There is an availability of funds under the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) and the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (OSLTF) for Louisiana residents who have suffered property damage because of the crude oil washing ashore. Oil damage to boats is treated differently from other forms of personal property damage under the guidelines of the OPA. As required by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, certain information must be provided to the responsible party to submit an oil spill loss claim. Just one example includes a provision that boat captains from Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. Bernard and Terrebonne Parish will need to present the following information to BP and other responsible parties will filing their oil spill claims.
The U.S. Coast Guard’s National Pollution Funds Center website details that a boat’s owner can submit claims relating to the removal of oil stains from the vessel (interior furnishings upholstery and carpeting included) so that the vessel may be restored to its condition before the oil damage. Claims may also be filed for the damage done to a boat’s motor, rudder, anchor winch and other mechanical parts of the vessel harmed by oil.
In general, all claimants, regardless of what losses they are claiming, are required to provide the following;
1. Photo Identification
2. Tax Returns from 2007- 2009- However claims representatives have indicated they will take fewer years.
3. Any appropriate licenses (captain licenses, etc.) that someone in that line of work would normally have.
Louisiana boat captains will also need to provide the following for an oil loss
1. Log Books with cancellation information
2. Contact information for clients who cancelled trips
3. A list of continuing expenses
Boat captains will undoubtedly be affected for years to come by the negligent parties associated with this oil spill. Once a claim determination is made, a claimant must either accept or reject the offer within 60 days. If the offer is accepted, a release must be signed. If no action is taken within 60 days, the offer to pay the oil spill claim will be voided and the claim is closed. If the boat captain decides to reject the offer this can start an entirely new review process. Another claim determination will be made as a result of the reconsideration and the final determination on the matter becomes final. The claims adjusters do not consider the reconsideration process to be a negotiation.
The problem with this process is that, once a release is signed, boat captains potentially will not be able to make claims for losses incurred over the next few years for their oil spill claim losses. If a boat captain decides to sign a release in the next few months and the oil spill causes his business to fall next year surely the responsible parties will deny his claim by asserting the release caused all claims to be settled at the time it was signed. For this reason alone it is important that individuals have a legal expert inspect the claim and make sure that their rights are protected for years to come.
The Berniard Law Firm is currently handling oil spill claims for boat captains and is advising against signing any and all releases that will cap damages at only this years losses. If you want to speak with a lawyer today about your oil spill claim as a boat captain call 1-866-574-8005 for a free consultation.