In October, the El Faro cargo ship sailed through the path of Hurricane Joaquin on its way from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico. The large waves and heavy winds caused the ship to sink and all 33 crew members died at sea. Now some of the families are coming forward to file wrongful death suits against TOTE Maritime, the owner of the cargo ship. If you were injured or lost a loved one aboard a seagoing vessel, contact a Miami Maritime Accident Attorney.
Eight plaintiffs related to victims of the El Faro disaster are suing TOTE Maritime in Florida for wrongful death, claiming that tragedy could have been avoided. The remaining families have until December 21st to file claims against the shipping company due to a court order.
TOTE Maritime previously tried to block all lawsuits by the victims’ families, claiming that it was not to blame for the incident. The company filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court in Florida claiming that they exercised due diligence and did everything in their power to make sure the ship was safe and therefore should hold no financial liability for the accident. The court soundly rejected this complaint but agreed to cap the damages at $15 million if the company was not found to be negligent for the disaster.
TOTE’s next maneuver was to offer each of the injured families a $500,000 settlement for the lost of their loved ones. But attorneys of the sueing families found that amount to be much too low and rejected the settlement.
These cases will heavily rely on the pending investigation of the incident by the National Transportation Safety Board. The investigation will determine whether all the appropriate regulations and safety precautions were taken to ensure the safety of the ship’s crew. It will also attempt to discover whether or not TOTE officials acted negligently in allowing the ship to sail so close to a known hurricane. The ship’s course was charted to avoid the hurricane’s center by 65 miles but Hurricane Joaquin’s path was erratic and unpredictable and El Faro instead sailed right through the storm.
While the NTSB has yet to find any wrongdoing from the shipping company, a former crewmember on El Faro told CNN that the company would often be haphazardly patching up the ship instead of putting money into major repairs. At the time of the accident a five-man team of polish welders were onboard making repairs. While this is just speculation, the families of the victims lost at sea will no doubt be concerned with the overall care put into the safety of the ship by TOTE maritime.
Contact an Experienced Maritime Accident Attorney Today
Due to the complex nature of maritime law, an experienced South Florida Maritime Accident Lawyer is absolutely crucial when seeking damages for an accident. At the Law Office of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A., we have a collective 80 years of fighting cases against cruise liners and shipping companies. All our cases are conducted on a contingent fee so there are no attorney’s fees unless we recover money on your behalf. Contact us today for a free consultation.