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Family members of BP accident victims question settlement

While clean-up after the BP oil spill continues in the gulf, the memories of those who lost loved ones cannot be so easily removed. The family members of five deceased workers and one injured worker have decided to fight the settlement proposed by BP. They are outraged at the $4.5 billion in settlement for the pending criminal charges because the proposed settlement does not include charges for any top officials in the company. Under the principles of maritime law, victims of this disaster would like to see justice done.

BP pled guilty in November to 14 criminal charges related to the Deepwater Horizon accident. One Transocean employee who was injured in the accident expressed his outrage with BP for what he believes to be insufficient attention paid to the claims posed by the injured or killed. The brother of a deceased worker in theory does not protest to the settlement, but does feel that the 5.5 million for "misconduct or neglect of ship officers" pales in comparison to the $1 billion for environmental infractions that has been imposed on BP. The claims that the company is doing all they can to make things right falls on deaf ears for these surviving family members. In fact, some family members would like to see a real apology from BP as part of the settlement. A status conference on the case is scheduled with U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance on January 29.

Whether a victim of the BP oil spill or some other injury, the Jones Act allows the injured to make a claim for compensation when the injuries occur due to the negligence of the owner, master or fellow crew members. Companies that employ workers in offshore operations bear responsibility for the safety of their seamen and workers.

A financial settlement can never replace the loss of a loved one. However, compensation can be instrumental in moving past a tragic incident and dealing with the financial repercussions of a a loved one's death.

Source: The Times-Picayune, "Family members of BP Deepwater Horizon accident victims criticize company's $4.5 billion criminal settlement," Mark Schleifstein, Jan. 15, 2013

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