On September 29, 2015, the cargo ship El Faro set sail from Jacksonville, Florida. The ship, owned by Tote Maritime, was en route to Puerto Rico. All communication with the ship was lost on October 1st during Hurricane Joaquin. Tragically, a few days later, the ship and all 33 of its crew members were declared lost at sea.
Further investigation has revealed that El Faro may not have been seaworthy at the time it left the docks in Jacksonville. The ship, which has been in use for 40 years, reportedly suffered engine failure before she disappeared. Additional questions remain as to why the ship would sail into the path of an oncoming Category 4 hurricane.
Wrongful Death Claims and the Jones Act
Because of the circumstances surrounding the loss of El Faro, Tote Maritime may be liable to the families of El Faro’s crew members. Federal law applies to actions originating on the high seas. Specifically, the Jones Act allows families of seamen lost at sea to recover damages for the wrongful death of their loved ones.
Those entitled to recover damages include spouses, children, parent and siblings. In order to prevail under the Jones Act, it must be proven that the death of the seaman occurred as a result of the negligence of the seaman’s employer, in this case, Tote Maritime. Further avenues of recovery may be available depending upon each individual claim.
Contact a Florida Attorney
If you have any questions about the death of a loved one in a tragedy such as that involving El Faro, it is imperative to contact an attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at Hardesty, Tyde, Green & Ashton, P.A., including a retired Navy Commander, can provide the assistance you need during such a difficult time.