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Monday, June 14, 2010

Designing a BP Oil Spill Compensation Fund

As the Obama Administration debates the format for an Gulf Oil Spill Compensation the critical factors of funding, administration and longevity of the program remain unresolved. Tonight The PBS News Hour provided only a limited insight into the major issues involved in such a program.

Essential to the program is the adequacy and efficiency of the delivery of benefits to injured and exposed workers. While comparisons continue to be drawn to the the longest tort in American history, asbestos, and the Victims Compensation Fund of 911, sight continues to be lost of the injured and exposed workers who have been faced with a basic workers' compensation system that for the most part, failed to adequately miss their needs.

Daniel Farber, Director of the environmental law program at the University of California, Berkeley's Law School highlighted some of the design failures of the past in Federal programs when he stated, "Well, I don't know if we need a custom-built scheme for BP, but I think that this has shown a genuine problem, both here, but also with other kinds of environmental disasters, with public health disasters, which is that we have a very long litigation process, and people may need help right away."

Missing from the discussion, yet again, are the injured workers, the employers, the workers' compensation insurance carriers and their advocacy groups discussing the essential issue of compensating oil spill workers. History teaches us that in the past Federal programs have missed the mark in creating adequate programs to meet the needs of compensating injured workers. Hopefully, the opportunity will not be lost this time to create a viable, fair and exemplary program.

To read more about petroleum exposure and workers' compensation.

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