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BP Will Pay Victims 'Quick' if They Don't Sue

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By Laura Strachan, Esq. on December 15, 2010 8:51 AM

Part of a $20 billion fund for BP victims can be claimed as quickly as two weeks. Sound too good to be true? Well, of course, there is a catch: you can't sue. The April 20 oil spill that blew over 170 million gallons of crude oil into the water has been a very costly mistake for British Petroleum.

The BP quick pay program is designed to ease the administrative burden for BP and allow claimants to get some much-needed funds. Individuals can receive up to $5,000 and companies can claim $25,000 without presenting further documentation of a claim.

The program is available to the 160,000 individuals and companies that have already collected from the BP emergency fund and all it requires is a simple signature on the waiver giving up further rights to sue.

"There may be many, many individuals and many, many businesses that have no further documentation that would be perfectly satisfied with the quick claim," CNN quotes Gulf Coast Claims Facility Administrator Kenneth Feinberg. "It is designed to get readily quick cash to any claimant that for whatever reason feels that they are ready to accept $5,000 or $25,000 just to be done with it."

In situations such as this, the fine print is everything.

Signing the waiver and cashing the check limits any future recovery. Although the notion that no documentation is required to claim funds is appealing to many, it may have an unwanted financial downside down the line. Just because an individual or business does not have documentation now does not mean that a problem will not arise in the future that would have been eligible for some type of action against BP.

Signing the waiver is risking a future, potentially sizeable claim. Realistically evaluating BP's damage and understanding the nature of a waiver are two things BP victims should do before committing to the BP quick pay program.

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