The legal implications of the BP Gulf oil rig explosion and oil spill could be significant. Lawyers will have to navigate a confluence of several different laws in order to be successful.
The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 requires that claims for property damage, environmental damage and loss of livelihood, but not personal injury claims, initially be brought with the responsible party for approval or denial, and the claimant must wait 90 days to do so. So, in this case, someone or some entity would have to submit their claim to BP, Halliburton Energy Services, Inc., Transocean or Cameron International Corp. (click here to read about the potential responsible parties). The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 also limits damages from oil-spills at $75 million unless gross negligence, willful misconduct or a violation of federal construction or operating requirements can be proven.
Next, general maritime laws will apply in some cases. This also limits punitive damages and centers around the question of the seaworthiness of the vessel involved, which in this case is the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. These laws are something that not too many even experienced lawyers are familiar with on a regular basis.
If anyone has questions or feedback on this post, please feel free to contact me directly. I'd love to hear any thoughts you have. Just click here, and it will take you to a page containing contact information. We will continue to keep you updated as developments occur.