Documenting Oil Spill Claim
If you are some kind of business owner (e.g., fisherman, hotel owner, etc.) who was injured by an oil spill, chances are that you will have to demonstrate how the oil spill has cost you money, as well as the fact that your losses were actually caused by the oil spill. The entity responsible for the oil spill will likely look for any reason to deny a lost profit claim and attempt not to pay for damages that its negligence may have caused you. So, you may wonder, what documentation can you use to prove damages? The below list may give some ideas. Remember – the more documentation you have to prove that you suffered a loss and responded appropriately, the better.
First, be ready to give up your tax returns for both before and after the oil spill. Tax returns are considered a reliable way to show what your income level was, and can be used to demonstrate that you really did lose income as a result of the spill.
Second, you may need to be ready to turn over business financial records, such as income statements, profit and loss statements, and similar records to further demonstrate a loss. Have those handy, as they cover your income losses in more detail than a tax return.
Third, keep any other records you may have which would support losses. For a hotel, for example, this may include appointment cancellations. When in doubt, keep the record safe.
Fourth, keep any receipts and records of additional expenses you now have due to the oil spill. For example, if you are a fisherman who, thanks to an oil spill, now has to travel to a new fishing spot 100 miles away and buy huge bags of ice to keep your catch fresh, keep a travel log and receipts for gasoline, ice, admittance fees to the new fishing spot, and the like. If your boat needed repairs, keep the receipt for that. Unsupported expenses are not likely to result in compensation.
Fifth, keep any records of any attempts that you took to minimize your damages. Courts and opposing attorneys do not like to compensate victims who just sat around and let their damages build. If you are a fisherman, nothing would look worse for your claim than to take a four week vacation after the oil spill and then try to collect damages for that time. Keep records showing that you spent the time repairing your boat, fishing somewhere else, or whatever you did to try and adapt to the oil spill.
Sixth, document your damages. If you have oil on your boat, take a photo of it before fixing it, or better yet, keep your repairman’s quote for repairs. If your usual fishing spot is heavily oiled, get a picture of the tar balls. Such evidence will cause a Court or opposing attorney to pay attention to your claim and take it seriously.
As damaging as oil spills are for maritime workers, compensation can be had for those who are willing to document their losses. You may wish to contact an experienced maritime attorney to learn the best way to go about proving your oil spill damages.
If you or a loved one have been injured, Call Carabin Shaw at 1.800.862.1260. We Can Help.