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Family of dead El Faro seaman sues ship operator for damages

When Category 4 hurricane Joaquin overtook the El Faro ship between Florida and Puerto Rico, 33 crew members lost their lives. Now, the family of one of the deceased seamen has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the ship's operators in a Jacksonville court.

An attorney for the family said that attempts to get insurance information from Sea Star Line, LLC and TOTE Maritime, the companies responsible for the ship, had proven futile. According to the lawsuit, the employer's disregard for safety led to the ship sinking without survivors. Allegedly, known problems went without repairs and the vessel lacked sufficient safety gear. The family's complaints also included accusations that the ship should not have left port in dangerous weather or at least should have been allowed to change course.

The lawyer also alleged that profit motives accounted for the failings in safety. Although the lawsuit did not state a specific figure that the family hopes to recover, the lawyer said that the family would seek every penny supported under federal law. The family expressed a desire to potentially reduce hazards for maritime crews in the future.

On-the-job deaths are not the only source of wrongful death claims. A person who lost a family member because of a reckless driver, negligent doctor, or other form of preventable accident might be able to recover damages from a responsible party. An attorney may review the situation for the person and determine if the evidence could support a lawsuit. Prior to going to trial, an attorney might arrange for an out-of-court settlement. Otherwise, the survivor's right to compensation could be presented at trial.

Source: WOKV, "Wrongful death lawsuit filed by family of El Faro crew member," Oct. 19, 2015

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