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As you may be already be aware, the BP Economic and Property Damages Settlement was granted final approval at the end of December. This means that after months of discovery, negotiations and hearings, thousands of Gulf Coast Residents and businesses can now feel secure in the fact that BP will be compensating them for losses that were incurred in the wake of the April, 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Of course, the Settlement Program has now actually been operating for over seven months, receiving and processing claims and making Settlement offers. Final court approval of the Settlement does not change those procedures. It does, however, trigger some important new deadlines to which claimants and their representatives should be alert. Most urgently for now are the following deadlines:

January 22, 2013 (this month!) is the deadline to file a claim under the Seafood Compensation Program. This includes all commercial fishermen, including boat captains and seafood crew but not charter boat captains. This deadline is very quickly approaching, so if you think it applies to you, now is the time to take action.

Other claimants have a significantly longer timeframe in which to submit their claims. For claimants who have been paid by the claims administrator, additional claims must be filed within 180 days of their payment. For claimants who have not been paid by the claims administrator, the deadline for filing claims is April 22, 2014.

January 22, 2013 is also the deadline for appealing the District Court’s Final Approval Order. That order essentially concluded that the Settlement was fair, reasonable and adequate for the class. But class members who previously objected to the Settlement and now wish to appeal have only a couple more weeks to do so.

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