Written by attorney David Phillip Folkenflik

Can Gulf Coast Charities, Non-Profits, and Churches File a BP Oil Spill Claim?

The simple answer is: YES!

In addition to ordinary "for-profit" businesses, what many people don't know is that charities and non-profit organizations, including churches and other houses of worship, can also qualify to make a BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill claim.

It makes sense in that, after the spill, when tourism dropped substantially in our gulfcoast areas, there was less money in the local economies. This translated, in many instances, to people giving fewer of their hard earned dollars to charities, non-profits, and even religious organizations. Everybody suffered.

BP has now put aside somewhere around $8.5 billion to satisfy such claims. If you have never applied for your business or organization, you should do it now. If you previously applied and got rejected, you should apply again since the rules have changed quite a bit, making it easier to qualify. Additionally, if your business or organization was operating before the April, 2010, BP oil spill, but you had to close down after the spill, you also likely qualify for a claim.

Many professional businesses, such as lawyers, title companies, Realtors, medical doctors, medical testing facilities, MRI and imaging centers, medical rehab, chiropractors, massage therapy, acupuncturists, bookkeepers and accountants may qualify to file a claim for their businesses as well.

Your business or organization does not have to be located near the beach. For example, in the Tampa Bay area, if your business was in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus, Manatee or Sarasota counties, you can qualify for a claim. As far as Florida goes, a business or organization in any county which touches the Gulf of Mexico, including the Florida Keys, may qualify to make a claim.

Even if your business or organization made more money after the oil spill happened, you should still see if you have a viable claim because you very likely could. Also, if you had to close your business after the oil spill, you could still have a valid BP claim.

Payouts on BP claims have been pretty big too. Many of these claims are settling for tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars. I am aware of several organizations who have recently received settlements in excess of $1 Million.

I am often asked how long it takes to start and finish a claim. Like all legal processes, the time can vary, but often the entire process, from start to finish can take under 6 months; sometimes well under.

The deadline for making a BP claim is in April, 2014. And, while that sounds a pretty long way off, you shouldn't delay, as the settlement fund money could run out before that time. Plus, the longer you wait the busier BP will likely get in processing claims, which means it will probably start taking longer and longer as we get closer to the filing deadline.

Although a few folks have told me they are having their "accountant" file a BP claim for them, this seems like a mistake to me. Keep in mind that because there is a right to appeal a negative decision, you really should have a lawyer handle your claim from the beginning. Legal expertise is important in this situation. Would you have an accountant represent in Court? I don't think that would be wise. Why then would you want them to handle your legal claim against BP?

If you would like more free information about what is required to make a BP claim, please feel free to contact me.

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