Feinberg announces bonus money for oil spill claims that settle

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Steve Phillips – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The attorney who oversees the $20 billion BP compensation fund  announced on Monday some financial incentives for individuals and businesses willing to settle their claims.

Kenneth Feinberg held a telephone news conference to discuss the additional funds and other changes in the claims program.

Feinberg calls it the "quick pay" option. Individuals can get an extra $5,000 and businesses $25,000 if they agree to give-up their right to sue BP or other companies involved in the oil disaster.

Feinberg said while no single option is right for everyone with an oil spill claim, he expects many claimants will be enticed to give-up their right to file a lawsuit and accept the "quick cash."

"It may be because they've been paid adequately. It may be that they feel they can't document any additional damage. So, they might as well take this money right away in two weeks," he said.

WLOX News asked the claims czar about the concerns voiced by casino workers, who've staged several protests claiming unfair treatment in the process.

"We'll take a look at the casino workers. I like the casino workers, and I want to work with the casino workers. So, I would urge the casino workers to file for one of these options going forward," said the claims administrator.

Feinberg said casino workers and others who depend on tips are certainly eligible for compensation, but must have sufficient documentation. He said the single biggest problem with claims across the board is the lack of supporting documents.

"The problem is that the documentation they submit is often inadequate. It's not that they're not told what they need. They don't have it. They don't have it. They'll never have it. And that's a problem," said the attorney.

Feinberg also announced he'll be hiring more local people at claims offices like the one in St. Martin to better assist people and answer questions about their claims and cases.

"There have been too many claimants that can't get answers. And we're going to improve that with local, live bodies in the various offices where there's a large claim volume," he said.

New claims forms will be available online and in the gulf coast claims offices by Friday.

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