Oil Spill FAQ - FindLaw
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors| Last reviewed June 20, 2016
Q: How do I submit a Deepwater Horizon legal claim?
With any disaster of such magnitude, many victims will have a wide variety of legal claims stemming from the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. A large number of these will be litigated as class action or individual lawsuits. BP has also begun accepting claims. The company has committed to pay legitimate and objectively verifiable claims for loss and damage caused by the spill. This may include claims for:
- Mitigation and clean up of spilled oil;
- Real and property damage caused by the oil;
- Personal injury caused by the spill;
- Commercial losses, including loss of earnings and profit; and
- Other losses as contemplated by applicable laws and regulations
While BP's claim information states that no person submitting a claim to BP will be required to waive the right to submit other claims or participate in separate legal actions relating to the Deepwater Horizon incident, to fully understand your legal rights and how they might be affected by filing a claim through BP, you should consider contacting an attorney.
If an attorney will represent you, the attorney must handle the BP claim for you. Claims may be submitted online at: http://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/gulf-of-mexico-restoration/claims-information.html. You may also call BP's toll-free claims line, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at: 1-800-440-0858.
Those who have already pursued the BP claims process and are not satisfied with BP's resolution, may call the Coast Guard's National Pollution Fund Center (NPFC) at (800) 280-7118. You can also visit the NPFC's Web site for more information: http://www.uscg.mil/npfc/Claims/default.asp.
For more information on seeking relief, see the federal Restore the Gulf website.
Q: Who is trying to contain and clean up the Deepwater Horizon oil spill?
A Unified Command was formed to respond and mitigate environmental damages resulting from the Deepwater Horizon incident. It is made up of the private companies involved in the incident (BP and Transocean), along with a host of federal agencies. The Deepwater Horizon Unified Command connects the organizations responding and provides a forum for those organizations to make consensus decisions.
The Deepwater Horizon Unified Command's Joint Information Center provides coordinated and updated information about the response to the Deepwater Horizon crisis.
Q: Who is investigating the Deepwater Horizon incident and response?
The US Coast Guard and Mineral Management Service created a Deepwater Horizon Joint Investigation to find out the cause of the incident to the fullest extent possible, promote safety of life and property at sea, and obtain information for the purpose of preventing or reducing the effects of similar casualties in the future. Some of this will happen through public hearings conducted under the procedures for a Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation.
The Joint Investigation Team cannot itself charge anyone with a crime, but it may refer any findings of criminal misconduct to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution. Its findings and conclusions, once approved by the Coast Guard and Mineral Management Service, will be released in a final report.
On May 22, President Obama signed an Executive Order creating a bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, tasked with providing recommendations on how to prevent and mitigate the impact of any future spills resulting from offshore drilling.
Other federal probes relating to the Deepwater Horizon incident include those by:
- the newly formed Interior Department Outer Continental Shelf Safety Board;
- the House Energy and Commerce Committee;
- the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee;
- the National Academy of Engineering; and
- the Interior Department review Minerals Management Service conduct and procedures; and
Q: What are federal regulators and the states doing to ensure food safety?
The US Food and Drug Administration operates a mandatory safety program for all fish and fishery products under the provisions of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, the Public Health Service Act, and related regulations. The FDA program includes research, inspection, compliance, enforcement, outreach and the development of regulations and industry guidance.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has the authority to close federal waters to prevent harvesting and states have the authority to close waters within the state 3-mile limit. The FDA is working with both NOAA and the states to monitor the situation and ensure that appropriate closures are in place as needed. If, despite these steps, adulterated seafood is found on the market, both FDA and the states have the authority to seize such products.
Q: How can I report an oil sighting?
- Report oiled shoreline at: 1-866-448-5816
- Report oiled wildlife at: 1-866-557-1401
- Discuss spill related damage at: 1-800-440-0858