Oil spill claims administrator Kenneth Feinberg today announced the appointment of several law firms and companies specializing in claims processing to assist oil spill claimants in the busiest offices run by the Gulf Coast Claims Facility.

Earlier this month, Feinberg told reporters he would be hiring more local people to assist with claims, as well as providing free legal advice for claimants who needed it. The lawyers would be paid for by BP, he added.

“These additional individuals in the [claims facility] claim site offices will be assisting claimants by providing more details about the status of their claims and assisting them in determining and submitting the necessary documents needed in order to qualify for a final, interim or ‘quick pay’ claim,” Feinberg said Tuesday in a news release.

In an earlier interview, Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon called Feinberg’s plan to hire more people to answer claimants’ questions “a significant improvement” over the emergency claims process.

Some claimants had complained that it was difficult to get explanations from the fund about whether their documentation was adequate, why their claims were denied or how payments were calculated. Feinberg himself has acknowledged the claims operation needed to be more transparent, and said he would also consider making public his methodology for assessing claims.

In Florida, Feinberg has chosen the law firm Burke Blue, whose specialties include real estate and administrative law, as well as attorney John Boggs. They’ll have representatives in the Panama City, Fort Walton Beach, Pensacola and Santa Rosa Beach claims offices.

The firms “were recommended to Feinberg by local elected officials and others,” according to the claims facility news release.

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