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The new $20 billion BP fund opened today, and many potential claimants are scrambling for information to get started. The new BP fund, which is being paid in addition to the $368 million already paid, is being managed by the new Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) headed up by Washington attorney Ken Feinberg. Feinberg is known for handling the 9/11 victims fund as well as setting the executive pay for companies bailed out by the government. The Obama administration and BP worked to establish the GCCF to assist claimants in filing claims for damages and economic losses incurred from the April 20 BP oil spill.
Feinberg spoke before Congress last week and was adamant that claimants will be better off going through Gulf Coast Claims Facility than going through the courts. "I don't want people going to court," Feinberg told the House Committee on Small Business, The Associated Foreign Press reports. "I want people coming to the fund. Why should a claimant spend five years in court ... and owe money to a lawyer rather than come into the Gulf Coast claims facility," and get a payment settled quickly and relatively easily, he said.
The key for potential claimants: no rights to sue are waived by accepting emergency payments for up to six months of documented losses. That means that claimants should not delay in making their claims for damages arising out of the BP oil spill. Claimants that delay until after the six months could see their right to sue denied, The AFP reports. Feinberg said that no decision has been made as to whether claims made after the six-month window will be accepted.
Claimants can go to one of 35 Gulf Coast Claims Facility offices set up in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. In addition, claimants can apply by mail, or online at www.gulfcoastclaimsfacility.com.