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BP opens claims office in Clearwater

5:43 PM, Jun 30, 2010   |    comments
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Clearwater, Florida --  In his 23 years as a commercial fisherman, Scott Padgett has fought plenty of battles on the water.

But, lately he seems to be drowning in a sea of financial distress because of oil.

"I wish it would all go away," he said.

The grouper fisherman is not only restricted from fishing from some areas of the Gulf because of oil, he says he's not selling as much seafood as he used to because of the perception of tainted fish.

Gallery: Oil spill in Gulf of Mexico

"Our fish gets checked every time we unload.  There's a state guy there every time that's normally there anyways," he said, "It's checked every time."

He couldn't give an exact estimate, but says he's taken a financial hit because of the oil spill in the gulf. 

On Wednesday, he made his way to BP's new claims office in Clearwater.

"At least now there's a person to talk to instead of a recorder because I've called and called and wasn't getting anywhere," he said.

Chuck Newton, the officer manager at the Clearwater claims office is encouraging anyone who thinks they've suffered a loss as a result of the spill, to file a claim.

"If you've got loss of income or you want to talk about a claim against BP for the spill, come in and see us," said Newton, "Anyone can file a claim.  We've seen all kinds of things.  Right now, we're really trying to focus on folks who have a loss of income."

Newton says people are even filing claims because they are not able to swim in the water.

If you plan to file a claim, Newton says you should call 1-800-440-0858 to get a claim number.

Once you get your claim number, gather whatever documents you have that will help prove your losses.

"We're trying to let people know to  bring in any kind of tax forms, pay check stubs, the fisherman bring in their catch tickets or trip tickets, anything that's going to help support their loss of income," Newton said.

"A lot of times, if they've got everything, we can cut them a check right there on the spot," he added.

The process hasn't been easy for Theodore Lavalle.

He makes beach wheelchairs and markets the chairs to hotels and rental booths along Florida's beaches.

His problem: his company is only a few months old and he says he doesn't have the tax documents.

"Hotels can't justify now, they're scared.  They're losing business.  You can't justify paying for a wheelchair when the people aren't coming," he said.

Lavalle didn't get paid on Wednesday and will join those still standing by to find out whether he'll even see a penny of BP money.

BP says 2,000 claims have been filed in the Bay Area so far and 67,000 nationwide.

So far, BP says it's paid out $117 million in claims.

The BP Clearwater Claims Office is located in the Campus Walk Plaza:

2551 Drew Street, Suite 303
Clearwater, FL

You can also submit a claim on line by clicking here.

You can also mail a claim by mail to:

ESIS
One Beaver Valley Road
Wilmington, DE  19803

Laura Kadechka, 10 Connects

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