Oil Spill Attorneys
Over $20 Billion Won for Plaintiffs by Oil Spill Lawyers
It is estimated that 706 million gallons of waste oil enter the ocean on a yearly basis. While offshore drilling, spills, and leaks only contribute around 8% of this, they still result in millions of gallons. Oil spills can happen for a number of reasons, from offshore drilling accidents to vessel collisions.
Oil primarily rests on the water’s surface, so the force of waves, currents, and wind causes oil spills to drift over large areas. This damages the open ocean, surrounding coastal areas, and marine habitats and environments. For instance, oil can destroy the water repellency of bird feathers, impair the insulation of fur-covered mammals, and damage fish fins and hearts. From dolphins and whales to sea turtles and birds, oil spills can have negative effects on all types of wildlife. Obviously, damaging marine habitats and water sources has a domino effect on maritime livelihoods.
The damage from an oil spill depends on the oil’s composition and properties, the volume of oil spilled, and the resources committed to clean-up, but any oil spill threatens devastation. An oil spill, such as the one that occurred after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, is one of the most catastrophic things to impact a region. Not only is the environmental impact enormous, but it can have a dramatic effect on local business, tourism, commerce, and people’s health.
If your life has been destroyed by an oil spill, contact Arnold & Itkin. We’ve helped plaintiffs secure more than $20 billion in compensation to rebuild their lives, making us one of the most effective maritime law firms working today.
Table of Contents
- Oil Spill Claims for Workers & Businesses
- Oil Spill Business Interruption Claims
- Property Damage & Oil Spill Claims
- Oil Spill Claims for Health Issues
- Worker & Cleanup Crew Oil Spill Claims
- Oil Spill Class Actions vs. Multidistrict Litigation
- Catastrophic Effects of Oil Spills
- Common Causes of Oil Spills
- 5 of History’s Largest Oil Spills
- How to File an Oil Spill Claim
Oil Spill Claims for Workers, Residents & Businesses
Who are the people most affected by oil spills? Who feels the impact? Who suffers?
The fact is that everyone in a community is affected by oil spills. Businesses suffer losses as customers move away, industries dry up, and tourists stop coming to town. Crewmen (many of whom are local) suffer long-term exposure to oil fumes, the effects of which won’t be fully understood for decades. These workers and business owners make up the backbone of the community, and when they start to weaken, the whole community risks collapsing. Property values plummet; assets built over a lifetime turn worthless. Entire towns threaten to disappear.
Who answers for that?
Our oil spill lawyers advocate for the rights of oil spill victims. We’ve committed our lives to the belief that offshore companies should be held liable for harm committed against workers, residents, and other businesses.
Our life-changing victories in the offshore industry include:
- $193 million for two offshore workers who were caught in a pipeline explosion
- $125 million for the widow of a crew member injured in a dredging accident
- $68 million for a dredge vessel worker injured in an explosion
- $40 million won for an injured seaman in a Jones Act claim
Our results have made us one of the nation’s premier maritime law firms. We represented nearly a third of the Deepwater Horizon crew, four women widowed by the El Faro disaster, and those left behind by countless other offshore disasters because we don’t shy away from tough fights. Our firm has beaten some of the strongest, most well-funded companies in the world because our oil spill lawyers put everything we have into every case.
Oil Spill Business Interruption Claims
Historically, oil spills devastate the local economy, eliminating entire sectors of industry or driving away customers for years. When an oil spill results from negligence, proprietors have the right to pursue those at fault for their losses.
Industries impacted by past oil spills include:
As part of a class action settlement reached following the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP was forced to set up a $20 billion escrow fund to compensate businesses and workers. However, it’s important to understand that BP didn’t do this voluntarily; it was oil spill business interruption attorneys who fought to help owners recover what they’d lost.
We know the major effects that oil spills can have on businesses, such as:
- Job and profit losses
- Decreased production abilities
- Temporary or permanent shutdown
- Loss of supplies
Arnold & Itkin has helped people recover more than $20 billion to rebuild their lives. Our success handling business oil spill claims in the past has equipped us with the strategies and experience necessary to secure compensation for what you’ve lost. Our attorneys are here to handle both maritime and business claims related to oil spills. When you work with us, you can rest assured that we will take an aggressive approach to seek the compensation you need.
Business Interruption Insurance & Oil Spill Damage
Businesses impacted by oil spills can seek benefits under business interruption insurance to cover revenue loss during forced closure. Some businesses are able to claim expenses incurred by operating out of a temporary location. This could include rent for the new location, utility payments, taxes, and mortgage payments.
Property Damage & Oil Spill Claims
After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, businesses and residences alike suffered from property damage. Examples of compensation that was awarded included:
- Coastal real property damage
- Real property sales damage
- Vessel physical damage
- Wetlands real property damage
British Petroleum and the government also offered several types of economic damages including:
- Business and individual economic loss
- Subsistence loss
- The Seafood Compensation Program
- Vendor compensation
Years later, thousands were still affected who owned property or earned their livelihood along the Gulf Coast.
Oil Spill Claims for Residents Facing Health Issues
After an oil spill, locals often notice their health worsening in alarming ways. For instance, the 2010 BP oil spill caused several adults and children to sustain serious health problems, such as chemical poisoning. The damage has been so rampant that these health problems have been nicknamed “Gulf Coast Syndrome.”
Other health problems that have been reported following oil spills include:
- Blood in urine
- Blisters and lesions
- Chemical sensitivity
- Neurological conditions
- Heart palpitations
- Memory loss
- Respiratory issues and infections
- Chronic asthma issues
- Sinus issues
- Skin infections
- Temporary paralysis
- Vision problems
- Gastrointestinal issues
If you were hurt by an oil spill from a third party’s negligence, you have a right to financial and medical relief proportional to the health issues you’re facing. We help people claim losses incurred by ongoing medical care and long-term loss of wages due to health issues. These losses, depending on the situation, could be more severe than you realize.
Workers & Cleanup Crews Oil Spill Claims
All of the health issues experienced by residents are even more acute for cleanup crews responsible for undoing the mess created by negligent offshore companies. For instance, after the 2010 Gulf oil spill, there were 1,753 injuries and illnesses recorded in total. The work of cleaning up an oil spill is dangerous and filled with exposure to hazardous chemicals. Companies must provide the best possible protections – including protective gear and adequate crew sizes – in order to prevent long-term health damage.
Crew illnesses and injuries resulting from oil spill-related conditions include:
- Heat exhaustion
Companies rarely provide these things voluntarily. Ultimately, it’s workers filing claims for their health losses who force companies to do the right thing. If you’re suffering from adverse health effects after an oil spill, the only way to rebuild your life and prevent other people from suffering what you suffered is to call an oil spill attorney to assert your rights and protect your interests.
Arnold & Itkin LLP can build a claim on your behalf, gathering evidence that your employer is responsible for covering your health costs, long-term wage losses, and more. Let us help.
Oil Spill Class Actions vs. Multidistrict Litigation
When a single incident or product harms an entire group of people, the state may gather those claims into multidistrict litigation, or MDL. MDLs allow a single judge to hear all the cases related to an incident, which makes the rulings more consistent while giving each plaintiff a chance to be heard.
What distinguishes oil spill class actions from an MDL is that each case is still heard individually and granted an individual verdict. One person might receive a larger reward than another plaintiff because they suffered worse effects, or their attorney uncovered something unique to their case. In class actions, a single law firm represents a class of plaintiffs in a single case, and the verdict is divided amongst all members of the class action.
In an MDL, the nuances of a person’s situation are weighed with far more importance.
In other words, MDLs are more advantageous for plaintiffs. For instance, if your community’s oil spill claims are consolidated into an MDL, you retain the right to choose your own attorney—and that choice could affect the rest of your life. Our firm has won history-making verdicts in multiple MDL cases, including an $8 billion verdict for Risperdal and a $175 verdict for Roundup weed killer.
Medical Benefits Won by Multidistrict Litigation
The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 states those parties responsible for an oil spill are also financially responsible for any damages it may cause. In the case of the Gulf Coast spill, a number of class action lawsuits have been filed against British Petroleum (BP) on behalf of those who suffered physical harm caused by the Deepwater Horizon explosion. One such lawsuit—known as Multi-District Litigation (MDL) No. 2179—encompassed 77 different claims and resulted in a $20 billion fund agreed to by BP at the request of the federal government. If you or a loved one suffered health effects from the BP oil spill, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries under MDL No. 2179.
If you were injured in a different spill, talk to an offshore injury lawyer to learn if a class action lawsuit has been established that affects you. Contact Arnold & Itkin to learn more.
The Catastrophic Effects of Oil Spills
Given the properties of oil and the scale of drilling operations, oil spills have enormous fallout that affects virtually every area of local life. For instance, recent reports have shown the 2010 BP oil spill may have affected the health of fish that were eggs at the time of the accident. This in turn affects the entire ecosystem. And once the ecosystem suffers harm, it can affect the lives and livelihoods of thousands.
Oil spills have been known to wipe out:
- Property values
- Local businesses
- Food markets
- Commercial fishing
- Beaches and tourism
- Resident health
From hotel owners to wildlife conservation volunteers, no one in the community is shielded from the impact of an oil spill. The ocean, beach, and surrounding land suffer damage that may never fully heal. Oil spills destroy tourism, eat away at businesses, and put residents at risk of serious health issues. These are all reasons why people have called our oil spill pollution lawyers.
How Oil Spills Are Cleaned Up
In many cases, even a fast response to an oil spill cannot prevent serious damage to the ocean and marine life. To prevent further pollution, containment and removal of the oil can be done through skimming, filtering, or other methods. From there, it will need to be dispersed into small droplets, biodegraded, or passed through weathering processes.
Long-Term Effects of Oil Spill Pollution & Inhalation
As oil spreads, it partially evaporates but, due to its weight, remains close to the ground. When a breeze carries these fumes into populated areas on the coast, people breathe them in, embedding poisonous substances into their lungs.
Short-term effects are well-documented—exposure to oil fumes on the coast, both for marine workers and fishermen enlisted in clean-up efforts, resulted in nausea, dizziness, and lethargy that faded as the fumes cleared away. The long-term impact of oil spill pollution and inhalation is still being researched and observed. A 2018 study on oil spill cleanup crews found that exposure to fumes on that scale led to long-term issues with breathing, lung function, and heart health.
A 2020 study of the Deepwater Horizon and Exxon Valdez found that, over a decade later, the areas within the oil spills' radiuses had damaged coastal wetlands, damaged deep-sea coral, and reduced populations of oysters, dolphins, sea turtles, and seabirds. It’s unclear if these lower populations are the result of migration due to a smaller food supply or if the environments themselves remain too damaged to support denser wildlife populations. Either way, it does not bode well for the fishing industry in the affected areas.
A community will struggle to get back on its feet after an oil spill, making it even more important that oil companies are held responsible for rebuilding these communities. That’s why our maritime pollution attorneys have stepped in again and again to hold BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, and other companies accountable.
Common Causes of Oil Spills
One of the most damaging oil spills in recent years was the Deepwater Horizon disaster. This spill damaged the ecosystem all along the U.S. Gulf Coast. As most oil spills happen on the surface of the ocean, the spill remains there for some time. However, this drilling accident began at the ocean floor and rose to the surface. Oil spills like this can damage the marine environment at every level.
Potential causes of oil spills include:
In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig spilled approximately 210 million gallons of oil into the gulf–making it the second-largest oil spill in history. What led to this serious oil spill? Numerous flaws led to the oil rig blowout, resulting in several deaths, injuries, and severe environmental damage. One of the biggest was the failure of the rig's blowout preventer.
Preventing Spills in the Ocean
One of the ways that oil rig spills can be prevented is for employers to enforce stricter, stronger standards. When oil drilling companies make mistakes, they can be deadly and destructive. 25 years ago, the U.S. Congress enacted the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. This act was designed to help strengthen oil spill prevention and improve planning and response efforts. The responsibility for oil spills can fall on individuals, corporations, companies, and industries.
While oil rig companies can improve safety and maintenance standards, the U.S. government has taken stronger measures to prevent such disasters. The main method they have used is enforcing heavy financial penalties. For example, following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, they had to pay $5.5 billion for violations of the Clean Water Act, which was created in 1977 to govern water pollution. They also had to pay $700 million for injuries and losses related to the oil spill. This brought their total fine for the explosion and spill to more than $54 billion. No matter the size of the spill or type of oil, any unnatural spill can bring about devastating damage to the ocean environment.
5 of History’s Largest Oil Spills
Spills have been a possibility since the first offshore oil well was drilled in 1938 in about 14 feet of water off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico. Here are the 5 biggest oil spills in history:
- 1991 Kuwait (240 to 226 Million Gallons):
Iraqi troops opened oil well valves and pipelines in an attempt to slow troops that followed them.
- 2010 Gulf of Mexico (134 million gallons):
The Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank on April 20, 2010, leading to a three-month oil spill in the Gulf.
- 1997 Bay of Campeche (126-140 Million Gallons):
An explosion occurred in the Bay of Campeche in Mexico. The oil spill lasted for roughly 10 months.
- 1979 Trinidad & Tobago (88.3 Million Gallons):
Two supertankers collided near the West Indies, causing the largest oil spill to ever be caused by a ship crash.
- 1992 Uzbekistan (87.7 Million Gallons):
In Fergana Valley, an oil well began to spill, leading to one of the largest inland spills to ever occur.
How to File an Oil Spill Claim
To ensure you are fully prepared to make your case, your lawyers will need to gather all evidence and information about your situation, including damages and expenses such as medical treatment. Your oil spill claim needs to demonstrate “direct cause, duty, and damages” in order to qualify for compensation. The first two elements—direct cause and duty—are why it’s important to hire an experienced oil spill law firm.
Put simply, these three elements require proving:
- Direct cause: You suffered harm as a direct result of the negligent actions or inaction taken by the defendant.
- Duty: The defendant had a duty of care to prevent the harm you suffered.
- Damages: You suffered provable losses as a result of your harm. These can be economic, medical, physical, or social/psychological/emotional.
Because Arnold & Itkin LLP has handled oil spill litigation before, we know how oil companies work, how the law holds them to a certain standard, and what to look for when they fail that standard. Just as importantly, our experience with previous plaintiffs means we know how costly these incidents are, so we can fight for a recovery amount that accurately addresses your long-term needs.
How Our Oil Spill Attorneys Can Help You
No matter what you’re facing, our oil spill lawyers want to help. We are experienced in maritime, personal injury, and business litigation, bringing all of our extensive experience to work for you. We have represented everyone from fisher boat captains to publicly traded companies, as well as workers who were injured in the Deepwater Horizon accident that caused one of the largest environmental disasters in our nation’s history. No matter who you’re up against, we know what it takes to beat them—because we’ve done it before.
To learn more about our firm and how we can help with oil spill claims, do not hesitate to contact us.