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FAQs.

FAQs

Why do I need an attorney?

BP has extensive resources dedicated to appealing oil spill claims, and so far, they have a 75% success rate. If claimants fail to follow the necessary steps, or fail to respond within the extremely strict appeals timeline, they may have their entire claim overturned, depriving them of any compensation for the damages they may have suffered as a result of the BP oil spill. As such, it is important that claimants work with an attorney who has experience fighting BP’s tactics and who can help ensure that all deadlines are met.

If you would like to learn more about what an attorney can do for you throughout the BP oil spill claim appeal process, contact the lawyers of Williams Kherkher today by calling 800-821-1544.

I just received a “notice of appeal.” What does this mean?

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, BP has the right to appeal certain claims. What this means is that they can dispute the amount granted to a claimant and, in many circumstances, actively seek to deny them any compensation whatsoever. A notice of appeal, therefore, is the first step in BP disputing a claim. The claimant has only 14 days to respond with an initial proposal following the notice of appeal.

If you would like to learn more about the notice of appeal, contact the oil spill claim appeal attorneys of Williams Kherkher today at 800-821-1544.

What does it mean if my claim is appealed?

Under the terms of the settlement agreement that established the Deepwater Horizon Claims Center (DHCC), BP has the right to appeal certain claims that may be initially approved by the DHCC. What this means is that BP can present its own proposal for what the claimant ought to receive for their claim, on the justification that the claimed or awarded amount was too large. In many cases, though, BP’s initial proposals in claims appeals are for $0, meaning that claimants who don’t fight back may lose everything.

If you would like to learn more about the BP oil spill claims appeal process, contact the claim appeal lawyers of Williams Kherkher at 800-821-1544 today.

How much time do I have to respond after receiving a notice of appeal?

Once a claimant has received a notice of appeal from BP, they have a very limited amount of time in which to respond with their own initial proposal for damages. The maximum amount of time that a claimant can wait to file this proposal is 14 days (calendar, not business). What this means is that, after 14 days, if a claimant fails to make an initial proposal to counter BP’s own, they will only receive compensation in the amount determined by BP, which is often nothing at all.

If you would like to learn more about what to do after receiving a notice of appeal, contact the BP claims appeal attorneys of Williams Kherkher today at 800-821-1544.

How long does the appeal process take?

When BP decides to appeal a claim for compensation through the Deepwater Horizon Claims Center (DHCC), there is a very tight timeline under which the process progresses. Once a claimant receives a notice of appeal (which BP must file within 10-20 days after being notified of eligibility to appeal), they have a maximum of 14 days to file their initial proposal. After this point, final proposals are due within 10 days of the initial proposal deadline.

If you would like to learn more about how long the appeal process takes, contact the lawyers of Williams Kherkher today at 800-821-1544.

Do I need an attorney for my Claim Appeal?

BP has hired a prominent defense firm to handle BP’s Claim Appeals, and so far, they claim to have a 75% success rate. If claimants deviate from the Claims Appeal Process laid out in the 1,033 page Class Action Settlement Agreement, or fail to respond within the extremely strict claim appeals deadlines, BP may win the appeal by default. This commonly results in the claimant receiving no compensation whatsoever, even after the Deepwater Horizon Settlement Program has determined the claimant is owed substantial money.

Claimants who are able to follow the complicated Claims Appeal Process still are at a tremendous disadvantage. BP has access to a repository of hundreds of Settlement Program Policy Decisions, Court Orders, and record evidence. Most claimants do not have access to these important documents, nor do they have a lawyer’s education, training, and experience. The Claims Appeal Process is adversarial. Nobody is looking out for your best interests in this process unless you hire a qualified team of attorneys to help you. As such, it is important that claimants work with an attorney who has experience fighting BP’s tactics and who can help ensure that all deadlines are met.

If you would like to learn more about what an attorney can do for you throughout the BP oil spill claim appeal process, contact the lawyers of Williams Kherkher today by calling 800-821-1544.

I just received a “notice of appeal.” What does this mean?

Under the Claims Appeal Process included in the 1,033 page Class Action Settlement Agreement, BP has the right to appeal Eligibility Notices over $25,000. This means BP has the legal right to dispute the amount of your claim, or whether your claim even qualifies for compensation in the first place. The notice of appeal is a legal document, and is the first step in the Claims Appeal Process. The claimant has only 14 days to respond with an initial proposal after receiving the notice of appeal.

If you would like to learn more about the notice of appeal, contact the oil spill claim appeal attorneys of Williams Kherkher today at 800-821-1544.

What is the Initial Proposal?

The Initial Proposal is where both sides set forth their legal arguments, supporting briefs, and record evidence in the Claims Appeal Process. The Initial Proposals include both side’s positions about: (i) the Compensation Amount (the amount of money both sides claim contend are owed through application of the various Compensation Frameworks included in the Class Action Settlement Agreement; (ii) the Risk Transfer Premium Amount (the amount of the RTP multiplier, which depends on the claimant’s location and business type); and (iii) the Prior Payment Offset Amount (the amount the claimant was previously paid on that claim). The purpose of the Initial Proposal is to require both sides to submit, in writing, their legal arguments in support of their respective positions. This allows the other side to respond to that position in the Final Proposals.

What is the Final Proposal?

The Final Proposal is where both sides set forth their final legal arguments, supporting briefs, and record evidence in the Claims Appeal Process. The Final Proposals include both side’s positions about the Compensation Amount, RTP Amount, and Prior Payment Offset Amount. The purpose of the Final Proposal is to provide the Appeal Panel with a full written record of all information necessary to decide the appeal.

What can I file in support of my Final Proposal?

The Settlement Agreement stipulates that the parties can file: (i) legal briefs (including citations to case law and other legal precedents) in support of their positions; (ii) the complete record of the Claimant in the Settlement Program; (iii) relevant portions of the Settlement Agreement and all of its attachments; (iv) Court rulings on similar issues; (v) prior Appeal rulings on similar issues; and (vi) Claims Administrator Policy Decisions.

Where do I find these supporting materials?

Unfortunately there is no repository of all of this information. While a claimant could theoretically assemble all of the available supporting material, realistically this would never happen because it would require a detailed review of several different sources. Additionally, few claimants have the specialized training required to conduct legal research on various elements of the Settlement Agreement.

I thought the Settlement Program was independent of BP. Why isn’t anyone from the Settlement Program helping me with my Claim Appeal?

While the Settlement Program is independent of BP, the Claims Appeal Process is an adversarial process between BP and the Claimant. The Settlement Program is not involved in the Claim Appeals Process. Once the Appeals Panel issues a ruling, the Settlement Program will issue a Post-Appeal Eligibility Notice conforming to the Appeals Panel’s decision. This means that if you lose a Claim Appeal, it is likely that you will then receive a Post-Appeal Eligibility Notice awarding you nothing on your claim.

I didn’t know my claim was appealed. Is it too late now?

If the Appeals Panel has already issued a ruling, it may be too late. If you are in this situation please call us immediately at 800-821-1544. It may be possible to salvage the situation, but time is of the essence.

BP is only appealing fraudulent claims, right?

Wrong. We have handled several Claim Appeals on behalf of hotels, marinas, restaurants, and other tourism businesses located in Zone A (directly adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico). While BP’s public relations campaign indicates it only appeals fraudulent claims, this is simply not true. In fact, BP has a history of appealing the most deserving claims, because these are typically high-dollar claims that BP apparently doesn’t want to pay.

I already hired a claim processor, won’t they handle this for me?

The answer depends on the contract you signed with your claim processor. We are personally aware that many of the most popular claim processors put language in their contracts that they will not handle Claim Appeals, or anything else that implicates a lawyer’s specialized knowledge and training. We believe they include this language because they want to avoid engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, which is illegal. Several prominent non-attorney claim processors have already been sued for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, and the trial court has issued an injunction prohibiting them from handling Claim Appeals.

If you are uncertain about whether your claim processor is handling your Claim Appeal please contact us today to discuss your situation. The Claim Appeal deadlines are very short, and this isn’t a situation that you can ignore without jeopardizing your Oil Spill Claim.

What is your fee for handling my Claim Appeal?

We typically charge a 10-15% contingent fee for handing your Claim Appeal. If we lose the Claim Appeal and you don’t recover on your claim, we get nothing. To obtain a copy of our Contingent Fee Contract and Power of Attorney, please contact us today.

Do I have to fire my current lawyer or claim processor to hire you?

No. We are happy to work with your current attorney or claims processor. In fact, most of our claims come from non-attorney claim processors who want a qualified law firm with a proven track record of winning Claim Appeals to handle their clients’ Claim Appeals.

What does Baseball Arbitration mean?

Paragraph 6.2 of the Claim Appeals Process stipulates the Appeal Panel must choose to award the claimant either the Claimant’s Final Proposal or BP’s Final Proposal, but no other amount. This process is called Baseball Arbitration because this is the system baseball players use when they arbitrate their compensation with their respective baseball team.

Baseball arbitration is unique because it prevents the “split the baby” phenomenon, where the Appeal Panel will choose an arbitrary number between the parties’ respective Final Proposals. Baseball arbitration truly is an “all or nothing” process in most cases. Baseball arbitration is intended to incentivize reasonable behavior on the part of the parties to the appeal. If you received an Eligibility Notice for $100,000, but request $1,000,000 in your Final Proposal, it is unlikely you will win because the Appeal Panel will believe you are overreaching.

Are there oral arguments for Claim Appeals?

No, the entire process is by submission. The Appeal Panel will only consider the parties’ Final Proposals and accompanying materials. If either party fails to timely file a Final Proposal, the Appeal Panel must choose the other side’s Final Proposal. This is called losing (or winning) by default. We estimate that BP has won hundreds of appeals by default because the Claimant (or their claim processor) simply was unaware of the Claim Appeal.

Is there any penalty for losing a Claim Appeal?

Yes. If BP initiates the appeal and loses the Settlement Program will increase the claimant’s Compensation Amount by 5%. Please bear in mind that the RTP percentage applies to the Compensation Amount, so this 5% increase will also trigger an increase of the RTP amount. Similarly, if the claimant initiates an appeal and loses, the Settlement Program will reduce the Compensation Amount by 5%.

Is there a filing fee for filing a Claim Appeal?

Yes. Filing fees range from $100 to $5,000, depending on the size of the Compensation Amount and who initiates the Claim Appeal.

If I hire you will you advance my filing fee?

Yes, we advance the cost of the filing fee.

BP filed a Claim Appeal on an issue that Judge Barbier already ruled on. Do I still have to respond to BP’s Appeal?

Yes. Although Judge Barbier issued an order prohibiting BP from appealing on certain issues, BP still continues to file appeals that implicate these issues. If BP files a Claim Appeal, you must respond or risk losing by default.

What are the Claim Appeal Deadlines?

Once a claimant receives a notice of appeal (which BP must file within 10-20 days after receiving the Eligibility Notice), the claimant has a maximum of 14 days to file their initial proposal. After this point, final proposals are due within 10 days of the initial proposal deadline.

How long does it take the Appeal Panel to rule after they get the Final Proposals?

There are no hard and fast deadlines for the Appeal Panel, and they can take as long as they want. That being said, our experience is that the Appeal Panel will usually issue their ruling in about 2 weeks from receiving the Final Proposals. As time goes on we expect it will take longer and longer, as the Appeal Panels will have to deal with more Claim Appeals.

Why do you need the information that’s on your Contact Form?

Because the Claim Appeals Process operates on very short deadlines, we need immediate information about the Claim Appeal to determine whether it meets our acceptance criteria. Our core philosophy is to only accept claimants that we believe we can help. If we are going to decline a Claim Appeal, we have an obligation to provide that decision in a timely manner so the claimant can make other arrangements. It is very important that you fill out every field in the Contact Form to allow us to make that decision.

If I lose my Claim Appeal can I ask Judge Barbier to review the decision?

Yes. Judge Barbier has set up a procedure for requesting such a review. However, he is not obligated to grant the request, and it is very unlikely that he is going to grant a request unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Is BP allowed to put down $0 in their Final Proposal when it is obvious that I lost money?

BP is allowed to put down any number it wants in the Final Proposal, and it frequently does put down $0. The Claim Appeals Process does not require BP to put down a “real” number.

What if I want to just pay you by the hour?

We do not accept hourly engagements. Our core philosophy is to be aligned with our clients. If we lose the Claim Appeal and you receive no payment we don’t feel like we deserve a fee. On the other hand, if we win your Claim Appeal and stop BP from paying you nothing, we believe we have earned our fee.

Will you accept a Claim Appeal the day before the Initial Proposals are due?

We might. If the Claim Appeal involves an issue we’ve already briefed we might be able to accept the engagement even on this short of a deadline. Our only hard and fast policy is we will not accept a new engagement for a Claim Appeal where the Final Proposal deadline has already expired.

Are there any free (pro bono) legal services for Claim Appeals?

Not to our knowledge.

How long does it take for me to get paid after you win my Claim Appeal?

It typically takes about 20 business days after the Settlement Program issues a Post-Appeal Eligibility Notice to issue payment.

Has BP really won 75% of Claim Appeals?

It is difficult to say because the Claims Administrator does not provide enough information to fully evaluate BP’s overall success rate on all types of claims. We do know that as of August 14, 2013, BP has initiated 2,583 appeals against 15,774 claims. BP’s success rate fluctuates depending on the type of claim. For example, we calculate that BP has prevailed 84% of the time on Claim Appeals involving Individual Economic Loss, but has only prevailed 65% of the time on Vessel of Opportunity Claims. One thing is clear, however: BP wins Claim Appeals more often than it loses.

If BP files a Claim Appeal, can I also file a Claim Appeal for the same claim?

Yes, if you have followed the Claim Appeals Process set forth in the Class Action Settlement Agreement. We do know from experience that BP may take the position that you are not allowed to file a cross-appeal if you do not follow the Claim Appeals Process to the letter.

I’ve read that BP has filed an appeal regarding the Class Action Settlement. Is this the same thing as a Claim Appeal?

No. BP has filed an appeal to the Fifth Circuit regarding Judge Barbier’s interpretation of the Settlement Agreement on several issues. This is totally separate from the Claim Appeals Process included in the Class Action Settlement.

Contact a Spill Claim Appeal Attorney

Contact us today to learn more about how we can put our knowledge and experience to work for you.

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