BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The administrator of the $20 billion BP compensation fund has announced a new "quick pay" option for claimants who'd like to settle their losses from the oil spill and receive extra money for agreeing not to file a lawsuit.
Kenneth Feinberg said Monday under the new "quick pay" option, anyone who received any emergency loss payments through the claims program will be eligible for an added $5,000. Businesses can receive $25,000 under the "quick pay" alternative.
Feinberg said no one has to accept this settlement, and circumstances will vary among those who claimed losses.
The extra compensation is being offered to help reduce the number of claims; but the claimant who accepts the bonus money must sign a release, ending all future claims and agreeing not to sue BP or any other party.
Feinberg also announced he'll be hiring additional staff at the gulf coast claims offices, and those hires will be local people.
During his telephone news conference, the BP claims administrator also said claimants will now be given access to free legal assistance. Lawyers will help guide claimants through the process and offer advice and assistance.
Talking about the "quick claim" option, Feinberg said, "This is simply a way to close the file in their own particular circumstances and move on."
The lawyer also answered a question from WLOX News about the protests from casino workers, who claim they've been unfairly treated in the compensation process.
Feinberg said he does not believe casino workers have been treated any differently. He reiterated his earlier advice that casino employees "re-file" their claims if they were denied earlier.
He said lack of documentation remains a big issue and is one of the main reasons that claimants are denied in their effort to recover damages.