Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Who Will Hold BP Liable?

24-7 - The Ultimate Losses

No one lost more than those 11 workers who died on April 20 in the massive explosion that engulfed the offshore oil rig in flames and sent it into the then-blue water of the Gulf. Their loss of life has been largely overlooked in the nonstop media coverage that has followed in the weeks since the catastrophe. The workers who suffered severe injuries in the explosion have likewise been ignored.

One day those survivors and those who were injured will have their day in court, however, and liability and compensation for their losses will be determined. Who will be held liable? BP has already to some extent admitted liability in the event by paying out minor sums to fishermen and other business owners and workers who have lost income because of the oil spill.

Two other companies may well share liability in the Deepwater incident: Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig (Transocean leased the rig to BP) and Halliburton, the company that was responsible for the cement casing that was supposed to cap the well.

Injuries Incurred Since the Explosion

As part of the efforts to prevent the enormous swaths of oil from the leak from hitting the Gulf coast, BP has hired shrimpers, commercial fishermen and others with boats to deploy booms and devices to soak up some of the oil.

Though the efforts have had decidedly mixed results, there's no denying that some of the workers hired by BP have suffered a variety of symptoms due to their prolonged (and in some cases, unprotected) exposure to toxic fumes, oil particles and powerful chemical dispersants used to break up the oil.

A CBS News report aired nationally showed Gulf coast workers reporting a variety of respiratory and other ailments after exposure to the oil and dispersants.

The Los Angeles Times reported that seven workers were hospitalized due to sudden illness. According to Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the illness was apparently caused by exposure to a cleaning substance.

Crude oil is a poisonous stew with ingredients including cancer-causing benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a toxin that can damage the central nervous system and brain.

The legal process is already beginning to sort out issues involving negligence and liability and compensation for lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering. Legal experts urge people who have suffered injuries, or have family members who are oil-spill victims, to carefully consider their legal options before entering into agreements with BP or others.

Article provided by Winters & Yonker P.A.

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