Oil Spill Claim Warnings
The Mississippi Bar Disaster Legal Information Guide has some good advice if you have been impacted by the Gulf oil spill. This could include business owners, hotel and restaurant owners, fishermen, and excursion operators, among others.
First, be sure any person who contacts you tells you and shows you who they are and who they work for. Ask for verification. It’s important to weed out those people who may have a strictly financial interest in you. The guide says, “Do not assume any individual is looking out for your best interest.”
The guide tells people that lawyers or someone representing a lawyer, may try to sign you up as a client, or an insurance company may try to settle your claim and they may ask you to sign something. This document could affect your legal rights! Please be very careful about saying anything or signing anything that may affect your legal rights, especially someone whose advice you have not sought. A red flag should go up if someone says they can promise you a payment of a given sum of money.
From an ethical standpoint, it is improper for a lawyer or their representative to contact you directly, in-person, by telephone or e-mail. The guide suggests if you had a lawyer who previously represented you in an accident, such as a car crash, or a Florida personal injury attorney, contact him or her immediately for advice. At least you already have a relationship with that person. Or check the Florida Bar Association for a member of the Bar in your area.
Remember, a lawyer licensed to practice in Mississippi, for example, cannot practice law in Florida, unless he or she is licensed to do so. Make sure they are licensed to practice law in the state where you have suffered your damages. Not only do they have access to the courts there but that person should understand the laws of your state.