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.
BP Final Claim Attorney
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. One final thing to keep in mind is that once you retain the services of an attorney, you will have to have your attorney represent you throughout the claims process.
There are several advantages to having an attorney to process your BP final claim. First, attorneys do these types of cases for a living. They are very familiar with all of the procedures and they know all the ins and outs. They know exactly what you will need to win and they can help you think of things that you may not have thought of on your own. Attorneys also know many important people. Often, they are able to get things done much faster than the average person without an attorney.
If you have decided to retain the services of an attorney, you need to make sure that you get a good attorney. There are several ways to find an attorney that meets your needs. The easiest way is to call your state or local bar association. Most of these organizations provide a free referral service to an attorney who specializes in your type of case. Another option would be to search online or to ask other victims who they are using. You can also look in your local phonebook—the yellow pages usually have attorneys organized by specialization. Once you have decided upon an attorney, you need to assemble all the necessary documents that will serve as proof of your losses. Any documents proving loss of income, loss of wages, or loss of revenue will bolster your claim. Business owners will need profit and loss statements for 2009. Employees of companies that incurred losses from the spill will need pay stubs and W-2 forms for 2009 for verification. Your attorney will tell you if he or she needs anything else.
Keep in mind also that, while it is smart to have an attorney, you are not required to have an attorney to file your claim. You have the fundamental right to represent yourself in your claim against BP. This is called suing “pro se”, or representing yourself in the court. It’s not the best plan of action, but it is totally legal and you can collect all the paperwork from the court house where you plan on suing. As a side note, keep in mind that court clerks are forbidden by law from offering you any legal advice. Only attorneys can do this.