Gulfport attorney offers advice for those hurt financially by oil spill

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - By Rebecca Powers – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - If you are thinking about filing a claim or lawsuit against BP, here's some free advice from trial attorney Joe Sam Owen of Gulfport. He wants everyone to know that this falls under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. That means there's a three year statute of limitations.

So unlike the standard one year to file a lawsuit, like in most tort cases, you have three years to file for financial losses. But there is some legwork involved.

"They're going to want tax returns, PNL statements," Owen said. "You have to prove you have a loss of income and sometimes that can be difficult."

But the longer window to file will give those making claims more time to prepare.

"I think it is very important because in some cases, not all, it may take an individual six, eight even nine months to really determine his loss."

BP has urged anyone who may have a claim, to file it. Owen said don't get discouraged if your claim is denied at first. He thinks a lot of people will give up too quickly, like many did after Katrina. His advice is to stay strong and pursue your claim, if you feel it is truly legitimate.

"There are going to be a number of individuals whose claims are going to be denied and they are just going to say, 'It's not worth it. I'm not even going to mess with it.' And they're going to walk."

If your claim is denied and you do decide to file suit, Joe Sam Owen wants to caution everyone who may be searching for an attorney.

"They came out of the woodwork in Katrina, and people need to be careful. I'm sure they have a family lawyer or some attorney that they trust or family member that they trust they need consult with before signing up with some large firm that's advertising."

If you have an oil spill claim, there are three locations on the Mississippi Coast where you can file your paperwork. One is in St. Martin on Lemoyne Boulevard in the Sicily's shopping center. In Pascagoula, the office is on Old Mobile Highway, just off Industrial Road. And in Bay St. Louis, the office is on Highway 90, east of the post office.

Remember, claims are now being handled by the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which is administered by Ken Feinberg. Learn more about the claims process by visiting http://www.gulfcoastclaimsfacility.com.

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