking your BP Claims Settlement to court
The other way that your BP claims settlement might end up in court is feeling that your GCCF award is insufficient and deciding to appeal to a higher power. If you are unhappy with the award you are given from the GCCF, you have the right to appeal your case to the United States Coast Guard and/or the federal court system. For those who receive $250,000 or more, there is a three-judge panel who will hear appeals from those who feel they did not receive enough. Though there is no official “cap” on loss and damage claims, BP has said that it does reserve the right to appeal any award over $500,000. An appeal is a very complicated procedure involving a mountain of paperwork and dealing with very strict rules, especially in the court system. If you get to this stage, you really need to consider retaining the services of an attorney. Even a minor misstep or breach of court rules can result in an automatic loss of your claim and you could even be held liable for all of the court costs.
Having an Attorney handle your BP Claims Settlement
Though you do not have to have an attorney to file a claim with BP, or to sue BP, or to join a class action law suit, it is always preferable to have one. Attorneys are experts in these matters, and you will definitely do yourself a favor by retaining one. Most attorneys in these types of matters will be willing to take your case as on “contingency”. This means you do not have to put down any money up front. Instead, the attorney will take a certain percentage of your final judgment—your “winnings”. This percentage will normally be in the range of 20-45%, depending on how complex your claim is. If you lose your case, you will only owe court costs in most cases, and your attorney will receive nothing. This is a strong incentive for your attorney to work extra hard to win your case. When looking at the offer your get for your BP Claims Settlement consider if you could get more via a lawsuit