Claims: Quick pay option nets 5,000 applicants in first weekend


MOBILE, Ala. – About 5,000 claimants — mostly individual workers — signed up for a quick-pay oil spill settlement in the first three days in which it was offered, according to a spokeswoman from the claims operation.

Ken Feinberg, the administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, said he hoped that many individuals would take the quick-pay option, which debuted Friday, freeing his adjusters to focus on larger, more complex claims.

A quick payment of $5,000 for individuals or $25,000 for a business is available to anyone approved for an emergency claim under Feinberg’s process. Feinberg said he approved about 168,000 of the 460,000 claims submitted.

No further proof is required for the quick-pay settlement, but anyone taking the payment must sign a waiver releasing the claims operation and any company involved in the spill from future damages.

The popularity of the quick option was apparent Friday, the first day it was offered, when lines burst out the front door of claims offices in places like Foley and Biloxi.

Feinberg continues to offer two additional claims options, both requiring financial documentation of damages. One, a lump-sum final settlement, also requires signing a waiver saying they will not receive future compensation.

Those who don’t want to sign such a waiver can apply for quarterly interim payments.

Feinberg’s operation has paid out $2.5 billion since Aug. 23, when it began paying damages to individuals and businesses hurt by the spill.

About $416 million has gone to Alabama, while $210 million has gone to Mississippi.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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